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14 October 2016

Asking People To Critique Your Writing | Critique Circle











Do you remember that scary button I pressed a few weeks ago asking complete strangers to critique a short story I wrote?

There are a number of online critique groups such as Critters Workshop and Writing.Com. The one I tried out was Critique Circle. I broke out into a cold sweat when I pressed the submit button, but it turns out the experience wasn't that scary after all.

Critique Circle operates on a credit system. For every critique you do of other people's stories, you earn credits. If you want to submit one of your own stories for critique, you have to pay a certain amount of credits. Your story is live in the critique queue for a week. After that it's archived where people can continue to critique it for a reduced amount of credits.

As a new member, you can jump the waiting line and submit your story directly into the newbie queue. However, you can only get a maximum of five critiques. People that post in other queues get an unlimited number of critiques. To be honest, five critiques sounded like plenty to me. Although, for a while, I wasn't sure if five people were actually going to critique my story. Turns out everyone else is pressure prompted like me and did their critiques at the last minute.

The critiques I received were extremely helpful and supportive with lots of useful feedback from catching typos, pointing out my overuse of adverbs, highlighting areas that were confusing, making suggestions about modifying or removing scenes, bolstering my confidence by telling me the premise of my story was intriguing etc. I suspect folks probably go easier on new members.

The system is really user friendly from posting your story to reviewing your critiques. I was able to print all of my critiques together, inline with the text, so that I could compare what different people picked up on in different parts of my story.

After making a number of changes based upon the feedback of these kind strangers, I then decided to press yet another scary button and send my short story to some wonderful bloggy friends who offered to act as beta readers. (Beta readers are essentially non-professionals who "test drive" your manuscript.)

Perhaps I'll do another post at some point on the beta reader process and the guidelines I put together. If that would be of interest to folks, let me know in the comments. In the meantime, let me do a shout-out to those lovely ladies - Liesbet from Roaming About, Melissa from Little Cunning Plan and Lucy from The Larks of Independence. Thank you so much - your feedback was so helpful!

Now the big question is do I push an even scarier button and submit my story to the Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology contest once I've revised it yet again?

Have you ever entered a contest? Did you win anything? If so, what was it?

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14 comments:

  1. I was thrilled to help out! And of course you should enter it... you never know what doors will open.

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    1. Thanks so much for your help!! I really appreciated it :-)

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  2. I guess my question is how do you find all of these sites? You're a wealth of information and my guess is this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    Cheers,
    Stephanie @ SV CAMBRIA

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    1. I've seen reference to these critique groups on some of the writing sites I check out and others have suggested them to me as well. I have no original information :-)

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  3. Writing is a four letter word....Work. I don't want to work anymore.

    I've entered and won quite a few things over the years. Books, games, all kinds of neat stuff.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. It's fun to win things, especially when it's completely unexpected. Glad you've won a few things over the years.

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  4. I've finally made it all the way from 2013, every post, congrats on a great blog and I look forward to following you more. Actually I've been encouraging my wife to follow you too as we move forward downsizing and moving onto a boat,it took 47 years but we're finally there

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    1. Wow! I can't believe you've read the whole blog. I don't even think my mom has done that :-)

      Thanks so much for following along! If your wife has any questions, I'm happy to help out. Feel free to contact us via email at thecynicalsailor (at) gmail (dot) com

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  5. You are so welcome, Ellen. What number draft are you on? It is, indeed, so much work to write and I have so much respect for your resilience and talent. Of course, you have to submit the short story to the IWSG contest! Fingers crossed, once you are happy with the end result and send it in!

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    1. I'm currently on draft #5. I couldn't have done it without your help!

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  6. That's wonderful news about the helpful critiques! It takes courage to put your work out there, but it gets easier over time. Yes, I've won a few writing contests. I won some critiques from agents and a top editor. Very valuable! Good luck with your betas and subbing to IWSG!

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    1. It was a great process. I'm glad I did it. Good on you for winning writing contests - maybe one day that will be me too :-)

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  7. Years ago I entered some writing competitions--usually the reward was being published in an anthology. I gave it up because I found I was writing to their preferences, not my own.

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    1. I can see how that would be problematic to write for contest preferences instead of your own. Luckily the story I might submit is one that I had been working on before the contest was announced.

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