There are several types of Slushbuster critiques:
Wording. A Slushie (normally Michelle) will point out that I've used a word umpteen times in two paragraphs. Or perhaps I've only used one sort of sentence structure, or have sentences of only one length rather than a mixture of long and short sentences. All the Slushies will point out awkwardly worded parts. If they had to reread a section to figure out its meaning, they let me know. I'll stick grammar and spelling in this part as well. Every critique group needs a grammar
Nazi specialist. Nothing says amateur to an editor or agent like someone who cant put they're sentences together rite.
Practical stuff. Alison and Joan are the queens of finding spacial or physical oddities. For instance, if my character is in the middle of the room in one sentence, she cannot be at a doorway a few sentences later- especially if I didn't mention her walking there. It's so important to have people who can visualize what you're writing and discover inconsistencies. These critiques ensure that the world you've created makes sense.
Characterization. Steph makes a lot of comments about whether a character's actions/emotions are consistent or believable. Everyone points out when a character seems unclear or when a character has become a caricature. Sometimes, I can imagine a character so clearly that I can't separate what's in my mind from what a reader would glean from the text. Yay for Slushies who report what the text communicates!
Structure and pacing. Lisa often helps with the bigger picture. She once pointed out that the character arc I'd created over 6 - 7 chapters just wasn't working. Other Slushies will highlight portions of the story that move too quickly or have become bogged down. Other Slushies (Steph!) might ask if you should change your POV. After you've written the entire MS. (We've discovered that once you recover from your head exploding, the question can be a good one.)
Some of my favorite miscellaneous critiques:
I stopped caring here. Critique members have to read my entire submission, so they do. However, a reader will put the story down when it stops working. So it's really helpful to know when a Slushie became confused, or stopped caring- or just didn't care to begin with. It's not the easiest critique to get, but it's one of the most helpful.
Have you thought about...? This is a hard critique to do well, because it's far too easy to interpose your own vision for the story. In it's best form though, (I'm thinking of Steph, Alison and Bridget) it's a way of prompting the writer to explore new avenues for her story. We've had lots of good conversations spring from this line of questioning.
And finally, the good stuff!
I liked this part. This is hugely helpful, because it lets me know what worked. And if I know what worked, I can do it again. The more specific the praise, the more helpful it is.
I loved it! This one happens rarely, but, boy is it nice when I get it. It's what keeps you writing- to get to that point where the story sings.
You can do this. The truth is, we all need to hear this every time, especially when we're in a slump. If you're in a critique group, you're not coasting through your writing. You need to have others cheering you on through the hard parts.
So there you have it! A not-so-brief guide to Slushie critiques. I'd love to hear what sort of critiques have helped you in the past.
Also, thanks to all of you who read or follow or comment on our blog! You add so much to our writing experience. It's lovely to have you join us on this adventure.
*I should point out that all the Slushies have given each sort of critique. I simply wanted to highlight areas that each member is especially good at.