Tuesday, May 7, 2019

How to Give a Constructive Critique

Language Choice can result in a Constructive Critique

Writers, like most people, react badly to harsh comments. But there is a way to soften what you want to tell them so they can make their manuscripts EVEN better.

After reading the manuscript:

1)        State what you like about the story or the character and so on.
2)      State what emotion or image you experienced. (Overall or in specific scenes.)
3)      Identify any place where you were confused or found inconsistencies.
4)      Underline passive verb structures, non-specific word use, overuse of adverbs, adjective + noun structures that could be replaced with strong “showing” verbs, negative structures that could be positive.

  Structure critique comments as questions or suggestions.

 Sample Comments to mark changes you think will improve the writing.

  1. This is a strong verb – I can see action here.
  2. Colorful description-I like it.
  3.  Evocative turn of phrase, it made me think.
  4. This made me cry/laugh/giggle/get angry…
  5. Never thought of it like that.
  6. Oh oh- had to read this 3 times – maybe change order/add/delete/use different words for clarity.
  7. Lost me here. Not sure what you are trying to say. 
  8. I understand this to mean XYZ – is that what you intended?
  9. From what you said above I thought she had blue eyes? 
 Beta Readers or editors, keep this positive approach in mind when working with a writer, especially a new writer.

Writers, print this and offer with your manuscript when you ask for feedback from volunteers. It will help them give you the information you need without worrying about upsetting you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

5 basic steps at the crime scene in a mystery

Overview for writing a mystery... 

     1) INTERVIEW: - the victim, the witness(es), the first person/officer on the scene – Purpose: to develop a theory of what allegedly happened. 

a) Ask your POV character about:
Problem / Conflict
Scene Goal (what they hope to accomplish)
Purpose (Action he/she plans to take to achieve the goal)
Who else is in the scene and are they “with” him/her or “against” him/her? 
b) Ask your other characters if they are “with” the POV character or “against” the POV character and why or why not.

      2) EXAMINE THE SCENE: - to ascertain if the theory can be upheld – watch for:
-          Point of entry –  the previous failures, setbacks or discovery that propelled the character into this scene.
-          Point of Exit – the failure or discovery in this scene that propels the character into the next scene.
  3) PHOTOGRAPH: - to capture overall and specific items of evidence.
   Setting: - Where are they? When is it?  What’s the climate, lighting, etc?
Note all physical items in the scene-are they clues or red herrings?

       4) SKETCH – ACTION
       Choreograph what happens. Who was where, when?
       Who did what? How?

5)  PROCESS:  Evaluate, record, collect physical and testimonial evidence for further analysis

-          What did we learn?  How does this impact the plot? The character? The setting?
-          What is the result of the scene?  What step must the POV take next? What is the new goal? 
-          How does this propel the story and the characters into the next scene?
-      Are all the necessary clues and set-up information included?