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.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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3 Responses to Elements Critique

  1. Sela Carsen says:

    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. Victoria Janssen says:

    I think the trick for me is figuring out which one I need.

  3. Savanna Kougar says:

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

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