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Oct 1, 2019

World Building 101 for Fantasy Authors

By Bethany Tucker.

World building can be a lot of fun. It’s the sandbox and Legos of writing. Creating landscapes, dreaming up cities or towers. For me, and I hope for you, it’s a chance to play, daydream, and indulge. Imagine an invitation to revel in the vastness of imagination. Dream up the grand, the funny, the poignant and the momentous. Don’t forget the details – small imperfections, the minor annoyances, the hilarious, and the somber. Bring the science. Forge new religions. Riff off the old mythologies. This is what makes fantasy, as a genre, so complex, diverse, and endlessly readable. And so wonderfully satisfying!

Sep 13, 2019

Author Interview Series: Daria White

This week we have the pleasure to speak with Daria White, a prolific writer of novels, novellas, short stories, poems and the author of the prominent “Writer in the making” podcast. She shares insights on her creative process and latest projects.

CritiqueMatch: Besides creating a helpful podcast, you write novels, novellas, short stories, and even poems! Can you tell us more about your creative process? When do you decide whether a story is well suited as a novella vs. a short story?

Sep 4, 2019

Author Interview Series: Max Vonne

We are excited to interview Max Vonne, one of the earliest adopters of CritiqueMatch! Max is working on a soon-to-be published sci fi series and has stayed busy on multiple projects, from creating a software program to generate planets and stars for a fictional galaxy, to building a directory of resources for writers. Let’s see what he told us when he found time to sit down with Mike this week.

CritiqueMatch: Where did you get the idea to write the Star Faer series?

Aug 12, 2019

Author Interview Series: D. A. Bartley

This week we chatted with mystery author D. A. Bartley about her new book, her latest projects and even got some tips on how to develop characters.

CritiqueMatch: What motivated you to choose mystery as your genre?

D. A. Barley: I don’t think I chose it as much as it chose me. The classic murder mystery is my happy place; it always has been. My grandmother gave me my first Agatha Christie when I was about ten, and I’ve been reading murder mysteries ever since.

CritiqueMatch: The second book in the Abish Taylor series, Death in the Covenant, will be released on August 13, 2019. What should we know about your exciting new mystery novel?

Aug 9, 2019

Boosting Authenticity Through Real-World Setting

By Alicia McLachlan.

Establishing a strong sense of place can be a valuable secret weapon when immersing readers into a story. I’ve even seen this particular craft listed as a major draw on some agents’ wish lists.

It’s why fantasy writers spend so much time world-building, often including maps and extensive prologues to help readers orient themselves in their vast imaginary universes. It can be just as effective in a real-world setting as well.

Aug 6, 2019

Trust Point Of View To Deepen the Reader Experience

By Max Vonne.

Point of view is something to take seriously as a writer.  It’s one of the primary decisions we make when writing a scene or chapter.  Whose point of view are we viewing the action from?

The answer can be a black hole.  The point of view (POV) of no one is actually an option.  That is called omniscient POV.  A detached, all-seeing eye informs us of what we need to know.  We don’t know where it comes from or how it feels about anything.  And because of that, omniscient POV is a thinly disguised data dump.  

Readers hate data dumps.  Information in itself is not interesting; it’s just a bunch of facts.  For example:

Jul 15, 2019

Pulling Off Unlikable Main Characters (Part 2) - Writing Redeemable Villains and other Unlikable Characters

By Lidija Hilje.

In Pulling Off Unlikable Main Characters (Part 1) - Writing Irredeemable Villains, we discussed different types of unlikable characters, and some of the techniques that can be used in writing irredeemable villains.

In this article, we will explore the techniques a writer can use when writing redeemable villains and other unlikable characters, such as oddballs, weirdoes and jerks.

Writing unlikable but redeemable characters is not any easier than pulling off irredeemable psycho-villains, but there are more tactics available to make sure the reader will keep turning the pages.

Jul 12, 2019

Pulling Off Unlikable Main Characters (Part 1) - Writing Irredeemable Villains

By Lidija Hilje.

There’s a lot of talk about the importance of writing a likable protagonist. As readers, we have to like a character to be willing to devote several hours of our precious time to read their story. We want to feel invested in them and care about their story enough to be tempted to read a three-hundred-page book.

An unlikable main character can kill the book. If we hate the protagonist, we are almost sure to lose interest and put the book down before finishing it. Not to mention not recommending it to other readers.

But what if you want to write a character that isnt necessarily likable? Even more so, a character that is repugnant or revolting? Can it be pulled off, and how?

Jun 17, 2019

Wringing out that Soggy Middle: What to do when Act II Falls Apart

By Bethany Tucker.

Stuck in the middle of your draft? Already written to the end but that section between the beginning and the end feels stale, limp, or messy? Beta readers giving up in the middle? You might have a case of what’s called a “soggy middle.”

Soggy middles are Act II problems where the tension is low, the plot meanders, or the reader, and maybe the writer has trouble staying with the story. Symptoms are lack of interest, passive shrugging, and dusty pages.

However, the solution is simple. Want the secret? Fall in love.

Jun 12, 2019

Death by Character Questionnaire?

By Kyrstin Oke.

Quick! Take our character questionnaire to discover everything about your character today! It’s as simple as answering 100 questions that will only take around 20 minutes to 2 hours to complete, (depending upon your decisiveness), and you’ll know everything you’ll ever need to about your character and writing will be so much easier! Remember, if you don’t know a character’s favourite sandwich, favourite colour, their shoe size or social security number, you don’t know the character at all!
Perhaps I’m just a cynic, but I abhor character questionnaires with every fibre of my being.
Always have, probably always will.

May 31, 2019

How Death and The Dervish, by Mesa Selimovic, helped me fix my plot holes

By Dalia Lepa.

            “That was how he took revenge on the world, by not showing his bitterness.”

Oh, you lover of books. You live in an era where the modern day attention span is about five minutes.
Do you remember Mesa Selimovic? Probably not—well he wrote a critically acclaimed novel circa 1966 called, Death and the Dervish. Sure, it was written in the “stone-age”, in a different time, for a different audience. Along comes me, present day impatient Dalia, who can literally summarize the whole plot in about 3 sentences. Don’t believe me? Let me try.

May 29, 2019

Tips and Tricks to Create Suspense Inspired by ‘Where the Forest Meets the Stars’ by Glendy Vanderah

By Lidija Hilje.

Novels are basically all about Q and A; the author poses questions and, with some delay, answers them. In that period of delay lies suspense—a feeling of anticipation, apprehension and anxiety the reader experiences while waiting for the questions to be answered.

The success of a book depends on this feeling; it’s what makes the reader turn the pages. So its always good to explore new ways of drawing more suspense out of your writing.

May 15, 2019

Sharpen Your Main Character by Using Books on Writing

By Max Vonne. 

Making sure that readers connect with your main character is a critical point of focus for your writing.  This is an especially tough challenge for new writers.  Thankfully, there are some great tools available to us.  

In my last article, I spoke about, which I’m just going to briefly mention here.  Getting your work in front of others and getting their feedback is key to understanding if your main character is resonating.  Other writers will not only tell you if they like the character but will also make suggestions on how to improve him/her.  I can’t imagine developing my characters without this process.

May 13, 2019

Developing Minor Characters 101: A Neville Longbottom Exposition

By Madison Bringhurst.

Though you could write an entire soliloquy about the amazing character arch Neville Longbottom has, his unfailing ability to try, or how he overcame a tragic beginning, the real genius of Neville Longbottom’s character is in JK Rowling’s ability to use him.
In the fourth book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Neville is shown clumsily falling into the trap of a trick stair after dinner one evening. The scene paints a vibrant image of the quirky nature of JK Rowling’s magical world and pairs it with a light-hearted laugh. Though this great moment in itself would make the scene worth having in the final draft, its implications for later in the book are what make Neville more than just a comic relief character. Later in the book, Harry finds himself trapped by the same stair. Rather than having Harry explain this during a heated moment, thus taking away from the urgency of the scene, Rowling shows the necessary details earlier using one of her favorite expositional devices: Neville Longbottom.

May 8, 2019

Character Stereotypes – How to break them

By Ela Mishne.

The Chosen One, Dumb Blonde, The Wise Old Man, Queen Bee. We’ve all seen these characters. The scientist is always crazy and looks like Albert Einstein. The bully loves being bad because—well, for no particular reason. The problem with these characters is that they make the story predictable and boring. So writers are encouraged to create fresh and unique characters.
But here’s the problem. Readers love familiar characters because they don’t have to get to know these new people. They feel safe. But safe is boring, and readers should never be bored.

Apr 15, 2019

The Critique That Crushed My Fears

By Alicia McLachlan.

Even though I’ve been writing (with varying degrees of commitment) for over fifteen years, I have only recently started to send my pieces out for feedback. For so long, the idea of sharing my writing terrified me; it felt egotistical to think my writing was good enough to put out into the world. On the flip side, I was also halted by the fear that I would find out that I was, in fact, a terrible writer; that I should give up. Because I enjoyed the act of writing in and of itself, I decided doing just that was enough for me.

Apr 10, 2019

My Critique Partner Journey

By Negeen Papehn, author of The Forbidden Love series.

I used to believe that writing was a solitary action, getting lost in the words I typed across a blank screen, just me and my characters in a world of my making. Three published books and four full manuscripts later, I’ve realized it’s anything but singular. Truthfully, it’s a group effort. The story may spill out through my fingertips, but it’s plotted, molded, and fine-tuned, by my amazing critique partners (CPs). There is seldom a page written that someone hasn’t read through and given me feedback on.

Apr 8, 2019

First-Time Critique Partner? Here Are 8 Critique Dos and Don’ts

By Rene Penn.

Is this your first time critiquing someone's work? No worries. You got this.

People with little or no critiquing experience may doubt they're up for the task. The truth is, you don't have to be an expert to critique someone's work.

Think about the last time you were blown away by the first few pages of a book. Or when you noticed that a movie dragged in spots. Or how you were disappointed by a book's ending. All of those times, you were critiquing, even if you didn't realize it.

As a critique partner, you'll learn to recognize moments that give you pause—like dialogue that needs to be trimmed or a character that falls flat.

Apr 5, 2019

Developing Character Empathy – A Darth Vader Example

By Margi Guilfoyle.

“Be Careful Not to Choke on Your Aspirations.” –Darth Vader
If you have not read Michael Hauge’s book, Writing Screenplays That Sell, it is worth your time to do so.  Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi recommend Writing Screenplays That Sell as a resource in their craft book, The Positive Trait Thesaurus. And, for good reason. Hauge’s character development advice is succinct, approachable and proven. All the quoted material in this blog (except for Darth Vader’s words, written by George Lucas), comes from Hauge’s book, Writing Screenplays That Sell.
Now, back to our friend Darth…

Mar 18, 2019

Finding Your Shiny New Critique Partner

By Bethany Tucker.

Congratulations! Working with other writers here at can be intensely rewarding and exciting. It’s a wonderful way to have accountability and to know that you’re not writing into the void. And at it’s best, this is a community where you can see your skills blossom and relationships grow.

So let’s jump in on how to set yourself up for success finding these partners who make the magic happen.

Mar 15, 2019

How critiquing someone’s work helps improve your writing skills

By Brady Hunsaker.

As authors, we’re often told that one of the best ways to improve our writing is to read others’ works. A lot. Reading more allows us to detect patterns in other stories so that we can begin to mimic or avoid some of those same things. In addition to reading, another huge tool that we can use to our advantage is the use of critique partners.
They critique our work, which is always great to have, but we also get the opportunity to critique their work. Sometimes, critiquing someone else’s work feels like the downside to having critique partners, but the truth is, we also gain a lot by being involved in critiquing their work.

Mar 14, 2019

Tips And Tricks In Finding A Critique Partner

By Jane Catherine Rozek.

So you’ve written a few chapters or maybe a whole book, and you are saying to yourself, “this is good stuff,” and then you laugh because, of course, you and your family are biased! 

Where do you find that stranger with the uncompromised eye to tell you exactly what works and what doesn’t? I’m happy to report on On this site, I can exchange critiques and beta reads with total strangers anonymously, and I’m the only one who retains a copy of my manuscript once a critique has been exchanged.

Here are five tips and two tricks I discovered to find awesome CPs – Critique Partners!

Mar 11, 2019

A Harsh Critique: Learning to Survive the Experience and Interpret the Critique

By: Kyrstin Oke.

So, finally after hours of worrying and agonizing over the impending critique, you get it back, and man was it harsh! Something you’ve spent countless hours on, poured your tears, blood, and soul into – and someone has just casually ripped it to shreds. Sure, some part of you knows that your work wasn’t perfect to begin with, but you weren’t expecting it to be this bad.
It feels like someone has just died.
Your pride is cowering in a corner from the world, weeping in shame. Your prostrated ego is dramatically throwing its fists against the ground like a tyrannical child, wailing at the audacity of the person who dared critique you in this manner!

Mar 8, 2019

Critique Partnerships - A Recipe For Success

By: McKay Mertz.

Writing and helping others write can be as rewarding as a chocolate chip cookie. But what are the steps to a successful critique partnership? Similar to baking an excellent cookie, we will use the same basic recipe to create a successful critique partnership. Obviously, everyone has their own tried and true cookie recipes, but here are some suggestions to help you critique others' writing.

Mar 6, 2019

Dos and Don’ts When Critiquing Someone’s Work

By: Andrea Alcolea.

I have been writing since I was thirteen years old. I began writing short stories and monologues for myself, and only shared them once with my middle school English teacher. It was my first experience receiving a critique, and it was a good one. I wish I would have kept her notes. I was only a middle school girl then, I didn’t know the value of what I had. Thankfully, I still remember her words. I like to think it’s what planted the writing seed within me.

Mar 4, 2019

How Feedback from Critique Partners Sharpened My Work

By Max Vonne.

I worked on my first novel for Star Faer for about six months before I finished my first draft.  I realized then that I had a huge problem.  I planned to self-publish through Amazon, but how would I know if my book was well-written?  What if there were a billion typos that I couldn’t catch?  What if there were structural issues?  What if no one liked my characters?

It’s probably better to know this before publishing.  So I started looking around for beta readers and came across, shortly after it launched.  It’s a free platform that lets you connect with other writers, so you can critique and edit each other’s work.  

I joined the site without a lot of expectations.  It was early, and I was one of the first writers on the platform.  I queried a few of the other sci fi writers that were active and found some that were willing to look at my work in exchange for me looking at their work.  The result for me ended up being life-changing.  Sounds dramatic.  It is.