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CRITIQUING 101

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by

Kimberly Vanderhorst

on 22 October 2016

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Transcript of CRITIQUING 101

THE FIVE
CRITIQUE LANGUAGES
#1: VALIDATION
The Secret to Building
Critique Partnerships
that
LAST
#5: FRIENDSHIP
#2: TECHNICAL
EDITING
#3: DEEP CONTENT EDITING
Highlight What
WORKS
&
Specify
WHY
"Totally didn't see
that
coming!"
GIVE REAL
TIME REACTIONS
THE FIVE CRITIQUE
NO-NOS

Compliments Compliments Everywhere
and Ne’er a
Crit to Read
Context-Free
Criticism
"I don't like this."
LACK OF
RECIPROCATION
You're a
grownup
.
You can talk to strangers.
But for the love of words,
do NOT trade
full manuscripts

with a critique partner who
isn't
tried and tested
.
TRADING FULLS
REWRITING
IN
YOUR
VOICE
FIVE WAYS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR CRIT PARTNER EXPERIENCE
BE THOROUGH
BE KIND
(NOT "NICE")
BE PROMPT
BE GENUINE
BE GRATEFUL
So What's
YOUR

Critique Language?

Are you a
validator
?
A
builder
?
A
copy editor
?
A
content editor
?
A
friend
in the making?

Or are you
some

or
all
of the above?
Responding to
HELPFUL
Critiques

1. Silent Absorption
2. Denial and Defensiveness (Optional)
3. Bargaining (Optional)
4. Acceptance
5. GRATITUDE (Mandatory)

Responding to
UNhelpful
Critiques

1. Silent Absorption
2. Soul Searching
3. Decision to Disregard
4. More Soul Searching
5. Polite Thank-You

You don't have to know the
C.M.O.S.
by heart to be helpful.
Awkward Wording
Point Out:
"The wording here is
GORGEOUS
."
"The dialog is so
natural
. I feel
like an eavesdropper!"
"I have to pee but
I don't

want to stop
reading!
Basic Grammar Issues
Formatting Errors
Poor Word Choices
Requires a
good eye
above all else.
You don't even have to know what it is. Bonus points if you do though!
Attention to Detail is a
must
.
CONSTRUCTIVE
CRITICISM
"I DON'T LIKE THIS."
This is a tear down phrase.
It's important to remove what doesn't work to make room for what will.
But . . .
A
tear down phrase

not followed by a
constructive phrase
,
can feel like random
destruction.
Constructive
Phrases
"Maybe
[this]
would work better."
"I think the problem is
[this]
, because . . ."
"What if you tried
[this]
?"
"I think it reads stronger
[this]
way."
Stop
Snorkeling.
Scuba Diving is Where it's at.
GO DEEP!
POINT OF VIEW
DEPTH
EMOTIONAL
AUTHENTICITY
Cliché

ERADICATION
Pacing
Natural Dialog
Narrative Tension
Showing vs. Telling
Characterization
World Building
Setting
Plot
Support
Empathy
Encouragement
Brainstorming
Venting
Community
SANITY
CRITIQUING
101


If you're pressed for time
but still want to highlight your
CP's "greatest hits," consider
using actual highlighting.
Pick a color. Tell your CP
that Green = AWESOME.
OR:
Why Bother?
Because odds are, you aren't the only one who'll be reading those pages. Someone else might tell your CP to cut your favorite lines. Fight for your faves!
Validation
isn't just a
pat on the head.
Knowing what's working in our writing can have just as profound an impact as finding out what's not.
Do the characters'
reactions make sense in
context of who they are as a
person, the situation they are
in, and the storyline thus far?
Example:
The main character hears a blood curdling scream.
Are they the type of person
who would run towards it
or away from it?
If they're normally a coward,
what would it take for them to be brave this time?
It's hard to connect to a character who says things we've read hundreds of times before.
Sensory
Details
Encourage CP's to use the
five senses to create a more immersive experience for
their readers.
Remove "filter phrases" like: "I saw, he felt, she heard.
Aim for a balance between description, dialog, internal dialog, and action.
Avoid "talking heads"
and "As You Know Bob" dialog.
Make sure the character is the one doing the talking, not the author. Real people don't sit around thinking about their backstory all the time, for instance.
Organic
Descriptions:
We lose POV depth when
descriptions come from nowhere.
Our thoughts are triggered by our senses. We only notice what it
makes sense of us to notice.
Same should go for
our characters.
Content Editing
Also Addresses:
It's a lot. I know.
And not everyone has a
knack for spotting every
potential issue. This is
why multiple CP's are ideal.
And why it's important
to be able to articulate
what YOU have
a knack for
spotting.
Figuring out
what you can offer
is as important as figuring out what you need.
The best
partnerships offer:
Not to say that strictly business relationships are a terrible thing. But if one of you wants friendship and the other doesn't?
That's a problem.
And that's basically what
The Five Critique Languages come down to. Are you willing/able to give what your CP needs? Are they able/willing to do the same?
It's "nice" not to tell someone their writing needs work. It's "kind" to encourage them to improve.
Life happens. We do our best,
but we sometimes fall short when life becomes a tall order. If you can't be prompt, BE HONEST about why
so they don't assume it's
because they suck.
Okay? Okay.
Few things are more helpful
to an author than hearing
the genuine reactions of their readers. Whether a scene terrifies, thrills, unsettles, or amuses you . . .
Make a point of telling your CP.
Some critiques are easier to take than others. Whether you agree or not, search for and EXPRESS gratitude for the time your CP took over your work. If you're constantly struggling to find gratitude? You might be too proud.
Or your CP might be
too unhelpful. ;)
Full transcript