Tuesday, January 01, 2008

WIP Diagnostics: Is This Working?

WIP Diagnostics is a weekly column that studies a snippet of a work in progress for specific issues. Readers are encouraged to send in work with questions, and I diagnose it on the site. It’s part critique, part example, and designed to help the submitter as well as anyone else having a similar problem.

These diagnostics are used as a teaching tool to provide examples and advice in actual works in progress. I focus on the question(s) asked, and analyze the submission as it pertains to that question or questions. It's not a traditional critique, it's about answering the writer's question(s) and letting them know if they're doing it right, wrong, and what they can do to improve that technique.

Currently, I alternate critiques with editor Maria D'Marco.

WIP Diagnostics runs on Saturdays.

The rules for submitting are pretty simple:
  1. Be willing to have your work and my comments posted publicly on the site.
  2. Submit 250 words of your work (give or take). A few extra sentences or a paragraph to finish a moment is fine. If you'd like to provide an explanation to understand the scene, that's fine, too, and it doesn't count in the 250 words. A little background information usually helps me with my critique since I know what you're trying to do. Note: Don't cut it down to this size just to fit the word requirements and get to "the good stuff" in 250 words. What you cut, is often what's needed to understand the scene.  
  3. Ask a specific question about writing. For example, if you're not sure if you're showing or telling, or you want to know if you're doing point of view correctly. The question needs to be something that I can diagnose and talk about, so no, "Is this good writing?" type questions please. That's subjective and I can't help others there. However, "Does this opening work?" is fine. "Does this scene work?" is also fine. I can pinpoint why a scene does or doesn't work and offer helpful feedback there.
  4. Say what your market or genre is. What works for YA romance is a bit different than what an adult thriller needs.
  5. E-mail to janice (at) JaniceHardy (dot) com with "WIP Diagnostics" as the subject line. Just paste the submission into the body of the email.

And that's it. Submitters are welcome to revise and resubmit if they'd like, but they don't have to.


If you'd like to revise and resubmit that's okay--but only if the new submission has substantially changed. Here's a great example of a re-submit that made more than just superficial changes, and here's another that revised well. Just let me know it's a revision, and please add the link to the original post so I can find it more easily.

A sampling of WIP Diagnostic articles:

    See all WIP Diagnostics (RLD) articles