How Blogging has Helped my Skills at Critiquing
This is a guest post from LWC member and editing student Rebecca Berto. Some of you may know Rebecca Berto as “Novel Girl”. She runs the blog Novel Girl which is dedicated to practical tips and advice for writers, comprehensive book reviews, and author interviews.
Take it away, Rebecca!
Isn’t this a fun topic? Combining the sometimes-tedious task of blogging and sifting through manuscripts with issues to result in something positive?
I’ve been blogging for a little under four months now and I am confident in my statement when I say my critiquing skills wouldn’t be as advanced as they are now if I never started my blog. Yes, my blog, Novel Girl, is about writing and books but even if yours isn’t these techniques below are still just as important.
Let me share what I’ve learnt from blogging that has helped me:
Preparing text (even if it’s a rant) into something structured, with meaningful pictures that break up the space, along with informative links, and a “marketing” frame of mind has helped me to improve picking up structural issues. When preparing a post, I’m constantly thinking:
- Is this paragraph too large?
- Is the sentence simple and coherent?
- Have I ordered the pictures in a pretty way to make the post seem easy to read and interesting?
I have goals when posting. If I’m posting on my blog about story structure, then I must also structure the information in a clear and sensible way. My first heading might be “First Plot Point”—and it’ll never come after “Midpoint”. I think about how the reader’s mind will process the information.
- Am I drowning my reader in too much information?
- Have I begun with a good hook to hold their interest?
- Have I explained the goal of my post accurately and fully?
Already I’ve asked myself questions, but I do this constantly as should you when critiquing.
- Have I described the midpoint in this post as I claimed I would at the start?
- Do I have a consistent voice? Or, do I slip from report-like to humorous and back again?
- Am I setting up the information, explaining it and then leaving the reader with a clear thought about my message?
Can you see how these points are relevant to critiquing? It’s a much easier task to sit back and analyse the manuscript you’ve got from a distant and structured point of view. In my blogging I have a message I want to give the reader; in critiquing, you need to pick the message and find the best way to flesh it out—does Mary struggle enough before she accepts Joel’s forgiveness? Does the climax occur too early and has every scene before it been an increasing setup of information for this moment?
What are your thoughts? What feature of blogging has improved your critiquing skills?
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