Some of you know I completed my Novel Writing course recently and had an amazing tutor, who was none other than the inspirational Sue Moorcroft. I love her writing and she is a wonderful and friendly person. I am lucky to have her here on my blog today talking about the critique service she offers aspiring writers like myself. I'll hand you over to Sue.
Having worked with writing students and competition entrants I know that some people hear the word ‘critique’ and have a vision of essays being returned covered in slashing red ink and scathing comments.
In fact, a good critique is an assessment of the work, highlighting and analysing the positives as well as the negatives. It will offer sturdy routes to development where needed, and be motivating.
For example, rather than:
(a) Your plot lacks pace
a good critique will offer:
(b) You can inject pace into your plot by beginning with what is currently page 2, which contains action and so drives the story forward. Page 1 consists of mainly background information, which tends to be static and should be woven in with a light hand.
Example (a) is demoralising and uninformative. Example (b) presents the issue in a more palatable form and explains how to make changes that will improve the work.
A good critique will look not just at the technical aspects of the writing but at the storytelling, the emotional connection between reader and characters and the freshness of your idea or the way it’s handled.
And it will be honest. If you just want someone to say, ‘Yes, very nice, dear,’ then you’re probably best to get an assessment from a doting relative or a cosy friend.
I’ve been approached to provide critiques often enough that now I’ve decided to make it official – see my Critique Service. If you think we’d work well together and have a short story, serial idea, synopsis, novel or three-chapter submission that you'd like read and appraised, or if you're interested in being mentored writer-to-writer, and just click on the link on my Critique Service page to email me and discuss it.
Sue’s tip: creating a short story structure
- remember that the Encyclopaedia Britannica definition of a short story is that it’s a ‘single episode’
- decide what conflict or puzzle you’re going to write about
- decide whose the conflict/puzzle is
- make it that character’s story, ie recognise that s/he is the central character
- give the central character the viewpoint
- begin at a point of change or significance and plunge into the story with action
- make the central character work out how to solve the conflict/puzzle herself or himself
- via a pivotal moment (which you might prefer to think of as a turning point or the key, in the case of a puzzle)
- to trigger the resolution
- rather than ‘ending’, think ‘conclusion’ – ie the resolution.
Then you will have a story that works or hangs together or whatever your favourite phrase is. NB, when I mention conflict I don’t necessarily mean a fight or an argument. Conflict comes in many guises. You could be writing about a character that’s scared of flying, or trying to beat the clock (internal conflict) or locked in a power struggle at work (external conflict). These are not bloody confrontations, but they are conflicts.
Sue Moorcroft writes novels about dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in the Contemporary Romantic Fiction category as well the Best Romantic Read Award 2012, which her novel Love & Freedom won in 2011. Darcie’s Dilemma was nominated for Best Romantic Ebook and Sue's a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner.
Combining writing success with her experience as a creative writing tutor with institutions including the University of Leicester, London School of Journalism, Chez Castillon, Adult Education Northants and Arte Umbria, she’s written Love Writing – How to Make Money From Writing Romantic and Erotic Fiction. Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and courses and is the head judge and a regular columnist for Writers’ Forum fiction competition.
Thank you Sue for stopping by. If you have any questions for Sue you can leave them in the comments and I'll pass them on to her or you can tweet her at the above link.