Remember that time I talked about how Robert Pattinson's hair reminds me of writing? Or how Kristen Stewart's face nails my brainstorming process perfectly? Well, this week I had another totally useless epiphany--the feedback I give my crit partners is a lot like 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???
Quick reminder: The results are in for Operation Awesome's December Mystery Agent Contest!! If you entered, believe me when I say you will NOT be disappointed!! Woot!
Now fess up: what's your critiquing style?