Tuesday, August 28, 2012


As you may or may not have noticed, there is a second section to my blog, one titled Critiques. You see, I am more interested in critiquing readers' writing than doing my normal type of blog post. Here's a re-post of the rules:

All I want from you, my readers, is a page-length example of your writing, which I will comment on in my blog.

By a page I mean 400-500 words. You can send me a query letter, one page of a story you're working on (the first page would be preferable), ect. Just one caveat: no poetry. I don't know how to write good poetry, and I have limited tastes in it. So give me some prose, and I'll take a look. I don't expect a lot of people to participate at first, so if you send me something I'm pretty likely to use it.

Send me an email at arbiterofsanity AT gmail DOT com, with the subject line reading “Submission for deskoflaura” with the writing you want critiqued pasted into your email, not as an attachment or a link.

And to set an example, here's me critiquing a page of my own writing (that I hadn't looked at in several months):

After some time he saw a small trail of dust in the air between him and the city, then before the cloud a lone figure, walking toward him. This sentence is confusing. Could be worked as “After some time he saw a small trail of dust rising in the distance. Later he could make out a lone figure, at the head of the dust cloud.” He sped to a trot, and soon he could make out more of the figure. “The figure” is repetitive from the previous sentence. He was an erichthion, his pale green skin glistening in the heat. Starting this sentence with “he” makes it sound like you're still talking about the viewpoint character, but halfway through we get it's about the figure. Perhaps start with “it” and keep the “his.” He flashed in the light, and as Andren got closer he saw the flashes were from bronze jewelry. Okay. The only other thing he wore were baggy dun-colored pants, whipping one way they another in the wind. I believe you meant “then” not “they.”
The way he moved seemed wrong. His tail swung behind him, and his arms and toes were very long. This sentence doesn't mesh with the one before it. Try rewording it, perhaps to “He had a tail, and his arms and toes were too long.” His bare chest bore no nipples, and his face seemed neither masculine or feminine. Pretty awkward. I would cut the whole sentence. And as he came within a few hundred feet of him, he realized the erichthion was almost a foot taller than him. Or “As they came within a few hundred feet of one another, Andren could tell the erichthion was a foot taller than he was.”
He slowed back to a walk at this point. Cut “at this point.” The erichthion's face was blank, and he remembered with horror that Vigilem had said they didn't have facial expressions. Cut “Vigilem had said.” We don't need to remember how they know it along with the information. How would he know what they were thinking? Change it to “what he was thinking” to avoid reader confusion about whether he's thinking about the race or the individual.
He stopped. “Hail.”
Andren shifted to his other foot. “What?”
“It is no good to answer a question with another question. I asked you where the hail was. In case you haven't noticed, it's very hot right now.” Could cut “right now” to make the erichthion less long-winded.
“Ah. Well the word 'hail' serves as a greeting to my people.” Same goes for “well” in this sentense. If he's supposed to be long-winded, sure, but if not, cut.
“Do you live somewhere very cold?”
“Not particularly, though it is cooler than here. Let me start over. I am Andren, King of Halvmane. I request amnesty.”
“Are you dead yet?”
He blinked twice. “No.” Very nice exchange here.
“You have been trailed for quite some time. A few hunters followed you while a runner returned to Thang for instructions. Not many of your kind actually seek us out.”
“Trust me, I was nervous to do so.”
The creature's eyes darted about his person, taking it all in. Calculating how to best attack me? His eyes returned to Andren's face. “The Matriarch decided that if you traveled away from Thang, you were to be killed. If you kept coming, you were only to be followed. Because of my recent transgressions the Matriarch has appointed me to attend to you.” Comma after “transgressions.”
“Talking to me is punishment?” Missing an “a” between “is” and “punishment.”
Andren chewed his lip. “May I ask you what you did to be punished?”
“You may ask anything you like, but I won't guarantee I will answer you.”
Summary: This foreign race speaks too much like humans for my taste. It's a predator, make it use more visceral and action words. The description and action were fairly clunky, but the dialogue was better, with great pacing.

So don't be shy, shoot me an email with a page of your own writing, and I will tear it apart similarly.

And I'd like to announce that I will be posting on Fridays as well as Tuesdays from now on. See you then!


  1. Greetings!

    I am hopping over from GUTGAA and visitings some blogs before the fun begins! Nice to meet you...you have a lovely blog!

    Donna L Martin

    1. Hello!

      Nice to meet you as well. I actually found GUTGAA from your blog after taking a look at it from Laura B Writer. I enjoyed your post Wielding Weapons.

  2. Hi Laura,
    Thank you for your advice on my query letter over at Unicorn Bell:) I really appreciate your thoughts!
    I would love for you to contact me about any advice or suggestion you might have.
    My email is inkinthebook@gmail.com
    My blog is Inkinthebook.blogspot.com

    I'm part of GUTGAA too!

    1. You're welcome! Which query was yours? (I gave advice on three or four.) I'd be happy to once I know! And feel welcome to submit a page of your story, your updated query, etc, for review here on my blog.