What Constitutes a Real Critique

This is primarily for First Impact, though I think it applies to critiquing in general. I offer the monthly prizes to encourage critiques, but I don't want you to think you have to work hard for it.*

Your critique does not have to be long. When I say only "real" critiques are entered for the prize, I mean useful critiques. Saying "This rocks!" or "This sucks!" is not useful.

However: "This rocks! I love how clearly you lay out the protagonist's choice at the end" is useful, and those 15 words totally count towards the monthly prize.

You don't have to be an expert, just a reader. The point of first impact material is to compel someone to read on. Agents are readers just like you and me, compelled by the same things. All you have to do is say whether or not it worked for you.

You will learn by critiquing. I've talked about this before, but the more you critique something -- anything -- the better you will get not only at critiquing but also writing. The critiques are for you as much as anyone else.

All that to say: DON'T BE AFRAID TO LEAVE A QUICK CRITIQUE. Writing is subjective, so multiple quick critiques can actually be more useful to a writer than one person's (points at self) verbose opinion.

When in doubt, just say whether or not you liked it and a brief note of why. That's all you gotta do. Here, why don't you practice now.

* Although the long critiques are most certainly appreciated. ALL critiques are.


linda said...

Hm, interesting. Personally, I wouldn't find your 15-word critique very useful if I got that on my query. I prefer more detailed critiques myself, so that's what I try to give other people. Plus, while praise is nice, I think critiques that can improve the query are even better. But hey, you're the one giving out the prizes. :)

Stephsco said...

I do agree the more specific a comment, the better, as Linda said. One of the worst bits of critique I've seen on an online forum was: "this feels told." This *feels* told? What they mean is the classic "show don't tell," but saying it like that just unnerved me. What feels told? TELL US what FEELS told. It "feels" ironic coming from another writer telling someone else they are doing too much telling.

Anyway, I think specifics help and also pointing out strengths.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Specifics are always a plus, as said above. And it doesn't take much to leave a one sentence comment that can really help someone out

sally apokedak said...

So are you mainly encouraging more people to join in or are you suggesting that we who are verbose need to tone it down?

As for me, when I read all those critiques it made me want to enter a first page. Because short or long, I love getting critiques and I thought the there was a lot of helpful stuff in those critiques on the last entry.

Thanks for running this. It's a great idea.

Angela Brown said...

It's cool getting the critique guidelines up front. And yeah, as much as "This rocks!" makes me feel good, getting some idea of how to improve or what makes the scene work well is nice. Helps to know what works in my writing and what doesn't.

Adam Heine said...

Definitely encouraging more people to join in. Please don't tone it down if verbose is what you want to give! As others stated above, more detail is better.

I just want people to know that short-but-specific still counts and is better than not critiquing at all :-)

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm going to have to catch back up first.