We’re just gonna have to change TTT until I’m not teaching so early Thursday mornings.
I’m reading a book and loving it. It’s called The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith. Smith won a 2015 Printz Honor for Grasshopper Jungle.
Have you read either book? What do you think?
Have you submitted work to a contest, or a publisher, or an agent lately? How about to a critique group? Or just to a friend to get a “first impression” of your work?
It’s tough, no matter whether your “critic” knows what he or she is doing or not. If he/she does know what to do, what to recommend, did you really want to know what someone thought of it? Or did you just want a pat on the back.
I think most people truly involved with writing may know what they’re saying. They may not always know how hurtful it can be. On the other hand, if you gave the materials up willingly, hopefully, you need to take their ideas into consideration.
Here are two people with writing ability and knowledge who have interesting takes on the process:
“Listen carefully to first criticisms of your work. Not just what it is about your work the critics don’t like — then cultivate it. That’s the part of your work that’s individual and worth keeping.” ~ Jean Cocteau
“I would recommend the cultivation of extreme indifference to both praise and blame because praise will lead you to vanity, and blame will lead you to self-pity, and both are bad for writers.” John Berryman
This year I was excited to be able to work as a judge for book awards again. As you might imagine, one of the most difficult aspects is ranking the books you read yesterday to the ones you read six months ago.
Therefore, I present Cheryl’s Rubric of Amazingness! I have ten sections, and for each section I award up to ten points. It’s not a perfect system (for instance, this year I had a three-way tie at 94) but it works for me.
Quality of storyline
-Is there a strong arc? Is there an opening, a point of no return, etc, etc.?
-Is the climax effective? Is it in the correct place?
-Is the first page strong? Does the story start in the correct place?
-is the ending strong? Is the story problem resolved? Is it cut off early to force room for a sequel?
-does the character change and grow?
-is the character’s motivation known?
-is the character likeable?
-is the character relatable?
-is it unique?
-is it recognizable?
-is it realistic?
-are they fleshed out?
-do they have their own arcs?
-are they cliche?
-is it realistic?
-is it appropriate to the characters?
-is there some that should have been eliminated? (Hellos, goodbyes, etc.)
-is the story original?
-do I want to keep reading?
-do I feel the way the author intended for me to feel?
-does it flow smoothly?
-does the arc rise organically or is it forced?
-is there enough/too much time spent in each part of the storyline?
Genre Specific Questions:
(This example is for fantasy, romance or coming-of-age novels would have different questions)
-Originality of world and magic
-Is there a cost to magic?
-Is the description woven in, or is it info dumped?
Quality of writing
-are there incorrect dialogue tags?
-are there adverbs where there should be stronger verbs?
-do the metaphors work? Are they awkward or forced? Are they appropriate for the character?
-are the descriptions strong? Are they overly loquacious? Is there a strong sense of place?
-is the setting strong? Is there a “feel” for the area? Is the town/country unique and defined?
Grammar and editing
-variation of sentence length, musicality of prose
-sentences that all start the same way
-overuse of phrases
NOTE FROM CAROL–So you could use this as you write your own books.