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.

 

One thought on “Critiquing Novels 101

  1. Thank you for writing this article. I am semi-working on a novella and will be looking for critique partners soon.

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