As a beginning author (Amazon says I am, so I must be) I wonder if what I’m writing is really any good. I wrote for a year or so before I began submitting to magazines and such. Every now and then I’d get an acceptance, which triggered a little happy dance and a Sally Fields “You really like me” moment. But mostly rejections. The rejections are always nicely worded, saying something along the lines of “not for us, but we’re sure it’ll find a home somewhere.” But I was left wondering WHY is it not for you? What did I do wrong? Very rarely, the submission site would offer feedback for a price. Maybe I should be willing to pay $35 to find out why they don’t like my work, but I’m cheap.
I came upon the idea of writing groups. Checking around the internet I found several options. The first one I tried out was called Scribophile. It was free to join (always a plus) and easy to navigate (an even bigger plus). You had to critique other people’s stories to earn points. The overarching rule was to be nice and critique constructively. Then you could use the points to post your story for critiquing. I didn’t know much about critiquing; I mean that was why I was there, to be critiqued. But I read what other people were saying and figured it out. I know my way around the English language pretty well and after a while I got the hang of it. I even earned bonus points for being a good critter (a critter is one who critiques) and even picked up some followers. I met some nice people and we conversed outside the site, helping each other. It was a good experience and I’m convinced my writing improved.
I tried a couple of other critiquing sites just to see what was out there. I went to Critique Circle and one other place which will not be named – ever again. The CC was much like Scribophile, except the interface was a bit clunkier. I didn’t use it often.
The Other Place, though, wow. I posted a story and within a couple of days got a critique. It was a page long screed about what an awful writer I was. Not only did he hate the story, but he looked me up on Google and found other writing and dissed that, too. I looked at the rules of the site, and there was a brief mention to be polite. This guy was having none of it. So I read his tirade all the way to the end. That’s when I found out what was going on. I was an awful writer, but for a certain amount of money, I could take his course and he would teach me to write. I have to say that was probably the worst advertisement in the history of mankind. I wanted to report him to the master of the website, but couldn’t find a way. Apparently it was a free for all. So I deleted the story from their site and left.
And the awful story he panned? Little Green Men came out Friday as a stand-alone booklet. So not everyone thinks it’s trash. It can be purchased on Amazon. And to the asshole who panned it – well I don’t think WordPress supports the type of language I want to use.
2 thoughts on “Critiquing”
I enjoy getting your stories.Im also a terrible critic of fiction especially that of friends. Since I am an artist/illustrator for the most part and what writing I’ve done is technical I feel fairly incompetent…but keep sending me your stuff please!