Be Your Own Critic Without Being Critical

Be your own critic without being critical

Here’s how: First write a single descriptive sentence.

Now look at that sentence not as an author, but as a reader or critic.  You can see what’s there, but what’s not there?

To find out, ask some questions about what hasn’t been conveyed (yet).

For example, I write, “It was dawn in the small western town.”

Then I stand back and ask:

1. What time of year was it?

2. What state?

3. Is it a ghost town?

4. How many people live there?

5. Is everything all right in the town?

6. What year is it?

These are just the questions that come to my mind – things I’d like to know more about.  Your questions would likely be quite different and for the purposes of this example, you may want to jot down a few additional questions of your own.

Next, let your Muse come up with as many answers for each question as possible.


For question 6, What year is it?, my answers might be:

A. 1885

B. Present Day

C. 2050

D. After the apocalypse.

Now go back to answering questions, but this time, ask questions about each of your answers to the original question.


For the original question, What year is it?, one of our answers was D. After the Apocalypse.

So now ask:

1. What kind of apocalypse?

2. How many people died in the Apocalypse?

3. How long ago was the disaster, and so on.

Now let’s expand on this technique.  Suppose you write a one-sentence description of your story.  Then, by alternating between critical analysis and creative Musings, you will quickly work out details about your story’s world, who’s in it, what happens to them and what it all means.

But you can also use this technique at any point in the story development process.  Pick any sentence from one that describes your plot to one that speaks to an attribute of one of your characters.  Apply the technique and you will expand that area of your story quickly and easily into some fascinating new material.

In the end, you may very well turn out to be your own best critic.

Melanie Anne Phillips
Creator, StoryWeaver

This article is drawn from StoryWeaver