Thursday, February 03, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter--what I hope to get from my critiquers

Mind Over Matter is off to my crit crew, which is usually a few trusted readers who are also good writers, plus a couple of folks who volunteer.

There's a difference between a critique and an edit that a lot of folks don't get. Edits are very specific and are usually corrections rather than suggestions. Naturally, finding typos constitutes and edit. Going through a manuscript and picking out all the passive voice, is IMHO, an edit. Edits also are focused on what is wrong in a story.

Critiques are more general and broader reaching--comments on voice, point of view, plot progression and the like. Sometimes, these combine with edits, like if a critiquer points out an instance of head-hopping. (That's changing the point of view from one character to another in the middle of a paragraph or scene.) Critiques also focus on what's right. So a critique might sound like
"I didn't believe Joshua's motivation when he..."
"You mentioned this fact four times. We get it already!"
"This is an intense scene!"
"I love how you..."
"You do really well when you ____ in this scene; I'd like to see you do more of that in _____chapter."
"This flashback threw me out of the story; could you rewrite it in realtime and put it earlier?"

I'm not looking for a line-by-line, because I'm not ready for that, and I also do pretty well with that on my own. However, I'm hoping I can get some good feedback on the book as a whole.


Terri said...

Amen. This is one of the reasons, I gave up on critique groups. Most of them turn into editing groups counting every "is" or "was" and pointing out the punctuation marks missed or whether a certain word is used correctly.

What I need before I get to all that is the "big picture" what works. What doesn't. Did you feel satified with the ending. Were there parts that were boring? And as important as where I missed the mark is identifying places where I hit a home run.

Good post.

Karina Fabian said...

Thanks, Terri. I think a lot of folks don't know how to give a good crit--or are afraid of giving one. I know I hesitate to give a structural crit because I may hurt the person's feelings or get all my hard work (I can spend HOURS crafting a good crit) brushed off.