[The critique questions below are only some of the questions you'll ask yourself as you critique another person's work. Add to this list as you need to. ]
Critiquing a chapter over a period of time. (Several rewrites)
The first critique should be an overview of plot and character. Questions you should ask include--
Does this chapter advance the story?
Tell more about the characters?
Give plot information?
Does it work with the chapter before it?
Later critiques should also examine the nuts and bolts of grammar, spelling, language, dialogue, point of view, correct historical and scientific information, etc.
Specific elements to examine in a general critique
Do the characters and plot work well together, or is the plot just pasted on?
Does it make sense?
Does one thing lead to another?
Has the story started at the right place?
Does the action escalate?
Are more plot questions asked before a plot question is resolved?
Does the plot fit genre boundaries?
Does each character sound different?
Are the characters doing what they, as characters and personalities, should be doing, or are they being moved around for the convenience of the author?
Do we understand why they are doing certain things?
Does each major character have a strength and a weakness which will be affected by the plot?
In the romantic relationship, is their emotional conflict strong enough for the length of the work?
Will it take more than one long talk to resolve their conflict?
Does their romantic relationship work with the action plot?
In the action plot, is the conflict between the hero and his opponent strong enough?
Is the opponent strong enough to really push the hero to his limits?
Next week, I'll cover craft and worldbuilding questions.
Marilynn's Workshop Schedule and Information Links
Writing the First Chapter, January 3-31, 2011.
Drawing a reader into the first chapter of your novel is more than an exciting beginning, more than a “cute meet,” more than a sexy hero and a feisty heroine. Step by step, I'll show you the craft needed to draw the reader into your novel and make her eager to keep reading. I'll also show you how to set up the goals for the main characters and for the novel.
Writing in the Moment, April 11-May 8, 2011
How to get your voice, viewpoint, and craft so perfect that you disappear and your story comes alive. Lots of worksheets.
The Blurb: Mother of All Promotions July 25-August 7, 2011
A blurb is the pithy description of your novel in a query letter, the short "elevator pitch" used at a writer's conference, the log line for online promotion, and the all important back cover copy for a published novel. Without a great blurb, a novel won't be noticed by agents and editors.
Marilynn Byerly--creator of a blurb system used by university publishing courses, publishers, and many authors-- will show you how to create that perfect blurb for your novel. The course will include a number of worksheets and in-class blurb analysis.