Tag Archive - critique

The Way to Really Get Ready for NaNoWriMo

With the mayhem of NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month) approaching, I’d like to encourage writers to avoid wasting time and effort throwing something together in the month of November that’s basically a train wreck.

If your aim is just to complete a “novel” (let’s just call it that for now …) of about 50,000 words in one month, and the only reason for doing so is to feel good about meeting your commitment, then fine. If you don’t care about your final result, then fine. Just write your head off for a month, smile at your accomplishment, then throw the manuscript out.

I’ve been hired by some aspiring authors to critique and/or edit their NaNo product. I do believe it was a waste of their money to hire me to work on something that was such a mess (maybe a fun mess to create) but that had no potential at all to be fashioned into a solid novel.

You’ve heard it from me over and over. Novels need structure. And the best time to lay out that structure is BEFORE you start writing scenes. Put an outline together after you’ve studied novel structure. Use my 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction book and workbook, and study Layer Your NovelContinue Reading…

Lessons Learned from a Writing Critique

Today’s guest post is by Sylvie Soul.

I received my first dose of cold water reality when I paid to have my manuscript critiqued.

I started submitting my manuscript to various different contests shortly after it was completed. While it was not my first draft, I admit that what I submitted needed extra polish. Regardless, I felt confident enough in what I’d written to submit to a few contests whose deadlines were in May.

In a previous article I had mentioned the financial cost of participating in these competitions; for many I was essentially throwing money into a void with no expectation that I would receive anything of value in return.

However, I made an impulsive decision to enter one particular contest because it was offering the guarantee of a professional critique (for a nominal fee on top of the entry cost, natch). This seemed like the first real investment toward my writing since purchasing Scrivener.

Well, my manuscript did not make it through to the final round (big surprise), but I did receive a critique. Here are a few things that stuck out to me: Continue Reading…

The Burden of Your First Fifty Pages

I critique a lot of first chapters of novels. Having written twenty novels, I can attest to how difficult it is to craft those openings scenes. So much has to be included to set up the world of the characters, the premise, the tone and writing style, and the opening situation the protagonist is in. Yet, so much has to be left out in order to avoid backstory and info dumps that stall action and pacing.

It takes a lot of time and effort to master opening scenes.

These scenes are some of the most critical ones in your novel, so it behooves me to share what I wrote in a post a couple of years back. And I would like to encourage you to take advantage of my special discounted price on my fifty-page critique.

I do dozens of fifty-page critiques every year. I don’t know the exact count, but it’s what I encourage writers to start with when requesting help with their WIP (whether partially done or completed).

Why fifty and not one hundred? Why not twenty pages? Continue Reading…

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