I'm working on critiques for the Master's program. I am always at a loss as to what to do when someone clearly has a fun writer's voice and understands grammar and point of view, but the scene has no story purpose. One has two characters meeting- only one is a main character and the secondary character while interesting may or may not be important to the story- 16 pages. (Nothing new re: the mystery is discovered.) Another story is a funny snark day in the life of the heroine-first chapter-12 pages-that has no story question and she meets no one new-the plot does not begin. Sigh.
So, I talk about scene purpose; goal, motivation and conflict; along with starting with a hook or action. But I worry that they will look at me blankly not understanding or will argue that I'm wrong. Which I could be. After all published books don't always follow "rules."
I tell myself, all I can do is tell them what I think, what my experience is and then wish them luck. I hate critiques. 5 down--3 more to go.