Critique Partners and Body Placement Diagrams

Manifestation Body Placement Diagram
Manifestation Body Placement Diagram

Getting critiques is always an interesting experience. After going through Rowan University’s Writing Arts program, I’ve been through quite a few workshop sessions, either group sessions (where the entire class reviews my work), or individual 1-on-1 critiques with a partner. These experiences helped me develop a thick skin for having my work read and criticized by others, and I’m always willing to listen to well-thought out, constructive critiques.

(Rude, insulting critiques written in aggressive language, on the other hand, are summarily ignored.)

I’ve been going through a lot of critiques lately, and I’ve been on both the sending and receiving end. In the past two months or so, I’ve had about half a dozen people critique the short story Belladonna that I’m revising, and I’ve gotten two critiques for my upcoming novel, Manifestation. I’ve also done at least a half a dozen critiques for friends, either for short stories they’re working on, or for sample chapters of their novel. I believe very much in a quid pro quo style of critiquing, and I’m always happy to offer my help back to the community that has supported me.

The beautiful part about having multiple critique partners is that they all offer something different. Each has a unique point of view and will notice things that others might not. Sometimes it’s simple things (both of my CPs for Manifestation caught some typos that the other one missed). Other times it’s more complex aspects of characterization and plot.

The diagram shown above was drawn by my friend Chris. He has a very tactical and visual mind. We’ve spent many years playing Dungeons & Dragons together, so he’s used to thinking in terms of strategic placement, movement through a battlefield, and other combat-oriented things. Because of this, he was able to catch some mistakes in one of the opening scenes of Manifestation, and he went so far as to draw a diagram pointing out how things would work (I photoshopped out some other elements of the diagram that contained spoilers). He’s also been extremely helpful in figuring out things like how some technology would work (for example, I had a few scenes where I improperly described a few things being done with a smartphone, where a tech-savvy CP was able to catch the errors).

My other CP for Manifestation is Eve Jacob (who has her own nifty site). By contrast to Chris, her notes more focused on specific character traits of the main characters in the novel. This is really helpful because many of these things are areas that Chris was silent. Part of the difference in the two CP styles may stem from the fact that Eve is a writer (and will therefore be more likely to notice things like plot and characterization), whereas Chris isn’t a writer and focuses more on things related to his areas of expertise. Having both perspectives simultaneously is helping a great deal with revisions.

I’ll probably have a couple of more people look over the novel after I’m finished going over these sets of notes. That way, since I’ll already have fixed the issues the first CPs pointed out, a new set of eyes will only be picking out new problems. The more eyes the better, since I need to put as much effort as possible into making this into the best book I can.

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