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First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

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s_c_baker
(@s_c_baker)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 979
Topic starter  

Tight on time, but want to give and get feedback?

Let's swap the first 450 words of our entries each quarter!

Why will this be helpful?
The first 450 words will be about the first two pages of your entry (if you're using Standard Manuscript Format, which you should be). This isn't much of a story, but unless you can successfully catch an editor's (or judge's, or for that matter reader's) attention in those first pages, it's all they're ever going to read.

It follows then, that you want those first four-fifty to be one of the most well-crafted, interesting pieces of the entire story.

What good is a bang-whizz-pow scene on page 36 if the reader stops on page 3 because they haven't seen a plot, character goal, or that you can write well enough to be interesting?

How this works
1) Respond to the thread indicating your willingness to take part and (optionally) the quarter(s) you're willing to participate.
2) Save the first four-hundred-and-fifty words of your story into a new document.

Once there are a few respondents, anyone interested can just send a PM to the four-fiftiers they'd like to swap story with. Er... With whom they'd like to swap story. (If there are more than a few, I'll clump the usernames up into this initial post for ease of reference.)

Due to contest rules, remember not to post any details about a particular story, or you'll get yourself disqualified.

Four-Fifty Guidelines
Obviously, when you're only looking at the first two pages of a story, critiquing is going to be a little ... different. You won't be able to comment on many broad issues (e.g. character development, plot, pacing). Your critiques will necessarily be as truncated as your reading material.

Here are a few things to consider. Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not rules. Do whatever works.
1) Does it keep your interest? - This is the most important thing. If ten out of fifteen readers get bored two pages in, the story's in trouble.
2) Is the plot easy to spot? - If the first two pages of a short story don't at least hint at a plot, readers may quit before they get there.
3) Is the protagonist likeable, or at least interesting? - Likewise.
4) Is there conflict? - Conflict drives a story. If there isn't any up front, this may account for lack of plot and interest.
5) Is there a clearly recognizable speculative elements? - For this contest, having an up-front-and-centre speculative element is essential.
6) I can haz grammer? - Technical aspects of the writing craft are last on this list, but certainly not least in importance.

So, let's-------------------[post truncated, 450 word limit reached]

Edit - Dustin has suggested I add some of the things DF says he looks for in the first few pages:

With that in mind, you might also want to look in your critiques for mentions of:
Setting
The five senses
The protagonist's name

and some of the things Tina mentions in this post on "dealbreakers".

Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.


   
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MJNL
 MJNL
(@mjnl)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 505
 

Great idea!

Edit: Nope, changed my mind. I'm in for Q4 2011 (current quarter). But if anyone wants to crit mine it has to be done by the 25th, because I have to submit by the 26th. So, if there are no takers this quarter, I understand.

~Marina

WotF Winner Q1 2012 (Vol. 29)

WotF Finalist Q2 2010 (Vol. 27)
WotF Finalist Q4 2011 (Vol. 28)
http://lostetter.wordpress.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/MarinaLostetter


   
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Rebecca Birch
(@rebecca-birch)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 625
 

Interesting idea.

I'd be in for Q4, although I agree that I'd like to try to be done by the 25th. Time grows short!

wotf010

Rebecca Birch
Finalist - 2, SF - 1, SHM - 1, HM - 18, R - 6
Words of Birch
Short Story Collection--Life Out of Harmony and Other Tales of Wonder


   
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s_c_baker
(@s_c_baker)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 979
Topic starter  

(Oh, and I'm obviously interested in doing this, in case that wasn't clear... wotf007 )

Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.


   
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Strycher
(@strycher)
Honorable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 667
 

I really like this idea, but I don't know that I'll actually have a Q4 entry this quarter. Dragon*Con sucked the life out of my project. wotf017 I can still give feedback, if you guys end up short on numbers.

"The Filigreed Cage" || "Bitter Remedy" || "Heartless" || "The Newsboy's Last Stand" || "Planar Ghosts"


   
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Jess
 Jess
(@jess_1617100647)
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Posts: 88
 

This is kind of an interesting approach. Useful feedback without full-story time investment.
I wouldn't mind participating.

Edit: Also, I should be able to get a response to someone by the 25th/26th without much trouble, since several people were talking about that time frame. (That assumes, of course, that it gets to me by, say, the 23rd or so.)

Oh dear. I need a signature.
And an avatar.
And probably other things I don't even know about.

I feel naked.


   
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WriteToLive
(@writetolive)
Estimable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 224
 

Even though I've already subbed, I'm in. I'm always interested to learn more about my writing from a crit exchange. ^_^

Michael Beers
Blog: Write To Live
Latest Out: Detroit Ex Nihilo at AESciFi
Now Available: Zion in For All Eternity: Tales of the Seven Deadly Sins (Dark Opus Press)


   
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David K
(@david-k)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 149
 

I'd be keen for next quarter -- Q1 post 30 sep wotf008

Very sporadic submitter but 9 HMs: latest Q1 2021
Author of Gateway Through Time: Available at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1112672


   
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gower21
(@gower21)
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Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 757
 

cool idea! I'm in-- and I can meet that deadline of the 25th, especially since it is only two pages.

Do we start PMing the other 450ers?

And my story is done, just sent it out two seconds ago to several readers for another re-read, so anyone willing to exchange a full manuscript I'm up for that too.

Tina
http://www.smashedpicketfences.com


   
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s_c_baker
(@s_c_baker)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 979
Topic starter  

A-yup, just PM away. Smile

Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.


   
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Rebecca Birch
(@rebecca-birch)
Honorable Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 625
 

This was a really good idea. Thanks a bunch for suggesting it!

wotf010

Rebecca Birch
Finalist - 2, SF - 1, SHM - 1, HM - 18, R - 6
Words of Birch
Short Story Collection--Life Out of Harmony and Other Tales of Wonder


   
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Harion
(@harion)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 18
 

i'm in. i can exchange the one i sent in or the one i'll be sending next quarter. if there are takers, you can PM me now.

Potpourri
WOTF entries:
Q1 Vol 29 - R
Q3 Vol 35 - HM
Q4 Vol 35 - R


   
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Jess
 Jess
(@jess_1617100647)
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Posts: 88
 

In my fuzzy drunken brain, I had myself a thought tonight. There's another thread around here somewhere discussing how beginning and ending were often what control story evaluation here. Thus, I wonder if we might consider "first 450/last 250" or something of that sort (assuming the story's a couple thousand words, at least...700 of, say, 1000 words seems a bit silly.)

Oh dear. I need a signature.
And an avatar.
And probably other things I don't even know about.

I feel naked.


   
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Harion
(@harion)
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 18
 

i'd just like to say that this is working out great for me. i've had 3 crits so far. one glowing (he read the whole story), and two ambivalent (both read just the first 450). the common crit between the 2 ambivalent was that i was not able to bring out a desire in them to continue the story. my change in tense and POVs were also criticized heavily. i do know PARALLELISM, when to change tense and when to keep the tense the same throughout a sentence or a paragraph. i find i broke no grammar rule on what i wrote but maybe i'm just blind to my grammar errors. the change in POV is just part of my story-telling, integral to the story, so i don't mind being told off about that.

overall, great experience for my first critique. wotf010 hope i can have more takers. keep those PM coming folks. wotf007

Potpourri
WOTF entries:
Q1 Vol 29 - R
Q3 Vol 35 - HM
Q4 Vol 35 - R


   
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Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Noble Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1077
 

I'm ready to do this for Q1 if anyone else is.

Just bomb me with an e-mail if you're ready, and I'll return with mine.
wotf009

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!


   
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s_c_baker
(@s_c_baker)
Prominent Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 979
Topic starter  

It's that time again.

If anybody's up for Q1 exchanges of the first 450, drop me a line! Mine is out and ready to go.

Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.


   
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Delli
(@delli)
Eminent Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 21
 

I'm in! Let's do this thing. <img src="{wotf}:wotf024:

Anyone who wants to - send me your four-fifty.


   
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hlf
 hlf
(@hlf)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 45
 

I'm interested. Consider me in.

HL Fullerton


   
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Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Noble Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1077
 

Edited to read, PM me doods! (and doodettes)

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!


   
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Strycher
(@strycher)
Honorable Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 667
 

We get spammers from time to time, so I think most people PM their info for critique exchanges. But it's your e-mail address. wotf017

"The Filigreed Cage" || "Bitter Remedy" || "Heartless" || "The Newsboy's Last Stand" || "Planar Ghosts"


   
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s_c_baker
(@s_c_baker)
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Posts: 979
Topic starter  

In that format, it probably won't get caught by automated spammers. Dedicated human ones would be able to send you an e-mail anyway, by clicking the little email icon next to your username. wotf007

Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.


   
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Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Noble Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1077
 

I think this board hides our e-mail address.
When I click it opens a form.

I'll probably remove it in it's current format. It's my work e-mail after all. wotf23

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!


   
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gower21
(@gower21)
Prominent Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 757
 

I'm also ready.

Tina
http://www.smashedpicketfences.com


   
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MJNL
 MJNL
(@mjnl)
Honorable Member
Joined: 12 years ago
Posts: 505
 

Well, my intended Q1 story hasn't boomeranged back from Clarkesworld quite as fast as I'd expected, but while it's sitting on someone’s hard drive it can get a nice quick-crit here.

Which is the long way of saying I'm in for Q1.

I'm in no rush this time around, and probably am not the best person to exchange with if you are in a rush, just fyi.

~Marina

WotF Winner Q1 2012 (Vol. 29)

WotF Finalist Q2 2010 (Vol. 27)
WotF Finalist Q4 2011 (Vol. 28)
http://lostetter.wordpress.com/
http://twitter.com/#!/MarinaLostetter


   
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Jess
 Jess
(@jess_1617100647)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 88
 

I'll be in on this too, as soon as I get around to cleaning up my story. (Which will be as soon as I finish this chapter of novel. It gets priority primarily because I've gotten going on it and don't want to lose momentum.)

Oh dear. I need a signature.
And an avatar.
And probably other things I don't even know about.

I feel naked.


   
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Jess
 Jess
(@jess_1617100647)
Trusted Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 88
 

Well, I've taken a little time to reexamine my intended story for Q1, and while it may still need a few edits later on, the first 450 is ready to go. If anybody's interested, please feel free to give me a holler. Thanks!

Oh dear. I need a signature.
And an avatar.
And probably other things I don't even know about.

I feel naked.


   
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Kary English
(@karyenglish)
Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 659
 

I'm in. Smile
Are we emailing these or pasting into a PM?

Cheers,

Kary

WOTF: 1 HM, 1 Semi, 2 Finalists, 1 Winner
Q2,V31 - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
Hugo and Astounding finalist, made the preliminary Stoker ballot (juried)
Published by Galaxy's Edge, DSF, StarShipSofa and TorNightfire


   
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s_c_baker
(@s_c_baker)
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Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 979
Topic starter  

I'm in. Smile
Are we emailing these or pasting into a PM?

Fair warning: my doc has two pieces for 900 words as I'm looking for a "this one or that one" call.

Cheers,

Kary

Mostly e-mailing (at least that's how I've been doing it), but PMing interest and to get the e-mail addresses.

Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
My contest history: Semi-finalist, R, HM, R, R, HM, HM, R, R, R, R, HM, R, R, R, R, Winner
My published fiction, poetry, &c.


   
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Jess
 Jess
(@jess_1617100647)
Trusted Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 88
 

Are we emailing these or pasting into a PM?

I've done both. It just depends how people prefer to handle it.

Oh dear. I need a signature.
And an avatar.
And probably other things I don't even know about.

I feel naked.


   
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Dustin Adams
(@axeminister)
Noble Member
Joined: 11 years ago
Posts: 1077
 

I have a brand new 450 ready for critique exchange.
It's based on the idea from my previous story. (scrapped)

I'd love for someone whose read my previous to take a look and let me know how they feel about the changes.
However, I would also love to get some new eyes on it. (Someone who doesn't know what's going on.)

Please send me an e-mail if you have my address already, a PM if you don't.

Also, if I could get a repeater, and I've already read your 450 for this Q, feel free to send me 450 of any story you have brewing.

2x Finalist
2x Semi
8x Silver
10x HM
Finalist #2 Read it here!


   
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