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About the critique

Updated: Jun 11, 2021

What can you expect if you win the competition?

Writing, like any art form, is highly subjective. Steven and our beta readers can’t guarantee anything resembling ‘objectivity’, but we can at least be clear and precise with our feedback.

Therefore, the 1-2 page critique will contain:


Each beta reader will give the manuscript a rating of one to five stars and adding a few sentences of comments to clarify the rating.

  • Grammar and syntax: This category only covers the nuts and bolts of spelling, grammar and syntax, not the flourishes. We won’t be overly critical about every little comma as we understand it’s still a work in progress.

  • Writing style: Here come the flourishes! This category covers the overall writing style: the word choice, the flow, the je ne sais quoi of literature.

  • Voice: Does the POV voice have adequate personality and a flair for storytelling? The more unique and captivating, the higher the ranking.

  • Characters: Are the characters unique, fully fleshed out, and realistic?

  • Dialogue: Does it feel like real people are speaking? Is it pithy, funny, or insightful? Or do conversations seem like they drag on?

  • Story structure: The twists, turns, and plot structure will be assessed. We want to be surprised and intrigued, and woe is the writer who leaves us with plot holes or gaps.

  • Pacing: Does the story sweep us along briskly but with time to take in the views? Or does it feel like a slog through the muddy banks? Or does it throw us down the thrashing whitewater of the river?

  • Marketability: Does this book seem like it could compete in the current market? Is there a niche audience for this book? Is the market for similar books too saturated?


In your submission package, we provide space to ask your beta reader three to five specific questions. The beta reader will respond to your questions here.


The final section of the critique is where the beta reader will provide advice for improving your manuscript. Some beta readers will have more to say than others.

Of course, you are under no obligation to take the advice! Take what you think is useful and ditch the rest!


Also, don’t forget to join our mailing list so you never miss any of the games or competitions! We also share resources for writers. It's much more reliable than getting updated on Twitter, and we also have special mailing list-only content!

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