Friday, December 10, 2010

My Critiquing Stages a la Taylor Lautner's Body

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?


  1. Of COURSE you had a valid reason for this post...I COMPLETELY see the comparison! And I must say...

    Thank you for that last photo. yum.

  2. Oh wow, even as a young kid, Taylor had killer abs.

    I, um, had to read your post several times. That last photo kept distracting me. Wow, you're an amazing critter. :)

  3. I'm sorry - did you write anything in this post? I was distracted by the pictures...

  4. Wait ... were there words between those eye-popping pics? *goes back and checks* hmm...I can't see any words, only abs. ;-)


  5. LOL! You're awesome, Amparo! And as always, brilliant insights. I think I could stand to give more why's in my critiques. Sometimes I get in a rush to keep reading the awesome and forget to explain my last suggestion.

    Oh, and Woot for the contest results!! Mystery Agent was VERY generous this time around.

  6. Three gorgeous and perfect stages of critiquing. Perfect, well-toned and crikey so young I really must look away now!!! LOL! Take care

  7. Uber valid reason for this awesome post. :)

    As for my critting, I always try to give the why.

    Now I need to go look at the pictures again. Oops, I mean read the post. ;)

  8. That's a great way to go into analysis and depth of a body, I mean a critique. ;)

  9. Late to this post, but man. Now I'm a follower. You're a genius.

  10. *wipes drool* i agree entirely. with everything.

  11. LOL, you guys are AWESOME!! Thanks for the Taylor body love!

    Uh... I mean... The critiquing style love... *blushes*