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Old 08-23-2009, 08:33 PM View Post #1 (Link) Critiquing Fiction
Mercy (Offline)
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The Brief Introduction

A detailed guide to the art of critiquing has been asked for, and so it is written, with Shaun's approval, of course. Following the creation of this guide means something. For one, please pay attention to this, newbies, you will not be able to say that you are "inexperienced" and therefore can not critique well. I understand that some people are able to critique more thoroughly than others, and that's fine. For example, Alex is far more thorough than I am. And he's not the only one better than me. So this will more of a basic tutorial than anything else.

If anyone has something to add [or a correction], please post a comment. In addition, thank you for reading this rambling mess, if you did.

The Basics: What to look for

Alright ladies and gents, as you all know, when critiquing we are attempting to help the author by pointing out the flaws and the good stuff. Which means, if you can, try to point out the good as well as the bad.

When critiquing, we need to know what to look for. For all of you who are new, pay attention.
Spoiler:

Look for:
  • Characterization
    - the way the character is presented. Two types: direct and indirect.
  • Spelling and Grammar
    - is everything techincally correct? Is a period in the write place? Did they spell "mango" correctly?
  • Plot
    - where is the story going? Does the sequence of events make sense?
  • Structure
    - how did they build the sentences? Are they all the same? The paragraphs? The setting up of the story?
  • Accuracy
    - how close is the story to being real? If Sue grows up in Florida, does it snow?
  • Voice
    - How does the story sound? Angry, sad, happy? Is it formal, informal?
  • Cohesiveness
    - how well does the story fit together? Does anything seem to be misplaced?
  • Pacing
    - How fast or slow is the story going?
  • Word Choice
    - Do some words just not fit?
  • Originality
    - Does it feel like you've read this before? What's familiar about it? Is it cliche?
  • Dialogue
    - Does what the characters say to each other seem absurd, fractured, a little off?
  • Theme *
    - What's the point?
  • Symbolism/Motifs *
    - Does something seem to mean something else? Maybe a candle doesn't just light up a room, maybe it also stands for something? Why do they keep talking about a certain object or event over and over again?
* These articles are not necessary, but might be asked for by the author. Also, please be sure to look for what the author is asking for!

The Example

Today was the day i
met the vampyre i loved it was a dark and sttormyknighwhnhe came into my bedroom. i nearly melted at the sight of his shiny beauty. then I woke up it was all a dreem.
Spoiler:
Today was the day i
I met the vampyre vampire i I loved period i capital I t was a dark and sttormy stormy knight knight refers to a person, night is the time whn when he came into my bedroom. i I nearly melted at the sight of his shiny beauty. Shiny? How can someone be shiny? Was he an alien-vampire? Was it the moon in the background that made him shimmer? Use different word choice here. In addition, the verb "melted" has been used in this situation one too many times. then I woke up it was all a dreem dream.

Overall, there was little to no plot....blah blah blah.

You get the picture?

The Example 2.0

The hawk broke through the sky, dragging its claws against the fabric of time and ripping its way from his mind into the gentle breeze of the physical world. Allen watched, his eyes pinned to the sky in astonishment. His dreams had turned to wishes, and the wishes had fabricated this creature from the ether.

But this moment came to a grinding halt: the hawk screeched and dissolved, violent and bloody, feathers and flesh wrenched from its body before disappearing like sugar in water. Allen chewed his fingers, wiped the salty blood from a cut along his arm, and administered a bandage. Then he stepped out of the field. Dark grass intermingled with prickly weeds scratched his legs, covered only to the knee by a pair of brown shorts.

“I can do it, Mason.” The image of a ghost flickered to life on the edge of the highway nearby. Cars passed through the ethereal presence, unaffected and oblivious. “Really, I can.”....
Spoiler:
The hawk broke through the sky, dragging its claws against the fabric of time and ripping its way from his mind into the gentle breeze of the physical world.This is an interesting opening, but I feel like you've got too much going on. Perhaps make it a little shorter. It's a mouthful. Allen watched, his eyes pinned to the sky in astonishment. His dreams had turned to wishes, and the wishes had fabricated this creature from the ether.

But this moment came to a grinding halt: the hawk screeched and dissolved, violent and bloody,
no comma? feathers and flesh wrenched from its body before disappearing like sugar in water. Allen chewed his fingers, wiped the salty blood from a cut along his arm, and administered a bandage. [strike]Then [/strike]you don't need "then" in fictional stories. It reads funny, like "then he did this, then this happened, blah blah blah". But I shouldn't be talking. ;he stepped out of the field. Dark grass intermingled with prickly weeds scratched his legs, covered only to the knee by a pair of brown shorts.

“I can do it, Mason.” The image of a ghost flickered to life on the edge of the highway nearby. Cars passed through the ethereal presence, unaffected and oblivious. “Really, I can.”......

Again, just try and sum up what you've said throughout the piece, maybe add something you just realized, whatever. By the way, that actual story is here.
[/quote]


Unacceptable Attempts

These, obviously, should never be done. But they will be, because not all people can read the rules or the guidelines or even research what a critique is. Just in case, here are some examples that are not accepted as critiques and will be deleted.
Spoiler:
  • OMG that was soooo good
  • That sucked. You need to work more.
  • there was a few bad grammer and it was REALLY boring make it more itneresting
  • LOL TYPOS
Etc. Yes, we have gotten some like this.

Etiquette

Critiquing is a learning tool, a chance to help others like ourselves. Keep these in mind:
Spoiler:

  • Don't bash the works or the author. There's a thin line between being harsh and bashing - don't cross it.
  • Don't argue/insult the critic. Sometimes it hurts, especially for new writers, to realize that your masterpiece is actually nothing special and that it needs a lot of work. We've all been through that once in our lives. The best thing to do is smile and take it, then go back to our word documents and write something better.
  • Don't be discouraged. A crit filled with read doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. Try to improve.
  • Don't just post a compliment saying a story is perfect. No story is perfect, not even those in print.
  • Remember to thank the critic. They have taken time out of their schedule to help you. You can thank them personally or give them a point by clicking the green check mark at the bottom of their post.
  • If you can, critique works by those that have critiqued you. It's not a must, but it can be a nice thing to do.
Final Thoughts

I hope this guide helps whoever is searching for it. Feel free to add on to it, message me for questions, complaints, whatever.

Good luck writing, everyone.

Links
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A Little Blog:
Yawning Chasms

Feel free to PM me for a critique!
How to Critique by Andy
The Great Newb Guide
by Tsuki

  
						Last edited by Mercy; 04-17-2010 at 05:21 PM.
					
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Old 04-10-2010, 01:36 PM View Post #2 (Link)
MetallicGryffon (Offline)
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To critique you fiction, you need to like fiction, or else all of your crits will be bad crits.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:18 PM View Post #3 (Link)
Anastasia (Offline)
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the advice was really helpful...thanks...even though i have done a few crits i saw that the tips you gave reminded me of why others critiqued me in a specific way...
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:30 AM View Post #4 (Link)
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thanks this really helped me!!!
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Old 09-14-2012, 12:43 AM View Post #5 (Link)
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This is awesome, and really helped me with my critiquing. Thanks!
Brett
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:41 PM View Post #6 (Link) Really helpful :)
Welshy97 (Offline)
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I have been notified that my critiques arent exactly top-of-the-world and was told this guide would help me with them. This guide has really helped me with my crits and i will take its advice on board.

Thnaks for posting
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