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:
The five senses
The protagonist's name
and some of the things Tina mentions in this post on "dealbreakers"