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Critique and Self-Editing Essentials.

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Critique and Self-Editing Essentials.

Postby LightBrigade » Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:20 pm

Posted By: LightBrigade Aug 12, 2003 - 04:50 pm

After people write a poem, a story or an essay, they usually need opinion on the quality and effectiveness of their work. Such critique may include the points below.

However, a writer needs to have made sure the work is presented in understandable form. This makes it necessary for the work to be in harmony with the grammar and syntax standard rules of the language it is written in. Otherwise, instead of a poem, a story or an essay, the writer will have presented merely text!

The following critique and self–editing general guidelines concern authoring work, not text.

Every week, there is to be one post like the one below until the presentation is complete. Feedback should prove of value to all involved.

-------------------------------------
Bmat inspired this thread.
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Post One.

Postby LightBrigade » Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:24 pm

Posted By: LightBrigade Aug 12, 2003 - 04:51 pm

1. Premise. The premise is the reason for the work. New authors sometimes call it ‘idea’.

Control: Has the premise been presented clearly & developed in normal evolution & proved?

Example: If the writer set out to prove the premise, self-sacrifice leads to happiness, has that been done? Was the outcome of the story dependent on the self-sacrifice of the hero or heroine, or both? Was the resolution a matter of luck, fate, or hard work?

Key point: Even if the story is built with scenes aimed at proving the initial premise, if the actual outcome of the book does not relate to that premise, the story falls apart.

2. Appeal.

Control:
- Will the reader be touched emotionally?
- Can the reader truly identify with the hero?
- Are all characters sufficiently developed for the reader to care deeply about them?

Example: Are they sympathetic? Have they acted inconsistently in any scenes, doing something mean or stupid and alienating the reader?

Key point: If so, have they redeemed themselves or suffered the consequences in catharsis?

3. Character Credibility.

Control: Do the characters appear true?

Example: The hero and heroine of a romance must have opposing traits to make them interesting and to support conflict. The same can be said of heroes and villains in any story.

Key points:
- Are the characters too much alike?
- Does the action of the story allow them to display their characteristics to the maximum?
- Are they well motivated in every scene?
- Would they really behave as they did in every circumstance?
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Postby Bmat » Tue Apr 19, 2005 5:32 pm

Thank you for posting these, LB. They seem valuable for a writer.
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Postby Magus » Tue Apr 19, 2005 6:09 pm

I agree. It'll definitely make an indispensable guide or quick notes to look at for referencing.
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Postby LightBrigade » Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:59 pm

4. Character Development:

Did the characters change?
Did they grow naturally – for people, did they grow through the story like human beings do?

Or did they come, conquer and just… leave?

Control:

- Did the outcome of the story come about as a result of the changes in the characters?
- Was the outcome of the story influenced and moulded to be so as a result of the changes in the characters?

Example:

The main characters will discover new advantages and disadvantages in their personality.

Key point:

The main characters, not only the protagonist or protagonists of the story will develop and mature by the events of the story.

5. Character proof:

Why does a character exist?

A character may appear as true and developing, but may very well go through the end of the story like a meteor, alone, untouched and untouching the other characters. It then becomes a monument of the writer’s ego projected where the reader has just witnessed a mere delirium instead enjoying of a novel.

Control:

- Have the characters been securely bound to one another through the novel?
- Has each of the characters brought into the story fulfilled their purpose, their role?

Key points:

- Has a main character clashed with her own self to produce the cause for development?
- Has a main character or the main characters been in absolute nirvana with their self, righteous and holy or even glorified all the way in their petty smallness?

Particularly this second key point should convince the writer to take a holiday, starting at that very moment the writer realises all the work was done for nothing.

- Have the protagonist and the antagonist withdrawn from a situation (the writer just could not figure out how to end or develop) and thus deprived the story of a reason for further development?
- Have the hero and heroine avoided conflict, leaving the story void of substantial evolution?

Example:

Does _any_ of all the characters ask the writer in the end that they speak or do just a bit more?

That last issue is very important. It is often that story characters acquire a life in and of themselves.

A good writer listens to them.
When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. -- Oscar Wilde --
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Postby Magus » Thu Apr 28, 2005 7:27 pm

Yes, they do. I haven't even written many of my characters yet, or their stories. And yet, when I was done with one they clamored to be developed further. And thus my idea for my epic was born.

But character development is essential for a novel, very few can get by without it (and that's very VERY few). If you look at the movie The Birds you'll notice two characters in particular, a mother and a daughter. One is very protective and strong willed while the other is quite the opposite. By the end of the movie they have completely changed their roles through events that have transpired, one goes blind and the other takes care of her.

Characters must develop, must evolve. They are like any normal person, they just don't stay the same. Some parts of them do, and will likely never change. But something within a person is always subject to change.
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Postby LightBrigade » Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:14 pm

*nodding at the words of the fellow writer*

Perhaps this is another reason why writers so often wonder whether and how to create a new character or pick one out of the life they have known themselves *s*

We should perhaps mention this in another thread the question of how to create characters arose here, recently.

When a real character is included in a story, they more often than not complain when they read the book. Many writers have stated that they have found the real people these writers have included in their novels as characters, usually feel embarrassed and very often, treated unfairly. If not always, that is *accidental evil grin*

This often is when the writer is too honest to erect around the book character the same facade, the mask the real person has adopted for himself. *Oh, us naughty writers!- Smile*
When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. -- Oscar Wilde --
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Postby Magus » Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:23 pm

Yeah, this actually reminds me of an episode of Judging Amy where the brother, who's an author, has to write a story for some people who'll give him a big publishing contract if he can write a good story in less then a week. He's strapped for ideas, so he writes about his slightly dysfunctional family and his sister in law ends up reading the copy. When he finds out he tries to apologize but instead she thanks him for showing her what she is really like at times.
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Postby LightBrigade » Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:29 pm

*nodding* Precisely. Showing them what they are *s*

So here, if it is not too bold, I might ponder on how deeply and how widely into the very self of the writer, this wonderful adventure of writing may take the writer himself. A whole journey of revelations, sometimes!
Last edited by LightBrigade on Mon May 23, 2005 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby LightBrigade » Mon May 23, 2005 6:15 pm

6. General Premises.

A) Conflicts,
B) Spoilers, and
C) Turning points:

Are all the conflicts resolved by he end of the story?
Have all spoiler, suggestions about the events which will happen, been addressed?
Were the turning points, events which change the flow of the developments, founded and justified on the basis of what the reader has been told throughout the story?

Control:
- Did action lag behind, was some pronounced deed left unfinished?
- Have the characters and settings changed so as to depict the solution of conflicts?
- Has every single turning point had enough causes to take place and obvious, lasting results?
- Has every milestone in the writer’s plan been exposed as a part of the story or are few left undisclosed yet, perhaps of the obligatory sins of all writers, for the sake of extreme length?
- Has it expanded more than once, perhaps of the obligatory sins of all writers, for the sake of not enough length?

Example:
The divination was that the protagonist will meet ill fate. Till the end of the story, he does not. Consequently,
- Are there consequences for the oracle or the oracle status?
- Is the next divination taken into serious consideration?
- Has that second one come true?
- Are those who knew of the divination and believed in it, disappointed and is their subsequent business and schemes ruined?
- Does the reader now know why the first divination has not come true?
- Does the protagonist know why now?
- Has the reader been lead from the start to discern there is essence underneath the playing of puppets and the change of curtains in the background? – Is there any really?

Key points:
- After the reader closes the book, is he finally comfortably a part of the writer’s thoughts _and_ the characters’ feelings because there has been consistency?
- Is he finally of the population in the story where the gods do and the reader merely has to observe, helpless, because the writer put in too many inexplicable turns? (Omnipotent and smart deities who write books indulge in that sport.)
- If he feels helpless, is that because the writer engaged the imagination, managed to draw him so fast inside, till the very last line of the last page?
- How often has the reader mysteriously felt the urge to jump in and warn the characters, advise them, stretch his hand or bend to whisper soothing words and help or strike, knowing why things happen and suspecting he knows where they lead? – To prove the writer meant something far more beautiful eventually?
When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. -- Oscar Wilde --
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Postby berry » Tue Oct 18, 2005 8:28 am

To go back to your earlier point about character development. It is one of the things I find most difficult and often I wish to turn to the people I know or have known extremely well. My problem is that as most of my writing is of the comedy vain I am not prepared to risk my relationships for a good character, what I end up doing is creating characters that are not that realistic or rather a bit too 2 dimensional. Is this so bad? two of my favorite writer Charles Dickens and Douglas Adams both manage to make the most basic of personality traits work in thier characters with little damage to the stories. That said I don't think I am up to the complex story lines that help both those authors along and as a psychologist and counsellor my knowledge bends to personalities but I do not want to write really heavy stuff. What I am taking many words to ask is how do I give a chracter some flesh without having to add a whole outfit?
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Postby Magus » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:47 am

My opinion is this: Write in the most brutally honest way you can. If you don't then the only thing your doing is writing a story not to the best of your ability. The more brutally honest you are with your story the better it will be, and people may surprise you sometimes. I seriously doubt that a story will be the undoing of a friendship.
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