How to be a Great Wattpad Critic (In 5 Easy Steps) 

For this weeks post I’ll be focusing on something that has been a big part of my Wattpad journey: critiques. They’ve helped me not only teach others, but gain friends, followers, and feedback for myself. While it is tons of fun, being a Wattpad critic isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here are 5 steps to get your critic journey going, and going well.

1. Advertise! 

Wattpaders won’t know you’re a critic if you aren’t advertising! Head straight to the designated help thread and post an advertisement. Here’s mine, made from a simple photo editing app. Picture advertisements will help you stand out in a long thread. 


2. Ditch the Complicated Sign Ups

I’ve mentioned in past posts about how much I hate special forms when seeking help from other Wattpadders. Forget forms, special passwords, etc when having others request your service. Keep is short and sweet. Explain what you’re willing to help with and your payment. Don’t ask for story descriptions, titles, or say, “what you’re looking for help with” etc, either. I’m going to get real here. If you’re a critic, you should be helping with everything, not ignoring some things and pointing out others. 

3. Don’t Sugar Coat, but Don’t be Mean Either

ALWAYS be polite and honest when performing a critique. Even if the book is literally the worst thing you’ve ever seen and every sentence makes you want to rip your eyes out, don’t resort to saying things like, “this sucks.” But don’t only point out the positives either. Our job as critics is to help others improve their work. Even seasoned writers feel hurt when getting negative feedback. It’s part of the writing process. 

4. Always Re-Read Your Feedback

Having a sophisticated, grammatically correct feedback post or comment will not only improve your reputation with the author, but can even attract others to seek your feedback after seeing your post in the comments section. Always re-read your feedback before posting to make sure there are no errors, and to see that you’ve said everything you meant to. 

5. Respect the Author’s Feelings

Many times, authors will be very unhappy with even the slightest amount of negative feedback. They may say things like, “Thanks, but I disagree.” Or “Thanks for your feedback, but I’m not changing that.” And you know what, that’s OKAY. Never feel like you wasted your time doing a critique for someone who doesn’t want to listen right now. Eventually they may change their minds and fix their work, and your comment will still be there for reference. 

The Seven Deadly Sins of First Chapters

A first chapter can make or break your story. In the publishing world, the opening line of your story could mean the difference between the person judging your story moving on or setting it aside in the rejection pile. After being an online editor and critic for nearly five years, I’ve seen my fair share of bad story openings and have compiled this list of openings so terrible that they’re practically sins. 

1. The Alarm Clock

I’ve seen many stories starting of with things like “the alarm clock started ringing” or even “BEEP! BEEP!” The first line of your story should be exciting and drawing the reader in. Instead of the noise of an alarm clock, start off with your character being late for something important. It’s still extremely cliche, but at least a little more exciting. 

2. The Fashion Show

Most of the time after said alarm clock goes off, I see teenage characters getting ready for school. The authors tend to get a little carried away, describing the character in full, including each individual element of their wardrobe, including jewelry, makeup, and even nail polish. Remember, first chapters need to hook the reader. I’m sorry, but as nice as your character’s outfit is, it’s just not that interesting, and as a matter of fact, neither is the whole school thing, which brings me to my next point:

3. School Time!

I’ve seen way too many normal characters heading to normal high school on a normal day, which makes for a very uninteresting first chapter. Of course, there’s a lot of exceptions, like being a new student or having something exciting happen at said school. 

4. Being Different and Letting Everyone Know

As writers, all our characters are special in their own way. Every main character has something we love about them that sets them apart from everyone else in the story. That’s why we chose them to be the star. Every main character in every story is different from the rest of the population in that story in some way. Never start off with your main character explaining how “different” they are. Stay focused on action and leave all those explanations where they belong, in chapter two. 

5. Breakfast

I’ve had to critique and edit stories where all of the above happened except for the character actually getting to school. Unless your character’s breakfast is crazy or something really important happens during it, the best thing to do is just save those sit-down meals for a later time. 

6. The Big Backstory

A lot of things need to be explained in stories, including a character’s background. However, every detail of your character’s life doesn’t need to be said in a first chapter. Again, save all the mundane details for the second chapter. 

7. Super Exciting Letdowns

Imagine reading a great first chapter. It’s interesting, exciting, and you can’t wait to see what happens next. You’re reaching the last few lines of the chapter, ready to turn the page to chapter two, and suddenly the character has just woken up, about to get ready for school. A word of advice: readers do not like being disappointed! 

Fellow authors, I guarantee if you stay away from these writing sins, your first chapters will benefit! 

Yes, You CAN Get a Writing Job!

Hello all! For this week’s post I’ll be discussing something myself and probably many other writers have dealt with: getting a job/being told you couldn’t get a job. 

Numerous times I had other students and professors say, “A writing major? What are you going to do with that?” I had people tell me I wouldn’t get a job and that I was even living in a “pipe dream” for thinking I could get my foot in the door anywhere but the big city. 

Earlier this week I was offered a job, ten miles from my home here in Upstate New York, with a local company. Seven months after graduating college, I found a job in my field. 

Anyway, here’s a few tips on how to keep your head up in the job market: 

1. Don’t Completely Give Up

I’ll admit, I was on the brink of hopelessness after not finding anything even close to what I wanted to do a few weeks after graduating. I took breaks from job searching weeks at a time, but checked back every so often for new openings. 

2. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

Even if you don’t feel like you meet the qualifications, apply! You never know what could happen. If the job is based on writing skills, just do your best! 

3. Focus On Yourself

A lot of us follow what our friends are doing on social media and can compare ourselves, especially if friends find a job in their field before us. Just remember, that’s their life! You’ll find success soon enough. 

5 Tips for More Interesting Characters

Are you characters boring? Are critics telling you that they’re flat and have no personality? I ran into this exact situation a few weeks ago. Follow these simple steps for more colorful, interesting characters. 

1: Give Them A Habit

What does your character do every day? Do they check their social media? Read the paper? Walk the dog? By knowing their habits, readers can better know your character. 

2. Give Them A Hobby

Hobbies are a key personality trait of your characters. Just like every person alive, give your character a favorite past time. 

3. Include Some Insecurities

Overly confident characters are such a bore! Whether it be height, weight, or trying to impress everyone, make sure your characters have something that holds them back. 

4. Loners Are Not For Long Stories

For a few page story, a loner character may work great. But for something longer than a few pages, it’s not the best idea. Always have someone else for your character to talk to every once in a while. Dialogue is key to their personality. 

5. Give Them A Quirk 

Is your character overly apologetic? Self-centered? A downer? Or maybe they’re careless? Always make sure your character has some type of quirk to liven them up. 

Things to Remember Around the Competition

I started worrying last night. Today is the first day of my very long anticipated Fiction II class. The intro class really kicked my butt so I’m pretty nervous about how tough the higher level will be.

Of course, when you’re in a writing class, everyone is always whispering about who the “best writers” of the class are. Everyone is going to be looking over your work. One bad paragraph could ruin your reputation, so it’s easy to start stressing about everyone else. Here’s a few tips on how to stay cool when you’re around another group of writers.

1. Remember that no one else is perfect: 

It’s true though! Every writer has their flaws, and everyone will mess up at some point. Let’s be real, we go through TONS of ideas before we finally have a winner.

2. Don’t let titles or fancy awards get to you: 

I’ve had classes with award winning writers, people that are top editors for the school paper, and people with tons of publications. It can feel really intimidating at some points, or even all time. (Mostly all the time for me). Just remember that you’re all in the class to learn and improve your skills.

3. Everyone has different strengths: 

I get worried in fiction classes because I’m stronger in nonfiction. Everyone has areas of writing that they’re better at than others, and that’s totally okay!

4. Be yourself! 

While it may be intimidating to be around a bunch of competition, just remember to relax and be friendly. Having a good relationship with the class will make being there that much easier.

Four tips, because I just can’t think of a fifth one for some reason. Enjoy the rest of your week everyone.

What Every Writer Wants in the New Year

Authors always set goals for themselves. But with the New Year fast aproaching, everyone is thinking of those nasty little resolutions that we never follow through on. Or maybe we don’t have any yet. Whether you can relate or just don’t have anything planned, these 5 resolutions will resignate with any writer. 

1. To Finish The Unfinished  

Maybe you never wrote the ending to your novel or decided to take an extended break in the middle. Maybe you gave up due to numerous plot holes. We all have that unfinished thing in the back of our minds, yearning to one day be complete. 

2. Fame and Fortune

Maybe this will be the year when that publishing deal finally goes through. 

3. To Create Something New

Write down that poem you’ve always thought of! Start that new novel that you’ve been dreaming about! Just do it! 

4. To Feel Connected

Try out that new social media outlet. Join that local writing group or book club, or even start your own! Having other writers like yourself is a great motivator! 

5. Feeling Like You’re Going Somewhere

We all have different dreams and desires. We all want to feel like we’re getting closer to those dreams. So go ahead, take that next step. Write a query letter or put your book on Amazon. 

Authors Need Love Too

Since I’ve been home for winter break, I’ve had some time to reflect. Last night, I suddenly started thinking about my future…I have no idea what’s going to happen. There is never certainty as a writing major. 

Anyway, I realized that being an author, like many other things, requires a support system. When I was in high school and all my friends wanted to read my works, I felt like I was on top of the world, and I wrote nearly every day, finishing books left and right. 

Now, after not having a publication in over a year and begging for beta readers, I rarely write anything that’s not for class anymore. 

The thing I realized about authors is that our career really depends on other people. A teacher, for example, needs a class. But students will always be around. An author needs beta readers, then for a publisher to like your idea, and then the public needs to love it as well. An unmotivated teacher can still show up to work. An unmotivated author can’t write. 

So this holiday season, I’d advise everyone to show some love for the writers in your life. Stop by their Wattpad account and read something, or ask them about that poem they scribbled in their notebook. Tell them you can’t wait for their next book. Chances are, they’ll appreciate it.