Monday, March 28, 2011

My Critiquing Stages a la Taylor Lautner's Body

So. A couple months back, I shared a post that I originally posted on my blog. That post was titled My Writing Stages a la Robert Pattinson's Hair.

Since my To-Do list is HUGE, I figured I'd share another post with a similar tone.

Folks, I give you...

My Critiquing Stages a la Taylor Lautner's Body

I know what you're thinking: "Amparo, stop looking for excuses to put up half-naked pictures of Taylor Lautner!" Believe me when I say this is not the case. There is a VERY VALID REASON, as you will see in a minute. *blushes*

All right. Let's get to it. Here are my critiquing stages a la Taylor Lautner's body:

Step One: My crit partners are very productive people. I am impressed by them. I am also jealous, but that revelation does little for this post. Anyway, my crit partners write their glorious manuscripts and send their latest babies to me. Once I am able to pry my face from Alexander Skarsgard's abs, I download their babies and read. In this first read, I simply focus on giving my uber-positive comments. Basically, I gush my brains out. Or make jokes. Sometimes both. The point is, I only highlight what makes the manuscript fun to read and easy to understand. My critique starts off a little on the light side, and sort of looks like this:

Step Two: I am a sucker for dialogue. Specifically, how it shows me who the character is. Voice is really important to me, and I'm super lucky to have crit partners with kickass voice. First, I focus on everything dialogue-related: whether what is said by Character A makes sense, does it clash with a previous action and/or interior monologue, is the scene dragging because the convos don't increase tension or give relevant info, etc. Then I dive in to the more style-related stuff, like whether there's too much passive voice, how well the words are flowing, the clarity of the setting/emotions/conflict. Little by little, my critique gets juiced up into something more meaningful. And, you know, a little thicker:

Step Three: After I read their pages, I give my overall impression at the end of the sample. I talk about what I loved best first, then I highlight the parts I think could be improved. By doing this, I feel like I'm giving my crit partners a more detailed version of what I scribbled on the Track Changes along the manuscript. But that's not the most important part, though. I find this Big Picture necessary because it gives me the chance to explain the Why better. Why I think some parts can be improved. Why I think the voice is awesome. Why I think the pacing should be tighter. Believe it or not, critiques are all about the Why. Without it, your partners will simply think you're a snob with no heart. The Why is what makes any manuscript better, folks. Use it. And when you do, you'll see that your critique bulks up to a point where it's fully fleshed out and uber-tight:

See? VERY VALID REASON for writing this post, right? Right???

Now fess up: what's your critiquing style?


  1. I am sooo sorry, but I think I barely heard a word you just said due to unrepentant staring at those god-like many abs...

  2. Oh I love this post... and not just for the abs. :)

  3. I am so glad that Amparo's posts follow mine! She is the antidote to all my sad topics!

  4. haha! I do much the same, but my group meetd in person so it's easier to elaborate. That first pic he looks so young. He has to be 18 by now, right? You could also stage by Jared Padelecki's abs...I know, you're a Dean lady like myself, but he changed through the seasons : )

  5. Great approach to critiques and what a wonderful approach to your post. . . nice visual aids for sure :-)

  6. ooo suddenly feeling the urge to go watch Eclipse :D Great post :D

  7. I don't really care what words you wrote but thanks for the last picture (so I don't feel as much like a perv commenting on the first 2 pics)...

  8. I feel a touch out of place as the only guy commenting on this post. Not sure why should be though.

    Couldn't agree more with the building up of detail as you go on - I kind of write the same way, adding extra touches and depth as I revise.

    Oh, and there were pictures?


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