The Critiquing Process

A Critique is a Fresh Pair of Eyes

Writing is a labor of love. You find yourself thinking about your story all the time, making notes on scraps of paper so you don’t forget a good idea, and you’re eager to sit down and put the tale on paper. You’ve done the most important part: you wrote a story from beginning to end.

Now comes the work. Making a story good enough to appeal to the masses is hard. No one sits down and writes a best seller the first time around or even after several edits. A fresh pair of eyes with some experience in the critiquing process, someone who isn’t attached to the story needs to read it as well.

Stories are Comprised of Scenes

Scenes are comprised of a beginning, a middle, and an end and they must be interesting, have action, conflict, and be important to the plot. Each scene needs to move the story forward and keep the reader turning the page. A compelling scene has several components that bring it to life on the page. When you build a house, you need nails or it will fall down. You need to use all the components in a scene just as you need nails to build a good house.

When you submit your story to an agent or publisher, the first place it goes is called the slush pile. A slush reader for the agent or publisher decides if your story is worth the investment and pushes it up the line to the next stop in the process – the publisher or agent. I have been a slush pile reader, and I can honestly say there were thousands of stories that had great ideas but were missing too many components to be worth the time and investment. They had to be rejected. Don’t let that be you.

This is where I come in. I can help you with the components of each scene, such as:



Good characters leap off the page and feel like real people. They bring the reader into the story and make them feel like they are in the character’s shoes. Each character needs to have a goal and a conflict they have to surmount. They need thoughts and feelings and a good foundation for overcoming the conflict. Readers like to know what the characters see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Bring your characters to life, make them real, and give them dimension with a critique from me.



By action, I don’t mean guns blazing, or car chases, or hair on fire running for your life. Action is in the showing of what is happening in the scene and can be as simple as your character eating a meal. You achieve action by writing compelling sentences that are not full of unnecessary detail, exposition, and redundant words. In other words, your sentences show the action; they don’t just tell the reader what is happening. Telling makes your story a boring grocery list of details with no emotion, no action, and gives the reader no connection to the story. They won’t care what happens next.


You’d like to think this is the easiest part of the story, but often it is not. Stilted, stiff, unnatural sounding dialogue is boring. When your characters speak, it needs to sound natural and flow smoothly.


The setting of your novel–be it on the battlefield in a war, outer space, or a kitchen table–is a character in the story. I can help you see where to add more detail and where you have too much detail.

The plot:

The plot is the story. Is it full of holes, things that are not working, or have you written your characters into a place you can’t get them out of? The plot also has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Were you able to accomplish that and take the story to a conclusion? If you wrote a story set in historical times, did you accidentally put a cellphone in chapter five?


Every story needs conflict. Something your character does or doesn’t overcome. Good conflict can be external such as the weather, the environment, or other characters. It can be internal like depression, fighting the urge to fall in love with the wrong hunk-a-hunk of burning love, or illness. Do you have good, strong conflicts in your story?


Does the pace of the story flow smoothly, or are there glitches that slow everything down to a boring crawl? A good, easy-to-read pace carries the reader along and doesn’t bore them.


A story with no tension isn’t going to get read. It’s going to end up in the trash. I can help you build tension and keep the reader reading.

Contact me at friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and watch the inspiration for my stories unfold on Pinterest. Let me take a look at your story. I can help you become a better writer.

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