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?