First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

For confidential exchange of story critiques
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s_c_baker
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First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby s_c_baker » Wed Sep 21, 2011 1:59 pm

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".
Last edited by s_c_baker on Thu Nov 15, 2012 3:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby MJNL » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:09 pm

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

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WotF Finalist Q2 2010 (Vol. 27)
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Rebecca Birch » Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:28 pm

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
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby s_c_baker » Wed Sep 21, 2011 3:15 pm

(Oh, and I'm obviously interested in doing this, in case that wasn't clear... wotf007 )
Stewart C Baker - 1st place, Q2 V32
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Strycher » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:04 pm

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.

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Jess » Wed Sep 21, 2011 5:08 pm

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.)
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby WriteToLive » Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:06 pm

Even though I've already subbed, I'm in. I'm always interested to learn more about my writing from a crit exchange. ^_^
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby DavidK » Thu Sep 22, 2011 12:32 am

I'd be keen for next quarter -- Q1 post 30 sep wotf008
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby gower21 » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:16 am

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.

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby s_c_baker » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:55 pm

A-yup, just PM away. :)
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
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Rebecca Birch » Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:57 pm

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

wotf010
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Harion » Fri Sep 23, 2011 10:41 pm

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.

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Jess » Fri Sep 23, 2011 11:16 pm

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.)
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Harion » Sun Sep 25, 2011 7:34 pm

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

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:23 am

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.
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby s_c_baker » Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:04 pm

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
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Delli » Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:38 am

I'm in! Let's do this thing. wotf024

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

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby hlf » Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:44 am

I'm interested. Consider me in.

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Dustin Adams » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:53 am

Edited to read, PM me doods! (and doodettes)
Last edited by Dustin Adams on Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Strycher » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:13 am

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

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby s_c_baker » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:42 am

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
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Dustin Adams » Wed Nov 09, 2011 12:13 pm

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
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby gower21 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 1:36 pm

I'm also ready.

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby MJNL » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:07 pm

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)

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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Jess » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:54 pm

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.)
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Jess » Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:09 am

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!
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Kary English » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:09 am

I'm in. :)

Are we emailing these or pasting into a PM?


Cheers,

Kary
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby s_c_baker » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:48 am

Kary James wrote:I'm in. :)

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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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Jess » Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:53 pm

Kary James wrote:Are we emailing these or pasting into a PM?


I've done both. It just depends how people prefer to handle it.
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Re: First Four-Fifty Critique Exchanges

Postby Dustin Adams » Mon Nov 21, 2011 5:56 am

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.
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