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critique: line by line, or general?

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Tue Sep 04, 2007 4:16 pm
something euclidean says...

(Since critiquing comes in many styles, and beginners might get confused as to their particular uses and strengths.)

The best critiques deal with a little bit of both, and for the experienced critiquer it really depends on personal style and how they feel like doing things. However, there are certain instances which demand a line crit and others in which it's inappropriate.

When to do a line-by-line style critique:
-- in prose, if there are more than a few passages that you want to comment on, fix errors, or rewrite. This can be a good lesson for people who's sentence structure is a little bit funky or a story where style and usage is very important and needs to be commented as such

-- in essays, going by paragraph or sentence to point out arguments and counterarguments.

-- in poetry, when there are small details to comment on. Might go by line or just by stanza/reasonable chunk and interpret. These sorts of peicemeal interpretations are useful for extended or very detailed works. The same goes for general critiquing.

When not to do a line critique:

-- when, in any format, the writer is so novice and the piece so full of errors that pointing out every singe one of them would lead to unhappiness and many wasted red pens. In this situation, it's better to just write a few paragraphs about what generally needs to improve and how the writer can make that general improvement.

-- work with very few errors; if you can't find more than five in prose/a very long poem, then there's no point in quoting the whole thing to point those out. Quote the relevant pieces and then sum them up and say generally what was good about the piece at the end; interpretations, and general opinions are also extremely helpful. Nothing is more frustrating than to see your entire story quoted and think that you got this great line-by-line critique, only to find that it's mostly your work taking up the space, while the critiquer gets away with doing a minimal amount of work.

good line crit 1 [poetry]
good line crit 2 [prose]

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Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:00 pm
Cade says...

Oooh, good article, euclidean. What I've started doing is categorizing the parts of my critique--Imagery, Meaning, Diction, etc.

I also find it helpful to go line-by-line or stanza-by-stanza when it's a rhyming poem that needs a close look at the rhythm and meter.
"My pet, I've been to the devil, and he's a very dull fellow. I won't go there again, even for you..."

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Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:57 pm
Leja says...

Nice article, B! This was what I struggled most with when first joined yws.

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Tue Sep 04, 2007 11:57 pm
AWritersFantasy says...

Ha, cool! The prose critique you linked to was done by one of my Livejournal friends!

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Tue Dec 14, 2010 2:14 pm
seeminglymeaningless says...

When not to do a line critique:

-- when, in any format, the writer is so novice and the piece so full of errors that pointing out every singe one of them would lead to unhappiness and many wasted red pens.

When not to do a line critique: when the author has written an article about line critiquing :P Personally I only use the colour red when the mistake is inexcusable :P Or if the error has been repeated so many times it becomes frustrating. Green is such a more calming colour to use.

Very helpful article :)

- Jai
I have an approximate knowledge of many things.

For in everything it is no easy task to find the middle ... anyone can get angry—that is easy—or give or spend money; but to do this to the right person, to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way, that is not for everyone, nor is it easy; wherefore goodness is both rare and laudable and noble.
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