Free Scene Critiques

Got a scene that won’t gel no matter what you do—and you don’t know why?

Send it to me. I’ll show you:

  • what works well in your scene,
  • what needs improving, and
  • HOW to make it stronger.

A free critique? Really?

Yes, indeed. As time permits. Here are the guidelines:

  1. Send an inquiry email to coach @ with a short description of the scene and your goal. If I agree to look at your scene, I will ask for the document then.
  2. Send only one scene—and send a complete scene. (Include its sequel: see What is a Sequel?)
  3. Send no more than 13,250 characters, including spaces and punctuation. This is roughly 10 pages of double-spaced text in Courier font at 12 pt type with one-inch margins. If you need more than 10 pages for a scene, either you don’t understand what a scene is (see How to Write a Compelling Scene), or you need to take a chainsaw to your writing and cut, cut, cut.
  4. If the scene is not the beginning of your story, give me a sentence or two about the context. Especially, what is your protagonist’s overall story goal? And how does this scene fit into that goal?
  5. By sending me your scene, you give me permission to publish in my blog both the scene and my comments. (You have the option of staying anonymous or including your name.)
  6. While I specialize in “speculative fiction” (fantasy and science fiction), I also work with action/adventure tales, thrillers and murder mysteries.

Should you send something from the beginning or the middle or the end?

The opening scene has more work to do than scenes in the middle or the end. It must first capture the reader’s attention. Usually, it also introduces the hero and his or her opponent. Some prologues, especially in murder mysteries, focus on an event prior to the protagonist’s appearance.

Scenes from the climax also have more work to do. Generally, the hero needs to have an epiphany in relation to his or her struggle throughout the tale. Epiphanies can be tough to make convincing without sounding melodramatic or falling flat.

Thus, most of the scenes I critique will be from the middle of a story.

What do I publish in my blog?

Sometimes I publish an entire scene with comments, and sometimes excerpts that illustrate a particular point. However, I DO send you my critique of the whole. That’s why I need your email address.

How do I choose which scenes I will critique?

In critiquing an individual scene, I look for problems with raising tension, choosing and keeping a point of view, putting the reader inside the protagonist’s skin, building a believable world, and the like. This helps not just you, but everyone reading my blog who wants to improve their writing.

Will I publish every scene sent to me?

No. I will acknowledge receiving your scene. However, I cannot critique everything sent to me. Also, I cannot reply to everyone who sends me something about why I did or did not choose to critique it.

Got more than one scene you want critiqued?

Learn about my fiction critique & editing services and nonfiction editing services.

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