Archive for August 24th, 2011

Aug 24 2011

How to Critique or Beta-Review Works That You Find Awful

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

1. As with any critique, be polite and focus on potential improvements rather than insults.  For example, “I’d like to see deeper characters–it would probably help to flesh out their personalities and let them make unusual decisions compared to other characters in their genre”  is vastly more useful than “Your characters sucked.”  If the author is ever convinced that you’re not trying to help, you have virtually no chance of helping.  And, if you’re not trying to help, don’t waste your time or the author’s.


2. Don’t be dishonest, but do let them know what you liked.   It’d be very, very rare for somebody to write thousands of words without somehow doing something remotely effective.  For example, if an author had major issues with spelling but had really solid punctuation, it might be helpful to say something like “The punctuation was much cleaner than the spelling.”  It’s a bit softer than something like “The spelling needs a lot of work” and helps remind the author that you’re trying to help.  The positive encouragement will help the writer put in the time and work necessary to make any fixes and, let’s face it, if a novel manuscript really is awful it’s going to take hundreds or thousands of hours to rewrite it to a professional standard.


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