Thursday, April 19, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: Questions Make The Best Critiques

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

Q is for Questions Make The Best Critiques 

I've been trading critiques for ten years or so and I can easily say that my favorite ones have asked me questions. Sure they tell me what they like and what they don't, and I'm always open to suggestions if someone has a better way to convey something, but it's the questions that are golden.

I know what I mean. I can see the story in my head and hear the character speak. I know why they're doing what they're doing. But is that on the page? Is it deep enough? Is it clear enough? Logical to anyone other than me? Not always.

So if anyone ever asks you to critique or beta read for them, do them a favor and ask questions. Obviously, questioning everything would get on the writer's nerves in no time, but if you're wondering something, ask. Even if it's something that you find out is explained two chapter later. I'd like to know when you start to wonder about it. Is it in the best interest of the story to keep that information from the reader for two more chapters or do I need to drop a little more info earlier on?

Why is the character doing this? I would think they would act this way: ____
What does this place look like?
Remind the writer to use senses. What does that old woman smell like?
Did the writer through some unexplained gizmo into the story? Am I supposed to know how this thing works?

There are so many possible questions. Don't hesitate to be inquisitive.  And writers, don't answer the person asking. Put the answers in the story.

Some of my favorite parts of books I've written came from answering questions asked by critique partners and editors. Think of it as your chance to ask the writer instead of yelling at the tv, "Why are those kids going into the dark woods in the deserted summer camp to make out?"

One question can spark a whole train of inspiration. Never be afraid to ask. 

Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.


  1. I know to expect to get some questions when someone critiques what I have written.

  2. Hi Jean - you're right ... asking questions always leads out to other things - and really we should all ask questions to interact ... good post for critiquers - cheers Hilary


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