March 20th, 2013

Leafy Oregano

Go Ahead — Write This Story: Critique format

A fast way to improve your writing is to critique someone else’s work: helping other writers improve their own writing. But how to critique? I learned a good method from Maureen F. McHugh.
1) Say what the works says or does in one or two sentences.
This way author can see if what you read is what he or she tried to write.
Describe the successes of the work. The author learns what not to change, which is essential information.
3) Describe the weakest parts. Note that gentle word, “weak.”
4) Give one or two ideas for the fastest and biggest improvements. You could suggest a million improvements, but try to focus.

If you want to write a story, here are a few ideas:

• This is a dark fantasy story in which a bombastic wood sprite endows wild animals with an understanding of hunting regulations.

• This is a horror story about a smart house that wants to please its family by earning a little extra money on the side.

• This is a Nebula-winning short story involving a couple who cannot agree on the genetic attributes they want to select for their first child.

— Sue Burke