Questions to Critique By

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.)

Characters:

  • 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?

Voice

  • 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?

Pacing

  • 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?

Conflict

  • 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?

Plot

  • 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?

Tension

  • Is tension created at the outset of the book?
  • Are the protagonists compelling enough to heighten tension by the reading caring about them?

Fantasy

  • 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

Humor

  • 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?

That’s it.

What questions would you add to the list?

 

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