The Beauty of the Online Critique

When some people think of getting their writing critiqued, the image of a group of like-minded people sitting in a circle and reading their work of fiction aloud tends to come to mind. In this day and age, where everything we do is based around social media and the internet, the idea of in person writer’s groups is starting to fade. They aren’t dying completely. There is still the option of in person critiquing or workshop groups, but there are a few downsides to that. Maybe you have to work or don’t have time to attend a meeting? Maybe the group decides to meet somewhere far and you can’t commute? Maybe the group is only into a certain genre?2016-02-15 10.52.58 (1)

That’s where online critiquing comes in handy. Online critiquing is a form of writing workshop that allows you upload your work onto a website and get feedback from other writers and editors.  I was introduced to online critiquing about four years ago by a fiction editor. After I had given her my manuscript to read, she suggested that I upload a few chapters to a critiquing site to see what readers would perceive about my plot, characters, and over all story arc.

It’s been a huge help. I uploaded a chapter one night after work and the next morning I had two critiques. They pointed out the confusing parts, the moments where the characters needed a bit more development, and their overall impression of my story. All of this, and I didn’t even have to leave home! With work, school, and other activities, time for meeting with a writers group isn’t always available. So whether its four in the afternoon or four in the morning you have the option to log on, post a chapter or two, log off, and come back at your convenience to check for a critique. Here are a few reasons why I think you should consider giving it a try.

  1. You can share any genre of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. Some writer’s groups tend to limit themselves based on the people that are in them. This meaning that if most of the people in the workshop are critiquing each other’s fiction you probably won’t get much help with that poetry piece you’ve been working on. However, some critiquing sites don’t discriminate against any type of writing. Whatever you’re working on, from screen plays to non-fiction pieces, there’s someone in that genre on the site willing to be helpful and give you their best advice.
  2. Free perks along with your critiques. Aside from the fact that sites like this are completely free, you will be able to gain access to tons of advice on writing and publishing from experts. There are forums with discussions that can spark motivation and allow you to improve your writing and critiquing skills. Some sites also offer writing contests to its members.
  3. You don’t have to use your real name. When I first started out posting work on critiquing sites, I shied away from using my real name. For me, I was just starting out and didn’t like the idea of strangers reading my work. If I received an extra picky critique, like the lady who refused to read any more of my novel chapters until I put the whole thing in present tense, I didn’t connect the writing with myself but rather my pseudonym. You also have the option of controlling who sees your writing. If you like the feedback you get from certain users, you have the option to limit the viewing of your piece so that only those people will be able to read and critique it.
  4. Variety is the spice of life. As a writer, sharing your work is important. It not only helps you improve your writing skills but gives you a better idea of who your target audience really is. Online you don’t have to limit your critiques to the people in your workshop class or the members of your writers group. On any critiquing site there are probably thousands (maybe more) people uploading, reading, critiquing, and blogging everyday stretching from Canada all the way to UK.

I’ve tried out many critiquing sites, but I chose to share my top three favorites with you. These sites are free and offer lots of helpful advice whether you’re just starting to write or you’ve been writing for years.

  1. I’ve been using this site for nearly three years now. The entire idea of this site is based off of karma points. Meaning, in order to post your work, you have to critique the work of others. The site gives you different type of critiquing forms, inline or filling out a questionnaire. The amount of karma points you get is based off of how long your critique is. This ensures that the writer gets the most out of each critique. The site also offers a premium option that you can pay for which gives you more perks.
  2. works similarly to Scribophile in the ways of uploading your story. Instead of karma points, however, you get three credits when you first sign up. It takes 3 credits to upload a piece, and you receive one credit for every critique given. Therefore, you have to critique three times to upload another piece. Your critiques must be 150 words long. One of the many awesome perks of this site is that you get the option to write for their blog!
  3. This site works a lot differently than the first two. They used to only be a workshop for Sci-fi, horror, and fantasy writers but have since then expanded their site to accept all genres and forms of art. What you have to do is email a chapter of your novel or short story, it will be placed in queue with other writer’s work and once it gets to the top of the queue it will be posted on the site for others to critique it. Critiques have to be reasonably lengthy, and you can receive up to 20 of them at one time.

These aren’t the only sites out there. You have to get out, explore, and research which one sounds best to you. Critiquing sites offer tons of perks and each site is tailored with the author in mind. You don’t have to be an expert at writing or critiquing. These sites are helpful ways to get your writing out there, develop your skills, and help others like you do the same. Being a writer is sort of a lonely occupation, but that doesn’t mean you’re alone. We want to hear what you have to say, offer you reassurance, and show that we have your back.

-Sharnita Sanders

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