Here are a list of a few things I really focus on when giving a critique:
- Tone - Does the character "sound" the same through the MS.
- Pacing- Do I need more information to make the scene stronger? Do I need less?
- Plot Holes- Mention anything that doesn't make sense. A quick "Where did this come from?" or a "I didn't know spaceships existed in ancient Egypt" will help the author see the missing link.
- Sentence Structure- Sentences need to flow. If you stumble, note it.
- Grammar- Yeah, yeah, we all need grammar help now and then.
- Characterization- Do you connect with the character? Or need something more to make them "pop" for you?
- Consistency- Suzy can't start the story with mousy brown hair and brown eyes to end it as a blond, blue-eyed goddess...unless there's an explanation for it in the story.
- Interest- Hey, it needs to be interesting. If you're snoozing through a chapter the author needs to know! Everything is fixable in draft form.
- Positives- Everyone needs encouragement in this business. So when I see something I love, I note it. First, I don't want the author to change it. Second, it helps soften the blow of all the other comments.
Critiquing can be hard. You don't want to make the author feel bad about their work, but you don't want to not mention things you notice are wrong either. So, I follow the sandwich rule. Something nice, something to work on, something else nice.
And you have to remember when you get that critiqued file back not to panic. They don't hate your story, they want to help it be all it can be.
Do you guys approach a critique the same way? What works best for you? As authors, do you appreciate this kind of in-depth evaluation? I know I do!
And what's best in summer time? Lemonade -- with a little vodka!
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 8 cups ice
- 4 ounces vanilla-infused vodka, recipe follows*
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 lemon, sliced into rings
- 1 lime, sliced into rings
In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to a simmer. Cook until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool.
In a large pitcher, fill with ice. Stir in simple syrup, vodka, juice, lemon and lime slices.
*for kid-friendly version, omit alcohol.
- 1 liter vodka
- 2 vanilla beans
Split beans lengthwise and add to vodka bottle. Let infuse overnight in a cool dark place. Strain into another sterilized bottle.