Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ask O Wednesday: Eight Power Rules for Critiquing

Thou Shalt ... 

Happy Wednesday my writing friends,

Last night my McCritters and I (sadly sans Annette) met for the first time in a long while! When I got home, my husband asked if we laughed a lot. Yay! Of course we did. But we also worked. It reminded me of how incredibly valuable a critique group is. We can't measure how much we've improved since we started meeting. 

In our group, we each contribute certain writing rules. Perhaps they are simply pet peeves we all look for when critiquing. Since you don’t get the benefit of sitting in McDonald’s (listening to all manner of crazy, piped-in music) and hearing us tout our rules, I’ll share them with you. My hope is you’ll employ these in your own critique group or simply while self-editing.

Today, I'll share Veronica's (V's) and Annette's (Net's) rules. Next week, Dawn's and mine. Enjoy!

V’s Rules
  1. The words look, turn, or walk shall not be used, never, hence and forevermore. Furthermore, any words showing equal capacity for dullness shall by hacked from any manuscript.

  1. All tenses shall be in agreement with one another. I broke this several times last night! I wrote his horrid thing: “She not only survived, but thrives.” Ah! Thank goodness V caught it.

  1. The use of “To Be” shall be eliminated at all costs—or at least severely limited. I had, “Moms seeking parenting knowledge is a growing segment.” V changed it to, “Moms seeking parenting knowledge comprises a growing segment.” Heck yeah! Much better.

  1. Characters’ names shall be used sparingly in dialog. One of my pet peeves too! Remember in the movie Titanic how they kept saying each other’s names: “Rose, watch out. Rose, what are you doing? Oh Rose, you’re so beautiful.” “Jack, why are you spitting over the side?” “Jack, my family will never accept you.” “Jack, don’t leave me!” Ugh!

Net’s Rules
  1. Romance shall be central. Three of the four McCritters are writing romance. Net is the BEST at reminding us to keep the romance thread strong. Whatever your genre, remember to constantly draw your plot and characters toward the goal that will satisfy your readers.

  1. Formatting shall be concise. I’ve never seen anyone catch misplaced spaces or odd indentations better.

  1. Body parts shall stay connected to one’s body. So my character’s eyeballs are flying across a room or his hands are wandering along the railing, what’s the big deal? (Note sarcasm.)

  1. The phrase “couldn’t help but” shall be cut from existence. This is just a tired phrase, way overused. Find something more interesting. 
Just like being there. Consider yourself an honorary McCritter. 

And don't forget to tune in next week for Dawn's and my rules. What are your writing rules? I'd love to hear. 


PS Feel free to send your questions for Ask O to me in the comments or on my website,


  1. Fun post, O!

    The blessings of a good--GREAT--critique group. <3

  2. Thank you for this great post, O. You've captured our fun-filled McCrit atmosphere so well! I laughed aloud reading through these tips! Yes! Ban "can't/couldn't help but," please!! :) Looking forward to next week's post. :D

  3. Thanks, my fellow McCritters! We do have fun touting our rules, don't we!

  4. I really appreciate this post! Makes me want to go through my manuscript and omit some egregious "crimes"!

    1. Thanks, Karen. Wait till next week for even more!


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave comments. We'll moderate and post them!