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How to critique creative writing

  • 15.05.2019

Does it make you want to keep reading? Does the opening have a hook or story question? Conflict Does the piece contain conflict? Is it physical conflict or mental conflict — in your opinion does it work?

What exactly gives you that feeling? How can you avoid giving it to someone else? Giving the right kind of critique takes some effort and thoughtfulness. And in doing so, you'll be developing both your critical thinking skills and your skills as a writer, too. You will have to sort them out from the useful ones and make your own decisions. But save this sorting-out for later. Otherwise, the sorting-out process will interfere with your ability to listen.

And you'll probably do a better job of sorting out the good advice from the bad if you take some time first to digest everything. Take careful notes on ALL the feedback and ask questions if there's something you don't understand. Don't argue with the critiquer or defend your piece. Don't even try to explain it. After the critique, we suggest taking a break before you try to sort the feedback out. Getting a critique can be hard. Relax a little afterwards.

Go out with some friends; watch TV; get a good night's sleep. It will improve your perspective. This break might last twenty-four hours or a couple of weeks -- however long you need to get some emotional distance on the process. Then take a fresh look at what you've written.

Some people combine these two stages or steps, and process their response to a piece very quickly. This certainly may be appropriate in some cases. The danger it is that you may stop at the first stage and not want to do the harder work of actually critiquing a piece. One thing I always ask myself in responding to a piece of writing is What are the terms of this piece?

In other words, what is the writer trying to do? Unfortunately, because the language is so abstract and distanced, the story never engages you. To critique this story, you go through step No.

In this case, the writer might need to try a different approach to the material, such as trying it in third person, rather than simply revise here and there. In another case, you see, for example, that the writer is attempting to be humorous or lighthearted. Did the story start at the right place? Did it end at the right place in the plot? Are there scenes which do not seem to further the plot? Were there too many flashbacks, which broke your attention? If the piece was a short story, were there too many subplots?

If the piece was a novel, could it be improved by more attention to the subplots or have more subplots? Conversely, does it have too many subplots and you got confused about what was happening?

Was every subplot useful? Did it add to the overall story or did the author seem to stick it in just for complexity? Resolution of conflict: Did the conflict and tension in the plots and subplots come to some reasonable ending? Or did the author leave us hanging, wondering what happened? When you finished, were there things that you still felt needed to be explained?

If the author did leave some conflict unresolved, did they indicate somewhere that future stories are pending? Setting Is there enough description of the background in the story to paint a picture that seems real enough for the reader?

Did you feel that you were transported to 'that time or place'? Was there too much description so modern readers might tend to become bored? Was the description written with cliches? Did the author use good enough names for people, places, and things? Names help set the tone for a story. Were some names of people hard to keep track of? Did some names seem inconsistent with the character?

Were the names too stereotypical? Similarly, Bubbles La Toure is hardly the name of a saintly nun, whereas Modesty Blaise is a sexy and intriguing name for a female counterpart of James Bond. Did the author convince you that people in that time or place would behave that way? Is the timing and order of events in the story consistent?

For example, did John drive his new car on his vacation in chapter six but it wasn't until chapter ten that he bought it? Characterization Did the people seem real? Allow for failure The ability to offer constructive feedback is a skill that develops over time. It takes practice to grow into the kind of reader who can observe the writerly moves beneath the words.

Allow yourself to fail at this in the beginning. Just as writing takes practice, so does the art of critique. The first time I offered feedback to a classmate, I focused on their punctuation and use of passive voice.

I felt ridiculous when all of the other students asked leading questions and focused on the content. But, I learned from my failure. The students gave me a safe place to fail while demonstrating how to do it better.

Chances are, the critique has already shown them their folly. This course is amazing. It can be awkward at first — after all, who wants to be the bearer of bad news and almost every critique contains at least a little bad news? To critique this story, you go through step No. It takes practice to grow into the kind of reader who can observe the writerly moves beneath the words. To just bash the story without providing something useful to the author is not really being professional.

Did you get enough of a sense of paradoxes within the character? Have you ever struggled with providing critiques to other writers? Every writer has a different voice and approach.
How to critique creative writing
If the story was written in the third person POV, as most stories are, did the story stick with the omniscient all knowing POV, use a limited POV where we don't know everyone's motives except by clues from their words or actions , or did the author mix the two? What's not working about the character or the situation, or the writing itself? They have family, friends, a job, worries, ambitions, etc. Take a wide lens view Remember you are critiquing the overall craft, not mechanics like punctuation and misspellings. Can the reader easily sense what is happening physically to the main character?

The checklist things to look for Opening Do the first few sentences or paragraphs of the story grab your attention? There is also our sense of the writer, whether she wants and need a lot of criticism or needs basically affirmation in order to proceed, or permission to engage in a lot more process as opposed to rushing a product. As [critics], don't we have a responsibility to not only point out what needs changing, as we see it, but also what worked and why, so the writer WON'T change it and will be encouraged to produce more of the same? Language like "I think the story could be even better if. This will usually be a trade, in which you swap critiques, an arrangement that should be mutually beneficial. Enough of their emotions, attitudes, values?
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In short, I had no idea college I was rescinded. The first time around, I did not succeed on either essays. But, with two more years of critique ahead acceptance me, I needed to find a way to improve both my and my fellow writers experience. How to give a writing critique 1.
Which ones do you want to ignore? We are all on a journey towards improvement in our craft. Can the reader easily sense what is happening physically to the main character? How do they use description? In my most recent submission, every classmate recommended I remove my favorite quotation.

And if you think others mind find it useful, please do share it. Trust your instincts. Did you point out any typos or misspelling? We cannot grow, otherwise.
It takes practice to grow into the kind of reader who can observe the writerly moves beneath the words. Ask the writer to delve deeper where the work is shallow. It is sometimes tempting to change someone else's piece to make it more like something YOU would have written. Are there scenes which do not seem to further the plot? Names help set the tone for a story. Continue Reading.

Would it help to put blank lines between paragraphs? This certainly may be appropriate in some cases. At the same time, we need some general ideas and approaches to guide us. In my most recent submission, every classmate recommended I remove my favorite quotation.
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How to critique creative writing
Read the piece at least once more and take notes again. Take notes on what you observe the author accomplishing across the pages. Setting How well is the setting described?

As a writer, it helps to be plan. And guess what? Anyone can read a piece of writing and for that it is good or bad, weak or strong, pdf that it succeeded or failed. The tips below explain how to provide gym that are helpful and respectful. Other writers will openly declare that business is always welcome.
Style You may wish to comment on the style the story was written in, e. Both are important to the development of your craft. When you finished, were there things that you still felt needed to be explained?

Anyone can read a piece of writing and opine that it is good or bad, weak or strong, or that it succeeded or failed. If you are the person they feel is qualified to provide that feedback, then embrace the invitation as an honor, and approach it with respect. This may help them better understand your viewpoint. But deliver your opinion. Don't argue with the critiquer or defend your piece.
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These are the narcissistic types who write more for their own egos than for the sake of the craft itself. Were there too many grammatical errors, misuse of punctuation, run-on sentences, etc.? The critique process Don't read other critiques of this story yet. I don't have a lot of time to write, working two jobs, but I am doing the ten-minute exercise with each lesson, and each evening, trying to get in the habit of sitting myself down to write Anyone can read a piece of writing and opine that it is good or bad, weak or strong, or that it succeeded or failed.
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Comments

Gacage

How does it function in terms of what you feel the writer is trying to do? The first example is an appropriate critique whereas the second is both unprofessional and inconsiderate. In another case, you see, for example, that the writer is attempting to be humorous or lighthearted. How many times have you missed that in your writing because you passed over it without seeing it?

Julmaran

But when I think I see a touchdown, I cheer. To grow and cultivate our craft, we need to sit down and do the work, but we also need each other. Now consciously read the piece through more critically. If you are the person they feel is qualified to provide that feedback, then embrace the invitation as an honor, and approach it with respect.

Malazuru

Don't we often base our decision to buy or not buy upon those first few sentences? You need to address the piece in light of its terms.

Tauzil

There is also our sense of the writer, whether she wants and need a lot of criticism or needs basically affirmation in order to proceed, or permission to engage in a lot more process as opposed to rushing a product.

Migul

Make solid suggestions for improvement. Exchanges like these are a sign that this is not a beneficial or positive critique relationship.

Nak

It was of good value to me as it got me started thinking more deeply about my characters. Read the piece through the first time as a pure consumer, for interest and hopefully enjoyment. It will improve your perspective. Resolution of conflict: Did the conflict and tension in the plots and subplots come to some reasonable ending? This course is amazing. Bear in mind that some of these questions may be affected by whether the piece is a standalone short story or a section of a larger piece — for example, when it comes to character development and plot.

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