How to write a critique

 

How to write an honest critique

By Janice Seagraves

 

The first publisher I worked with suggest that I work with a critique group to help improve my writing. Since then, I’ve been working on critiques nearly every couple of weeks for the last ten years. And in that time, I’ve gone through five critique groups and I even took a workshop on critiquing.

Here are some things to consider if you have been asked to do a critique or are doing critiques or possibly beta reading someone’s work.

Please keep in mind that this is someone’s baby.

They most probably have slaved away at this manuscript for months if not years.

So be kind.

They may not have ever had any feed back on their work before this.

Say nice things about the pages or manuscript you’re working on.

If you find misspelled words, simply correct it within the pages and move on, or leave a comment in a comment bubble: “I think you mean this word.” Everyone at some point will have problems misspelling a word or using a word that spelled just a little different than the word that they mean to use. Or maybe it’s a typo. We all have those brain fart moments. Don’t make a big deal about it. Just correct the spelling and move on.

One of the moderators for a critique group I work with likes to say, “Sugar and spice. Mark what you like as well as what needs work.”

If nothing else, compliment the genre they chose to write their story in.

I find that if you compliment the writer first, then they are more likely to consideration the changes you are suggesting.

And remember, it’s suggestions. You are producing a critique and they didn’t hire you to be an editor.

All critiques should be in the body of the pages you’re working on.

Use the comment bubbles in edit format.

I always go through the story first before I write a note at the start of the pages.

The note will usually start with why I like their story.

For example: Vampires stories are a very popular right now. Or I love your characters. I can totally picture them. Or this scene was very exciting and really grabbed  me.

Next, I’ll drop down to a new paragraph and write: Good Job. 😊

And then I’ll start another paragraph that usually begins with: and now for the critique.

Sometimes I’ll write that their pages were well written, and I only needed to mark a few things here and there. That will relax and ease your critique partner. Up to his point they might be really tense.

And then I’ll go to things I noticed.

Things to watch out for.

Maybe it was: You used look and looked a lot so I highlighted all I could find.

And then I’ll finish the note with this disclaimer: This is my opinion only. Please take it with a grain of salt. Use what works and toss the rest. And with every critique your mileage will vary.

Janice~

 

Back-story: Too much info? by Special Guest Lia Davis

Back-story: Too much info?

by Special Guest Lia Davis

 

One critique partner says to delete two paragraphs saying it’s data dump and slows the story. Another says it’s great back-story information, but asks if it can be spread out. A third loves the world building. What do you do? How do you know if the back-story info is too much?

First, critiques are opinions and suggestions. You take what works for your writing voice and toss the rest.

The crits I mentioned above are three examples of those suggestions. Why are they different? Because people are individuals and we don’t always read the words the same. What is too much info for one person may be just enough for another.

As the author, we have to find that balance. Will you please everyone? Not a chance. I find the balance that makes me happy with outcome, and of course my editor. When I’m doing my self editing/revision stage, I look for information that I would skip over as a reader. I ask myself if the information move the story along. If not, I decide of what needs to be there and what can be introduced later on or through dialogue. The biggest thing is if you, as a reader, will skip over it then others might as well.


 

FORGOTTEN VISIONS 

By 

Lia Davis 

 

Book Blurb:

Kalissa Bradenton isn’t your average coffee shop owner. Born to an elite witch bloodline with a rare genetic mutation, she’s a Divinity on a mission. The death of her parents sends her away from her Maxville, Florida, home and into an ancient war between witches and demons. When childhood friend Ayden Daniels comes to her aid after an almost fatal accident, visions of a past she doesn’t remember sparks an old flame and new desires. With the past slowly becoming clearer, she eagerly sets her sights on mending Ayden’s heart and gaining his trust–until a ghost from her past returns to claim her as his demonic mate.

Ayden, the new Sheriff of Maxville and grandson of the oldest living Divinity, is investigating a series of Divinity killings. When he comes face-to-face with the one woman he hopes to have little to no contact with, old pain rises, quickly followed by anger and resentment. Through his rare power of adaptability, he learns actions from the past may not be what they seem. Hope fills his broken heart and determination pushes him to do whatever it takes to win Kalissa’s heart once more before he loses her forever.

Together they must find the strength to mend their tormented souls, while fighting an evil out to destroy the world.

Now Available at Soul Mate Publishing | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARe

 

Excerpt:

Ayden Daniel had only been in Charlotte an hour before his cousin, Zach, called with a favor. No. Not quite a favor. A request that sounded more like a plea.

“You’re shittin’ me?”

“I’m afraid not. Charlotte PD said it was a hit and run.”

Right. “Please tell me she’s …”

“She’s alive. A bump on the head, but she’ll be okay.” Zach hesitated before continuing. “I know how you feel about her, but you’ll have to go get her.”

A muttered curse slipped from his lips at the same time his heart lodged in his throat. “Fine.” The word came out in an irritated huff. Ayden hung up and wished he had never answered the damn phone. No, that wasn’t completely true. He would never forgive himself if something happened to Kalissa that he could have prevented.

She was the one person he’d hoped to avoid as much as possible when he’d taken his place as Sheriff of Maxville. It wasn’t that he disliked her, that was the problem. Despite his better judgment and a glutton for punishment, he still cared too damn much for the woman.

The mere mention of her name made his pulse race with excitement. His body hardened at the thought of seeing her again after fifteen years. But his mind screamed to walk away. To let her be. Kalissa was trouble, and a hazard to his heart. She’d broken it once—torn it right out of his chest—at the age of seventeen.

A human friend had laughed at the mention of their young age and Ayden’s claim that she was the only one for him. A mistake on his part to confide in a human and expect him to understand magickin way of life. Magickin children developed at a faster rate. At the age of seventeen, he was as mature as most twenty-five-year-old humans and fully aware that he had met his eternal companion.

They were life partners—magical mates—destined to spend their extended lives together. To find one at such a young age was a gift.

A gift she stole from him.

 

 

Author Bio:

Lia Davis is a mother to two young adults and two very special, equally different kitty cats. She’s a wife to her soul mate, who drives her crazy during editing/revisions. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers. But it’s her home and she loves it!

An accounting major, Lia has always been a dreamer with a very activity imagination. The wheels in her head never stop. She only recently got serious about publishing her work and loves it more than she imagined. Writing a stress reliever that allows her to go off in her corner of the house and enter into another world that she created, leaving the day job where it belongs.

Her favorite things are spending time with family, traveling, reading, writing, chocolate, coffee, nature and hanging out with her kitties.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Thursday’s Thirteen: How to Destroy a Planet

I’m still polishing up my manuscript and got my critiques back on my free read that I’ll be posting soon. And low and behold my critique partner (who write SF) told me that I need to come up with a better reason for my Arcon planet to be destroyed.

In my own defense, I have a tendency do the research as I go along. Hey, even Steven King said (On Writing) he doesn’t let research slow him down, he writes the story, and then does the research later.

So I decided it was past time to fix that little problem.

Here are thirteen ways to destroy a planet:

1. Alderaan was destroyed by the Death Star on Star Wars and the only thing left was a nice little meteor shower. Neat and clean. According to Dr. Michio Kaku it is entirely possible to destroy a planet this way. You’d have to have a lot of H-bombs loaded in to do it though.  Then hit the planet with one after another until it’s blows up.

2. On Star Trek they had this huge thing that swallowed planets whole, a dooms day weapon, Krenim temporal incursion ship, General Order 24. Starfleet order for a starship to destroy all life on an entire planet, Planetcracker weapons and sunkiller bombs,Reman warbird Scimitar: Emits a specific type of radiation that will kill every living thing on a planet in seconds,Son’a collector (intended to strip radiation surrounding a planet thus rendering it uninhabitable),The Crystalline Entity that would feed by stripping planets of all organic life, The Xindi superweapon, Tox Uthat (A weapon from the future that would stop all fusion operations in a sun),Trilithium torpedo. Used by Dr. Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations to stop all the fusion reactions in a star, causing it to go nova, much like the Tox Uthat, Nomad. A small spacecraft resulting from the combination of two unrelated craft that was able to “sterilize” entire planetary populations (The Changeling). And on and on.

3. Doctor Who, the Daleks and TARDISes have both been shown to be capable of moving planets, and would thus be capable of relocating a planet into a star, nova, black hole, or other inhospitable location that would destroy it.

4. Men in Black II had the evil Serlena who’s ship is seen making vengeful blasts on searched planets, causing an icy one to shatter and another to implode.

5. in Farscape is that the knowledge of wormholes contained in the head of John Crichton can be used to create a planet-killing weapon; in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars Crichton finally builds and activates such a weapon to show that it is much worse; it is in fact a galaxy-killer. Under threat of everyone being consumed by the weapon, he convinces the Peacekeepers and Scarrans to pursue peace negotiations in return for him turning it off.

6. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Vogon civil services are not only able to demolish entire planets, but have means and cause to do so regularly (to create and maintain hyperspace by-passes). The Earth falls victim to one such fleet in the beginning of the story to make way for a hyperspace expressway.

However since I don’t have any evil villainous aliens that destroyed my Arcon’s planet that’s out of the question. So that leaves a natural phenomenon.

7. An asteroid would kill off all the inhabitants of a planet,  like Armageddon. That’s what killed off the dinosaurs. However, it wouldn’t destroy the planet. But my Arcons are a space faring race, wouldn’t they just hop into their spaceships and destroy that asteroid?

8. A rogue planet (orphan planet) that had been eject from it solar system might destroy a planet. In the early development of our solar system the Earth was hit by a rough planet. That’s why our world had a molten mental core. But the Earth wasn’t destroyed, it was remade. Gravity has this funny way of pulling a planet back together again.

9. A comet like in Deep Impact could kill off everyone on my planet, but again it wouldn’t destroy my planet.

No, I need something bigger and meaner.

10. The sun is big and with  about 109 times that of Earth, and its mass (about 2×1030 kilograms, 330,000 times that of Earth) accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Chemically, about three quarters of the Sun’s mass consists of hydrogen, while the rest is mostly helium. The Sun’s hot corona continuously expands in space creating the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that extends to the heliopause at roughly 100 astronomical units. The bubble in the interstellar medium formed by the solar wind, the heliosphere, is the largest continuous structure in the Solar System.

But a normal sun is only as dangerous as it solar flares.

11. A quark-nova is a hypothetical type of supernova that could occur if a neutron star spontaneously collapsed to become a quark star.  When a neutron star spins down, it could convert to a quark star through a process known as quark deconfinement. The resultant star would have quark matter in its interior. The process would release immense amounts of energy, perhaps explaining the most energetic explosions in the universeQuark-novae may be one cause of gamma ray bursts. Rapidly spinning neutron stars with masses between 1.5 and 1.8 solar masses are theoretically the best candidates for conversion due to spin down of the star within a Hubble time. This amounts to a small fraction of the projected neutron star population. A conservative estimate based on this indicates that up to two quark-novae may occur in the observable universe each day.

Theoretically, quark stars would be radio-quiet, so radio-quiet neutron stars may be quark stars.

But they maybe too quiet and the Arcons wouldn’t know that the darn ray was heading their way.

12. A super nova would be powerful enough to destroy a planet, and my Arcon would see that coming with time enough to build their big spaceships.

But I don’t really need the Arcon’s sun to go super nova. 

13. A near-Earth supernova is a supernova close enough to the Earth to have noticeable effects on its biosphere. Depending upon the type and energy of the supernova, it could be as far as 3000 light-years away. Gamma rays from a supernova would induce a chemical reaction in the upper atmosphere converting molecular nitrogen into nitrogen oxides, depleting the ozone layerenough to expose the surface to harmful solar and cosmic radiation. This has been proposed as the cause of the Ordovician–Silurian extinction, which resulted in the death of nearly 60% of the oceanic life on Earth.

Here’s my Ah-ha moment—If I gave the Arcons an unstable sun with continuous solar storms, solar flares and then a super solar event–that would do a great deal of damage to their planet.

And could ultimately destroy it.

Exodus Arcon Trailer