Saturday, October 30, 2010


Once a month, I devote a writing-day to winning the Critters Writers Workshop weekly Most Productive Critter award. It's a lot of fun, because I like winning stuff, and it's useful, because I get to see a lot of different mindsets behind stories. I heartily recommend it, but that's not the point of this post.

I want to talk about critiquing: what I get out of it and my approach to it.

First, how I get my work critiqued. Writing Excuses confused my terminology a bit, because they say "Alpha readers" for what Wikipedia calls "Beta readers". But I prefer it that way, since I use both.

After I re-read the rough draft and feel it acceptable, I stamp it manuscript and submit it, while letting Alpha readers take a look. The Alpha readers are my loyal corps of suckers whose work I'm familiar enough with to be confident they know what they're talking about. The manuscripts that have some controversial element or an especially experimental format go to the Beta readers, AKA Critters. Casting a wide net will reveal what people feel about the manuscript, and I'll know if it achieved what I wanted. Or get a new perspective on the piece that I can apply to the next one.

Second, how I critique. I roll through the manuscript and mark every part I liked and mention all that, then I talk about what I liked about the plot overall.

I'm not a copy-editor, so I don't worry about grammar and spelling. I'm not a co-writer, so it's not my job to comment on the idea, but rather to critique the presentation of the idea. So all you people writing zombie robot vampire assassin mysteries in a time travel re-telling of Biblical events, I will never even mention that that is ridiculous. Because nothing's ridiculous if it's well-executed.



Critters Writers Workshop
250 words? Yes
Short Story "Cosmast Rhyt"
- - - -
Reading - ?



  1. Seems like a really good critique method to use.
    And I agree with ridiculous concepts being acceptable when they're well-executed. Sometimes that's even part of the charm!

  2. It's so true. I read, watch and listen to Everything, and my only demand is that it be well-done. And not Country Music. For whatever reason, that's my only irrational bias.


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