Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Critique Guidelines for the Secret Agent Contest

Guidelines for Critique on MSFV:
  • Please leave your critique for each entry in the comment box for that entry.
  • Please choose a screen name to sign your comments. The screen name DOES NOT have to be your real name; however, it needs to be an identifiable name.  ("Anonymous" is not a name.)
  • Critiques should be honest but kind, helpful but sensitive.
  • Critiques that attack the writer or are couched in unkind words will be deleted.*
  • Cheerleading IS NOT THE SAME as critiquing.  Please don't cheerlead.
  • Having said that, it is perfectly acceptable to say positive things about an entry that you feel is strong.  To make these positive comments more helpful, say why it's a strong entry.
  • ENTRANTS: As your way of "giving back", please critique a minimum of 5 other entries.

*I can't possibly read every comment.  If you ever see a comment that is truly snarky, please email me.  I count on your help.


  1. How long does this contest last? I'm not sure.

  2. Winners will be announced on Monday.

  3. It's been interesting to read the comments. So much is lost if you just read 250 words. So many comments refer to things that are addressed in the next paragraph or 2. So, I guess that means more has to happen in the first 250 words. Something to think about as I revise and tweak. I really appreciate the feedback.

  4. Thanks!

    Yes, a lot is lost if you read only the first 250 words of a manuscript. I'm not sure a lot more has to happen in that space, but you should definitely be building toward something.

  5. It's not that more has to happen -- in fact, that is a common error (trying to make too much happen too fast). Rather, the key is building enough inherent tension to make the reader want to keep reading. It's a subtle thing that takes practice!

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. I agree, too many writers strive to make too much happen within a very short space and it often just doesn't work. It takes time to build an interest in a character or a problem. You don't want to divulge everything at once.

  8. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I really appreciate the feedback!