Critique Group

Cliches, Adverbs, and Syntax: The Ultimate Critique How To…Not!

In Craft, Dawn Allen, Genres on July 18, 2013 at 3:34 pm

2011-06-08 17.23.25  Go for the jugular!  Seriously. If you are going to go there, make it worth your while. Find every teeny-tiny error and magnify its importance as you rip that WIP to shreds. Make sure that you point out all those weak areas and flaws, highlight the gaps in plot, stereotyped characters, missing or completely wrong tropes, and don’t miss an opportunity to filet that writer for lazy grammar mistakes. You know the kind I mean. Come on, we all know the difference between there, their, and they’re. Don’t make me use this whip.

2011-07-10 17.54.16Genre matters. It doesn’t matter if you know nothing about the genre another writer writes in. Question everything they do anyway. Who said they’re an expert anyway? Isn’t your job to find the missing links? Perhaps, the tropes they’ve got are misplaced, and they won’t recognize the error of their ways until you correct them. It’s your obligation as their loyal critique partner to blast them for any drifting off the genre path. Don’t let your inexperience or lack of knowledge in that particular genre prevent you from foaming at the mouth.

2011-07-20 18.59.13 Writing is a dog eat dog business and let’s be honest, everyone else is your competitor. That includes your critique partners. They’ll sell your soul at the first sign of an editor so don’t think twice. Be a pig about time. Hog as much critique time as you can. Keep the others talking about your writing as much as possible. Your writing will only be the better for it. And brainstorming? Definitely be a pig about this. Keep as much of the focus on your work as possible. Get as much good material as you can before anyone else gets to discuss their WIP. This means that you ALWAYS go FIRST. This is NOT negotiable.

2012-05-23 17.39.44

Be brutal. When they bring that 1500 words to group, slice and dice until it’s not even remotely recognizable. Maybe 250 words left. Lean, people, we need lean. Keep that prose clean and neat. Orderly always. Get rid of all those adjectives and adverbs. Shun all passive structure! Ban uneven parallel structure. Or shudder…bad syntax period. It’s called tough love. Writers are people with stars in their eyes. Someone has to bring them down to earth. Better you than some outsider…like a book reviewer.

2013-03-29 13.36.22-1Burn, baby, burn. It’s sad to say; but sometimes, we just have to be cruel to be kind. When that time comes, do not hesitate to tell someone to burn their WIP and start over. Can a manuscript  be that bad? Oh, yes. AND we’ve all had one. Writers have difficulty letting go, and it is your job as the CP to let another writer know that their baby smells worse than a meatpacking plant during slaughter season. Pee-yew! Out she goes. Burn, baby, burn.

Writing is about ego. Writers face unending rejection so we have to build up that vanity. Best way to do that is on the back2011-10-01 21.01.33s of our fellow writers. At group, look down on your CP from your throne on high. You are so much better than them. Stronger wordsmith, better plot builder, more insightful story teller…the list of your strengths over theirs is endless. Share your almighty wisdom with them. Sit on high and be grateful you are above and they are…beneath you.

Disclaimer: No writers were harmed in the making of this blog post.



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