I recently joined a site for writers and readers called CritiqueCircle . It helps to get writers stories reviewed by other writers and readers. It works on a payment scale of critiques instead of $. As you critique other stories, you get credits; as you submit stories, you pay with these credits. There are tools, tutorials, forums, links and all sorts of extra goodies to help a hobbyist transition into a professional. These types of sites are not new, but as I am now seriously interested in making a go of it as a writer, I only just became introduced.
I joined about a week ago and started critiquing right away so that I could gain enough credits to submit a story. I was a bit intimidated to critique as I really have no formal training in writing, so I only criticized what I felt I could add value to. I found the exercise very enlightening. It’s not easy picking apart a story with the knowledge that this is going to happen to mine when its my turn. However, this is exactly what I needed. I learned a lot just from the process of critiquing another persons work. Because I am new to the process, my comments were geared around what I felt comfortable with so it was the easy stuff, like spelling, some grammar (I am by no means an expert as you may have guessed already), I discussed cohesion a bit, a comment about scenes and the pace. It was exhilarating and educational.
Once I had enough crit credits, I submitted my “first draft” of a partial chapter from an idea I have been toying with, Jackson. I was excited and a bit apprehensive. I feel like I have some skill, albeit unrefined, but I felt like I was putting it out there in front of real writers, not just some social website, or here on my blog where no one comes (Oops, sorry. Thanks for coming!). The members of this site are very serious about writing, critiquing and fostering a great environment for learning. I have seen some critiques or comments from some of the writers where no holds were barred (still constructive, but a bit scary), while 99% are constructive, caring and down right polite.
Regardless, I was finally putting myself out there with actual writers who, hopefully, were going to tell me like it is. I was terrified and incredibly excited. My wife was thrilled for me as she saw a dramatic change in my level of determination. I was counting down the days before my submission would enter the critiquing queue. Then I was counting down the hours. I was obsessing, right?
Finally, my time came. Bamm! My submission entered the queue with about 20 other stories. I could see the submissions start getting critiques and the trepidation was maddening. It was not until the next day I got my first crit, Thanks babe! LOL. Then another and another. Each crit so far has been… exhilarating. The amount of effort from the critters was as much as I put into the story. Their insight was invaluable and I have already started my second revision with many of their suggestions. Lots of syntax stuff around dialogue (always knew I needed work on this), some on semantics, a POV switch and other little details. Overall the critiques have been positive and it appears that I may have something here.
I have five crit credits so I need one more to submit another section of my story. Now that my first submission has been critiqued and I have been reading and critiquing others and have learned so much, I need to do some serious rewrites.
So… off to it!
Receiving those first crits on a story is always exciting and scary, isn’t it.
And people often don’t understand that where much of the learning can take place is in critiquing other people’s work, so it’s great to hear someone with that experience/attitude. I wouldn’t be too afraid of getting more in depth on people’s work, though. Just approach it (and let them know you are) from a perspective of ‘this is what I would do if this were my piece.’ I’ve found this is the best way to learn for yourself, without being too prescriptive and without losing sight of your own goals and voice as a writer. Treat everything as if it was yours and you were in charge of improving it on your own terms, and you’ll learn a lot, and the person’s work being critiqued will as well.
Good luck writing 🙂
You are so refreshing, or at least your attitude is. I’ve been busy trying to complete an online anatomy course so my presence at the circle has been hit and miss of late.
If Jackson is still available, I’ll take a peek. I’m more of an editor, but I do find consistency problems and such.
Welcome, you newbie you!