15 questions for critiquing

When I send a manuscript out to critique partners for them to read and offer feedback on, I nearly always get the question, "So what sort of feedback are you looking for?" And I generally answer with something along the lines of, "Mostly big-picture stuff. Plot arc, character development, that sort of thing." Which, in retrospect, I’m sure was entirely not helpful to my critique partners in clarifying what they should focus on and what details I’d like to have.

So when I got the question from a couple of my CPs again this round, for Secrets, I decided it might be easier for both sides if I provided a list of questions for them to answer instead. Below is what I sent them. Because I’m fairly confident in my grammar and writing style, I wanted to focus more on the content of the story. I have a lot of what-needs-work questions, but also a few what’s-good questions to boost my confidence. :) I also added the note that "No/There weren’t any" is a perfectly acceptable answer to any question. ;)

Feel free to use this list or modify it for your own purposes, passing on to your own readers or using to guide your own critiques. Your mileage may vary, of course. :)

1.    What did you think the strongest aspect of the story was?
2.    What did you feel was the weakest?
3.    What or who did you find most interesting and wish there was more of?
4.    Was there anything/one you felt was unoriginal or overdone (stereotype/trope)?
5.    Were there any points where you felt the story took a strange or jarring left turn?
6.    Was there any worldbuilding or events that left you feeling confused or you felt needed more explanation?
7.    Were there any scenes that felt dull or plodding (or pointless) compared to the rest?
8.    Were there any scenes/sections where you thought the writing could use improvement? Did you notice any writing tics?
9.    Who was your favourite character?
10.    Were there any characters you felt needed more development/depth?
11.    Were the main character’s reactions to events or discoveries appropriate and/or relatable?
12.    Were the motivations behind each character’s actions clear and understandable (even if you couldn’t personally sympathize)?
13.    Were there any points where you felt like hitting a character over the head with a wiffle bat?
14.    Did the climax and ending provide a satisfying closure to the story arc (taking into account the story is designed to have a sequel)?
15.    As you closed the book/file what was your immediate take-away impression of the story?


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