My Evaluation Philosophy

As much as possible, I do not evaluate a manuscript based on my own reading or writing preferences, but on the author’s intent and how well the book adheres to the literary conventions of the genre in which it is written.

I pay close attention to such elements as character development, story arc, climax and resolution, and causality in plot. I also evaluate in terms of the connections the author makes (consciously or subconsciously) between character and setting, cause and effect, scene and summary, and similar relationships. And of course I also evaluate the voice of the writer to determine whether it is as fully developed as it needs to be for the particular story.

Authors who have influenced my critical approach include James Wood, Zadie Smith, Robert McKee, Francine Prose, Gordon Lish, William H. Gass, and many others. But I also have learned much from the great writers and critics of decades past, especially Joyce, Forster, James and Stein.

I advise all clients to evaluate every critique they receive as to whether it offers personal opinion or a concrete discussion of structure and technique. I’ve written many articles on the subjects of criticism and writers’ groups, which can be found on my blog, http://joeponepinto.com. I am always happy to discuss my evaluations further, if the client desires.

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