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  1. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 7, 2015
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    The middle of the UK

    How do you choose which excerpts to have critiqued?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by NiallRoach, Nov 5, 2016.

    For those of you who put excerpts up for critique on the workshop; how do you choose which parts to post?

    I'm fairly confident with my novel as a whole, but I want to see if there's anything someone else might spot which I'm too close to and crops up repeatedly.
  2. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributing Member

    Oct 13, 2016
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    Lisbon, Portugal
    I haven't posted anything here but I once ventured to post a very short excerpt of a novel I'm working on on my blog (also not here). I was expecting someone to reply "Lady, don't quit your day job", but I had a very good comment instead! From a stranger, no less! That was wonderful! :)

    I chose that excerpt because it was a battle scene, and since I'm not good *cough*I suck*cough* at battle scenes I had rewritten it some twenty times already. I was asking for blunt, merciless honesty, in hopes that someone might say something to help me with it. I tried to start the excerpt in a part where it was relatively easy for readers to pick up the story and I ended it in a part where it felt like a little "conclusion" to that bit.
    In short, I chose a part that was giving me headaches because I wanted help, not praise.
    Carly Berg and Catrin Lewis like this.
  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    Puerto Rico
    I usually choose something that's still very nascent and not very formed. Firstly, this alleviates the issue of having parts of my novel posted online. What you see posted isn't even close to how the scene will end up. Secondly, I sift through the comments for things that help give me direction for my ideas.
  4. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid Supporter

    Jun 21, 2016
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    I'd say whenever you attempt to write something out of your comfort zone it can be nice to get feedback just so you don't write yourself in the wrong direction. You should also only post first draft samples, so basically samples that will ultimately be cut from the finished product or at the very least heavily altered. Like @Wreybies said, you don't want to post your novels online since that can be a problem with publishers later. If you're happy with a piece you've written, don't post it. Anything I'm genuinely happy with I keep as it is until I have a "full" product that can be beta-read so that I can get feedback on the work as a whole, rather than just the sample.

    From my experience on this forum and others, the best way to be critiqued is to have a specific thing in mind. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't allow critics to point out whatever they want, it just means that you should have a specific thing you want to get better at at a time. For example, if you struggle to write scenes with a lot of tension, post a sample where that is the main point of the scene. I often find that I don't even need suggestions on what I can do to fix my problem, I just need critics to tell me how they felt about the piece and what seemed off to them, and I can usually figure it out with some dedication. You don't want to be dependent on critics to make a good product, it's not their job to make sure your book is good, so if someone says that they didn't like your dialogue or your action scenes or whatever it may be, because they're "too much of this" or "too much of that", don't try to make them give you examples on how to fix it. Figure it out. ;)
    Lifeline and Wreybies like this.
  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

    Aug 12, 2015
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    London, UK
    I post my first scenes/chapters, depending on length. That first impression is so crucial, so that's the bit I want the most opinions on.

    Beta readers will identify problems with the rest, including any parts I'm troubled by. I don't see the point in posting something from the middle of a novel and asking for anything but SPAG/mechanical critique - it's impossible to accurately judge anything else without knowing what's come before. Even if you posted a scene and asked something simple like "Is this scary?", you won't get accurate answers: scariness depends on the mood that's been set up to that point, the reader's investment in the characters, and so much more.
    U.G. Ridley likes this.
  6. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributing Member Contributor

    Jan 22, 2015
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    Thinking of England
    I don't use critique forums much anymore because after a long stint with them, I find that my one solid "super critter" is usually enough now. But otherwise, if it's short enough, I put up the whole story, since I am not going to get help with something I don't post, and I don't know where this latest crazy forum rumor about it ruining your chances for publication came from anyway. Sorry to keep harping on it but I really hate these false rumors that circulate around the forums when they are detrimental to the goal of getting work polished and submitted. It's always something...

    Also, I only post it after I've done the best I can with it myself. The forum etiquette I'm used to includes the thought that it's rude to ask others to put the effort into your story before you've put your own best effort into it yourself. So it kinda surprises me when I see things like "Here's something I tossed together in an hour last night when I was drunk. Enjoy!" :/

    For longer works, I post the first scene or chapter, then keep going, one at a time from there for a few chapters before switching to beta readers. But there, too, I go through and make any changes that I agree with throughout the whole book first (or as much of it as is done at the time). Many corrections are things we do throughout so it goes back to putting in your own best effort before troubling someone else with it. (It also keeps people from deciding to quit bothering with you, thinking that you don't listen anyway). I haven't checked on here but I know of a couple of other forums that allow you to post novel chapters in an organized way that encourages people to stick with it all the way through (especially when they're writing a novel, too). Right now, Critique Circle and Scribophile come to mind.

    One thing I have noticed is a lot of unpublished novels have very tight, polished, beautiful first chapters, then it all goes to hell so much that it's obvious where the critiques stopped. But it's hard to get people to stay with a whole book a chapter at a time, and it's also hard to find betas who will do that much detail on a whole novel. So I'm not sure what to do about that...
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  7. izzybot

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Jun 3, 2015
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    SC, USA
    Lucky me, I write mostly short stories, so I don't have to pick excerpts :D

    The snippet of a novella that I shared on here was a piece that I thought might have a specific problem. That's how I'd usually do it: if you think there's an issue, find a part that exemplifies that issue and post it. I also really liked the "share your first three sentences" thread since openings are always something that need work, so that could be an option - share your opening chapter, or first few paragraphs, however much feels right, just to see if it grabs.

    Since you're talking about your novel as a whole, though, finding a beta to read the entire thing is probably the best thing to consider.
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Dark, is it not? Contributor

    Aug 8, 2015
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    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I don't post excerpts anymore, because they usually get nothing for feed back. When they
    do it is typically by vultures. So why bother. At least in my exp.

    But then again your writing is not as shitty is mine. :)
  9. Desertphile

    Desertphile Member

    Nov 25, 2016
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    Pretty much the most important part of a book is the beginning; seems to me that is what most writers need to have critiqued.

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