I’m going to get the taxes ready today! I’m going to get the taxes ready today!
But first, I have to declutter my work space.
And I should start a load of laundry.
And it snowed outside, so I really should shovel.
Oooh! There’s a Downton Abbey I haven’t seen yet.
Today’s a perfect day for chili. I should start on that and let it slow cook.
AAAND I have an idea for a new story. So I better write it down before I forget.
I’m going to get the taxes ready tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. Absolutely tomorrow, no doubt about it!
Celebrate Black History Month with an incredible offer from Chronicle. The multiple award winning story of the dazzling life of Josephine Baker, Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell is available at a remarkably low price thru February 15th.
Patricia Hruby Powell is a fellow author in my local SCBWI network and her story of Josephine is like no other.
I am handing out a story that I have revised once to my critique group. Whenever I give them a full manuscript to read I like to attach a suggestion sheet of questions they can ponder while critiquing. We are a pretty green group and I want to get constructive feedback, not just a pat on the back. I limit the questions to two to three per category.
These questions are also helpful for when I am self-editing. I would like to say these are all original questions, but I once heard someone say, ideas are original when you can’t remember where you first heard it. Many of these questions have been taken from a checklist I found on line here, but I narrowed it down and added some of my own. So from my bag of tricks, I give you Questions to Critique By.
(FYI – I start by giving my critique group an idea of what I feel is pertinent information about the story like intended audience and what I am trying to achieve in plot and character development.)
- Are their voices consistent with their characters? Do you see places where their voice slip or where it can be amplified?
- Are the characters rich and developed or flat and stereotypic?
- Are there too many characters or too much time spent on secondary characters that detracts from the main plot of the story and the focus on the protagonist?
- Does the writing style seem fresh, original?
- Does the mood of the characters influence how they see their world?
- Does the overall tone and style of the writing work well for the story?
- How does the pacing of the story feel? Does the book drag in spots due to excessive narration or from uninteresting scenes?
- In faster action scenes, does the pace speed up with shorter sentences and paragraphs?
- Are the scenes moving at a good clip or do they need some trimming?
- Is there an overarching conflict present in the story that is key to the premise and grows to a climax and resolution?
- Do the protagonists face one conflict or obstacle after another (each worse than the previous) that force them to have to make tough decisions?
- Does the overall plot come across clearly in the novel?
- Are there scenes in the book that do not serve the plot and don’t seem to have a point?
- Is the plot interesting and engaging?
- Is tension created at the outset of the book?
- Are the protagonists compelling enough to heighten tension by the reading caring about them?
- These are creatures developed in my mind, do you have a clear understanding of what they are, what they do, what they look like? (Keep in mind, I expect this will be an illustrated book, so I am leaving some room for the illustrator to help create my character’s appearance.)
- What questions would you want answered in this book about these creatures that have not been addressed?
Show and Tell
- Consider the sensory detail. What parts overload the senses? What parts could use more sensory detail?
- Is the language vivid?
- Were there scenes where your mental movie projector had problems seeing the scenes? If so, which ones
- Did you have laugh out loud moments? If so, where?
- Are there segments where the humor could be pushed? Or dialed back?
- It was intended to be funny (at least some parts). Did it happen?
What questions would you add to the list?