Daily Archives: June 2, 2011

Critique Clinic: passage rewrite

So, if you didn’t break up with your critters after yesterday’s post let me reassure you that a crit partner or team is one of the best tools a writer can have.  In fact, they can shape up a manuscript in ways we never dream possible.

Often we don’t have a clue what to do with the feedback we receive.  Do we want line-edits or vague commentary?  And how, pray tell, do we do incorporate simple statements into workable material?

I’d like to offer you a mini clinic with actual passages and feedback so you can see a critique in action.  A big thanks goes to John Sankovich, one of my crit buddies over on AQ, for letting me use his manuscript as an example. 

A little background on this YA piece: we have an MC with special powers who finds herself thrust into a dangerous situation.  Her mother did not survive the latest attack.  A young man has been there to support MC since the beginning and will be the second side of a love triangle.  Our MC just got out of the tub and is wrapped in a towel when said triangle side enters with a breakfast tray.  Just before leaving he tells her he’s sorry about her loss.

She didn’t have a response and watched him leave her to the waiting breakfast. Her heart raced and she clenched her fists. How can she deal with Kellen and her growing powers? 

 To which this comment was attached by a crit partner: Oh no you don’t!  Don’t cheat me out of this heart-skipping moment.  I guarantee you, your readers want him to touch her right now.  Her hand, skin on skin, letting her feel things she’s not ready to feel.  Whatever.  Just don’t let this chance slip by to connect these two.

What follows is a quick, but fabulous rewrite that gets to the heart of this budding relationship. 

“No problem. I’m sure you’ll repay the favor someday.” He reached for the door keeping his cool intact. “I’m really sorry about your mom. I didn’t know how to tell you last night.”

She didn’t have a response and watched him twist the doorknob. His hand remained there for a moment and she stepped closer. Her body moved while her mind screamed for her to stop. He dropped his hand and moved toward her. His warmth caught her off guard and she looked into his eyes. Her heart raced, threatening to explode. He touched her cheek, his soft fingers caressing her and she opened her mouth to say something, but her mind refused to form words. He leaned in closer, she tilted her head back and he kissed her. Gently, a peck that increased the longing. He ran his hand down her arm and studied her. His eyes seeming to delve into her soul. Her body melted and if it wasn’t for her telekinesis, she would have collapsed in the middle of the room.

“I’ve been wanting to do that since that night at the gas station.” He left.

Her mind exploded into a thousand colors as she slumped to her knees. Her entire body shook.

And that, my writer friends, is how it’s done. 

So, what do you think?  Are you opposed to such directive comments or do you prefer something simpler: build character connections here?  How does feedback jumpstart your muse?   

For more examples of how critiques have shaped writing, please follow me.  I’ll be blogging at From the Write Angle on Friday.