Elements Critique

A writer friend once commented that sometimes she needed a critique on plot and sometimes she needed a critique on character. And I think she was absolutely right.

Characters make plot, of course. And plot affects character, giving them things to do and things to which they must react. Plot and character have synergy. Sometimes, though, one of them is working better than the other.

A physical example of what I mean: you’re lifting weights using a resistance machine. The weight for your left arm and the weight for your right arm move independently of each other. One of your arms is generally weaker than the other, so it takes concentration and skill to lift and lower both weights at the same speed.

If your plot is stronger, or your characters are stronger, the story can be out of balance or synch. An outside reader might be able to identify the problem for you: “The attacking herd of hippos is really awesome, but Ermengard never would have stood in front of Yvette; she’s terrified of any animal larger than a cat. She would run instead, wouldn’t she? Which means Yvette is the one who’d be more likely to take action.” Or, “I love that The Great Og has to make a difficult decision here, but ‘pea soup or lentil soup?’ isn’t as intense a choice as it could be.”

Identifying the root of the problem can make it a lot easier to solve. Sometimes it’s all in the angle you’re using to look.

Related Post:
Backwards Outlining.

Published by Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s writing showcases her voracious lifelong love of books. She reads over 120 new books each year, especially historical romance, fantasy, and space opera, and incorporates these genres into her erotic fiction. Her first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. When not writing, Victoria conducts research in libraries and graveyards, lectures about writing and selling erotica, and speaks at literary conventions on topics such as paranormal romance, urban fantasy, erotic science fiction/fantasy, and the empowerment of women through unconventional means. Her daily writing blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and author interviews. She also guest blogs for Heroes & Heartbreakers and The Criminal Element. She lives in Philadelphia.

3 replies on “Elements Critique”

  1. Der. Pick the pea soup. Lentils taste like dirt. ;)

    I agree. Sometimes I know that something specific is off in a scene, but I can't figure out how to fix it. That's when I need that particular critique to make it all work.

  2. Hmmmm… it does alll have to match up in intensity or it is off balance and doesn't work.

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