A plot critique might not be the most obvious pick among the critique services for writers that are out there. However, it can give you a great insight into your story’s strengths and weaknesses before you even begin writing. This makes it very valuable.
Still, not every writer is created equal, and a plot critique might not be the right fit for you. So, below you can find what a plot critique entails, when you should get one (and when not), and how to determine which editor is right for you.
How do you critique a plot?
Before we dive into when you should get a plot critique, let’s see how you actually critique a plot. After all, we all have different ways of working, and our plots can be very different as a result.
So, for me, a plot consists of two things: a synopsis detailing the main storyline (usually around 2000 words) and a scene list for as far as you’ve plotted them. This means that a scene within a scene list could be a summary of a few sentences; for instance, on Harry’s birthday, a giant called Hagrid breaks into their cabin and tells Harry the truth about his parents and that he’s a wizard who can go to Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry). But it can also be something a bit more vague, such as: Harry finds out he’s a wizard. You don’t need to have all the details of every scene worked out yet, as long as the main storyline is clear.
The main thing that will be critiqued in a plot is this global plot line: what are the strengths & weaknesses of the structure, does it progress the stakes enough, and does it follow the conventions & expectations of the chosen genre?
Depending on the amount of detail in a plot, you can also receive feedback on the character’s arc and the subplots: how do these things progress the stakes? Do they fit well with the main storyline?
In a sense, a plot critique truly looks at the bones of your story and gives you not just suggestions to improve it, but also on how and what to add to it. It will give you a much clearer comprehension of your story, and it should give you the confidence you need to start writing it.
When should you get a plot critique?
Now that you’ve gained some understanding of what a plot critique is and how it’s done, we’ll look at some reasons for getting a plot critique. That way, you’ll know whether it’s the right option for you.
1. If you want to know if your plot is strong enough
If you’ve been plotting for some time but aren’t sure whether your plot is hitting the right marks, a plot critique could be right for you. A good plot has progressive stakes and a solid structure, where the subplots and the character arc support the main storyline.
Knowing whether your plot is strong enough or whether it still has some weaknesses can be valuable for writing your first draft. Understanding how to improve your plot can help you beyond your first draft as well.
2. If you want a clear idea of how to revise your plot
Sometimes you’ve written a plot, and you know something’s missing or something’s not quite right. But you just can’t figure it out. A plot critique will help you gain a deeper understanding of your plot and what you can do to revise it to make it stronger. The suggestions on what types of events you can add or change to improve your story will give you the proper knowledge and tools to make your story as strong as possible.
In addition, a plot critique can also help after a first draft. You can take your first draft and create a synopsis and scene list from there. Rather than going through a much more expensive developmental edit, you can get a first idea of whether your story’s structure is good. It won’t give you the same amount of detail as a developmental edit, but it may be all you need to continue writing your second draft.
3. If you’re unsure about your knowledge of plot and structure
To plot a good story, you need to have some understanding of story structure. There are many books on the topic, and it’s a good idea to read some of them to increase your knowledge. Or perhaps even take a course on the subject.
In the meantime, a plot critique can help you understand the structure of your story better. You’ll know what you’ll need to work on, where the weaknesses are, and what you can do to improve the plot. This critique service for writers will increase your knowledge of story structure as well.
4. If you would feel more confident in your story with a professional critique
We all struggle with low self-confidence and feel incompetent sometimes. (I know I do.) This isn’t because you’re not good enough, this isn’t because you’re not capable, but writing is a subjective thing and an evergrowing process. As a result, acquiring new knowledge and skills just never quite stops. Hence, you might feel insecure about your skills from time to time.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting a little bit more reassurance. So, if you know you’ll feel more comfortable during your writing process if you had a professional plot critique, then go for it. There’s nothing nicer than feeling more confident about your writing and your abilities.
How do you find the right editor for your plot critique?
Think you want a plot critique? Great! But how do you know which editor to pick?
1. Check whether they have a plot critique service
First of all, they need to have a plot critique listed in their critique services for writers. That feels like a bit of a no-brainer, but I figured I’d put it in here nonetheless. Not every editor offers this type of service. So, check their services before you inquire.
2. Ensure they have experience in your genre
Every editor has their own expertise—they can’t all be good in every genre. So, read carefully if they’ve put their expertise in their bio or in the description of their services. If you can’t find it, look at which authors and books they’ve previously worked with. Otherwise, you can always send them an email and ask whether they have the expertise you need.
In my case, I specialize in fantasy, sci-fi, thriller, crime, horror, and romance. For nonfiction, I specialize in self-help, academic (psychology or pedagogy), and spirituality. These are genres I know intimately, and I know that I can help authors within these genres with confidence.
3. Read through the description and make sure it matches your expectation
Does the plot critique provide what you expect of it? Is there something more that you want, but aren’t sure whether the editor provides it? You can always ask them if it would be part of their plot critique.
Of course, what an editor can include will also depend on how detailed your plot is. The more details it has, the easier it is to understand where the story is going. For instance, if the character’s journey is very clear within the plot, it’s easier to give feedback on the character’s arc and how it fits within the main plot.
4. Read testimonials and inquire with past customers
Reading past experiences is always a good idea. What did they like about working with this editor? Does it sound like something you would value as well? If you want to have more information, you can always look up some of the authors who left a testimonial and inquire about their experience more thoroughly.
Want me to help you with your plot?
As you probably have guessed, I also provide plot critiques. If you’d like to work with me, you can check out the service page here for the price, and what I expect you to deliver.