Critiquing Novels 101

  • When critiquing another person’s manuscript, remember that your voice does not belong in someone else’s work. I’ve restructured entire pages before remembering that I’m not the author and the person doesn’t necessarily want a humor hit immediately after the dog dies.
  • Sometimes showing is more dramatic and effective than telling, but not always.
  •  Sentences containing the word “was” are not all passive. Sorry to the person whose work I annihilated. I’ve been reading up on basic grammar and shouldn’t make that mistake again.
  •  If judging a contest, NEVER tell the writer that you would have stopped reading if you didn’t have to judge the story. That’s just mean.
  •  Novels don’t have to be in deep POV.  Many successful writers have drawn readers into their stories without using the technique at all.
  •  Rhetorical devices can create interesting, amusing, and entertaining passages. They can also create cloying, artificial, and annoying pages to endure.
  •  Read dialogue aloud. If it doesn’t flow off your tongue, it probably won’t flow off the character’s tongue either.
  •  Don’t send people a first draft to critique. Fix the glaring errors yourself so the person doing the critique can concentrate more on plot, characterization, and flow.
  •  Find people to critique your work that understand and like your voice. If you write snarky vampire princess books, make sure the person who critiques your manuscript appreciates snarky vampire princesses.
  •  Be honest, but only if it’s helpful. A professor in college once told me that I couldn’t write a quality term paper because I had no talent for writing. I proved him wrong when I won a writing contest in law school and earned a spot on the International Tax Law Review. It wasn’t my lack of talent that hindered me; it was my lack of a quality teacher.

 

Alone in the Woods

Hiding in the woods on a fall afternoon is my favorite thing to do. I hike in about half a mile, carrying water, some Lara bars and my current read. The key is finding the right rock to sit on. Sitting on a log generally leaves my pants damp and bringing a folding chair defeats the point of communing with nature.

If I sit for about ten minutes, the birds begin to sing and sometimes a woodpecker will rap out a tune nearby. If someone or something comes close to my hiding spot, the birds stop. So as long as I hear my background music, I feel safe. The dog asleep at my feet gives me a sense of security too.

Usually, I can stay out for about two to four hours. No one around, no traffic sounds and nothing beeping or clicking or generally annoying me. By the time I return home, I’m refreshed.

The non-medicated way to stress relief.

Autumn in New England. Peaceful, beautiful.

Welcome

 It may not look like much now. Yet, in the next few weeks, this will become a place to explore some really cool stuff. Amazing, intelligent words that will leave you craving for more. You will beg, you will plead, but you’ll have to wait because I also need to finish other things in my life.

A list of things that need to be done before the next blog post:

  • Laundry. Trust me, we’re wrinkled and smelly. It must be done.
  • Decorating for Halloween. Apparently this is more important than decorating for any other holiday. The pagan gods are winning the war to create the best window displays and creepiest landscape designs.
  • Change my first novel from one genre to another. Thanks Romance Writers of America, I needed a challenge and you gave me one.
  • Write and edit the next 100 pages of my 2nd WIP. No problem, I write fast and hate exercising so I’ll have more time.
  • Walk the dog. When I’m in a hurry, I just take him out for a drive. He likes the change of scenery. Win-win.
  • Plant an obscene number of bulbs. They darn well better arrive in the spring or I’m calling in the groundhogs to clear the defects out.
  • Hanging with the family as we rush from activity to activity in pursuit of… I have no idea. I never rushed from activity to activity as a kid. I turned out fine. Just ask my therapist.

Hopefully, you have a more enjoyable week to look forward to.

Where I’d rather be…sailing in Hyannis.