what I’m looking for in a critique

To those who have a copy in hand: I look forward to your feedback.

…but let me tell you what sort of feedback I’m looking for, and what you should and should not waste your time with.


  • punctuation
  • grammar
  • typos

(the novel is still in flux, with lots of bits being rewritten in the third draft, and all of this level of detail will be caught by the professional copy editor I contract with after this draft.)


  • world building problems (there are no bathrooms in the colony – isn’t that a problem!)
  • plot problems (X tries to kill Y for vengeance…but Y doesn’t do the bad thing until 15 chapters later)
  • character interior logical problems (X goes outside to investigate the noise…nakes and unarmed. Why didn’t he get get dressed and take his shotgun?)
  • flow problems type 1 (nothing happened between pages 15 and 90 – I almost put down the book!)
  • flow problems type 2 (you had fifteen planets explode and Luke is revealed to be Han’s father …all in two paragraphs!)
  • suspension of disbelief problems
  • embarassing dialogue
  • embarassing writing
  • lack of detail in a scene (“halfway through this chapter all I hear is two talking heads – where is this taking place?”)
  • lack of detail in a character (“he’s leading the lunar rebellion…but who is he? I can’t picture his face, his clothes….OR HIS MOTIVATION”)
  • absolutely anything else that causes you to pop up out of your enjoyment of the book and think “huh – that’s a little odd” or “huh – I’m reading a book” or “huh – this is self-published, and it shows”

If all else fails, please try to circle the worst one or two paragraphs in each chapter.

Feel free to ask questions in the comments.

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4 Responses to what I’m looking for in a critique

  1. eddie says:

    No: punctuation / grammar / typos. Yes: character interior logical problems.

    The otherwise unremarkable character “TJIC” is established early on as a detail-obsessed perfectionist. But in his blog post entitled what-im-looking-for-in-a-critique he forgets to close an italics tag in his HTML. That seems oddly out of character, and doesn’t seem to be relevant to the plot.

    • Travis J I Corcoran says:

      The first rule of secret-test-to-qualify-the-reviewers is DON’T TELL THE OTHER REVIEWERS.

      Sigh. Thanks a bunch Eddie!

  2. Micah says:

    How do you want comments? File dump at the end? As they come up?

    • Travis J I Corcoran says:

      The problem with “file dump at the end” is that the file might get lost, or you might get bored…so please email me as they occur to you (once a day / once a week / whatever works).


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