The Mythmaker’s Guild Critique Guidelines

Guild members have the ability to gain doubloons (arrr!) and receive critiques in exchange. When you have enough doubloons, you can post your story and other writers can critique it. 

How Doubloons Work

Participating in a Flash Fiction Challenge (which are posted on the first Monday of each month) gains you 10 doubloons.

  • Critiquing someone else’s work gains you 10 doubloon / 1000 words.
  • Posting a story costs you 10 doubloons / 1000 words. 

You CANNOT post until you have racked up enough doubloons. So, if your story is 5000 words, you need 50 doubloons to post it. If your story is 500 words, it still costs 10 doubloon to post it. 

Your story will be available for critique for 30 days. You can expect 2-4 critiques.

How to Request a Critique

Post your story in the Mythmaker’s Guild by linking to a Google Doc (don’t paste the text into the group message). Let guild members know you are asking for a critique and if you would like them to focus on anything in particular (plot, characters, structure, style, etc.). If you do not want critiquers focusing on grammar, specify that as well. If this is a first draft, you may want a purely content-focused critique.

Please note that these critiques are public (to other members of the group. No one outside the group will see them). This is so other members can learn from your story too. Members agree not to share your work anywhere else.

How to Give a Critique

Critiques are best structured by giving positive feedback as well as advice for improvement. Read Kyla Neufeld’s blog post “How to Give Helpful Story Critiques” for tips on how to do this.

Jot down your reactions to the story as you read it. Were you bored anywhere? Did you like or dislike the characters? Did the plot move too fast or too slow? These things can be helpful for the writer to know.

Critiques need to be constructive. A critique that consists of “this sucks” and “I hated this” is unhelpful. Also, even if you think something sucked about it or you hated an element of the story, there are better ways to phrase it. Try something like, “I couldn’t identify with this character” or “I was confused during this section.” Then, ask yourself why and suggest a solution if you can think of one. For example, “I couldn’t identify with the protagonist because I never know what she’s thinking or why she makes the decisions she does. What if we get into her thoughts more?”

Pick at least five of the following issues to address in your critique (the writer may request you cover specific ones):

Plot – Did the events of the story keep you interested? Did the protagonist react to events in believable ways? Did they have difficult decisions to make because of the story’s events?

Characterization – Characters should be consistent. They should have strong motivations and desires. 

Setting – Is this the best, most interesting location for the story to take place? 

Structure – Does every scene advance the plot? Does action rise and fall? Are there hook questions being asked?

Pacing – Did the story feel too fast? Too slow? How did the pace feel? Relaxed? Hectic?

Conflict – Is there tension and conflict occurring in the scenes? This could be inner or outer conflict.

Theme – Does this story have an overall message or purpose? Is it heavy-handed or just right?

Point-of-View – Was this story written in first, second, or third person? Was the perspective limited or omniscient? Would it have worked better written from a different point-of-view or even a different character’s perspective?

Tone/Voice – How did the writing make you feel? Was it humourous? Witty? Dark? Did it work for the story?

Dialogue – Did the dialogue move the plot along? Was it filled with tension?

Worldbuilding – Was the worldbuilding consistent? Were there too many details that were unnecessary? Did the magic / science make sense? Was it gripping and original?

Grammar / Technical errors – Respect the writer if they’ve requested you avoid these.

How to Receive a Critique

First, remind yourself that, as much as you’d like to have nothing but praise appear in reply to your request, you WILL get suggestions for improvement. You are posting your story to make it better, not just to get a pat on the back.

You will often receive conflicting advice from different critiquers. Remember, their word is not law. Critiquers in this guild are at a variety of writing levels, from novice to expert. This is your story. Take the advice you think works best for you (or don’t take it at all and go in a different direction). But do consider what they’ve said, their reactions to your piece, and how you might improve your writing.

Read the advice critiquers give you, then step back and think about it before making any replies. Take an hour or even a day to mull the suggestions over, then come back with any questions if you want clarification or further advice on a point. Do not argue with the critiquer if you disagree with them. You are free to take their advice or leave it; arguing with them serves no purpose. Thank them for the time they’ve put in to reading and considering your story!

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