I recently took the plunge and joined an online writing site. I am delighted I did so. One of the many good things about Scribophile.com is it will not let you submit a piece for appraisal and review until you build up a body of critiques yourself on the site. The vibe they promote is one of constructive, balanced criticism, that serves to encourage and foster improvement. And it has really worked for me.
Each critique you do earns you “Karma Points”, which you have to “pay” to submit your own piece. Typically, you pay 5 Karma points for a critique. There is large selection of works to choose from, under categories ranging from science fiction, romance, fantasy and erotic to young adult, thriller, short stories and poetry .
It is advised that you limit your piece to 3,000 words (or submit in tranches) and it is placed in a queue, headed toward the “spotlight”, as it’s called. Once a work receives a certain number of critiques, usually between 3 and 6, it moves out of the spotlight, allowing other works to move up. There are less Karma points going for reviewing works not in a spotlight, but that is the price you will pay for choosing stuff that interests you rather than trying to earn those 5 points quickly.
Typically, it takes three critiques to get enough Karma to submit, although your Karma total rises with the detail you put into your critique.
I joined on the basic “free” package, and has limited me to only having two pieces available at any one time for critique. If I pay a Premium rate, there will be all sorts of benefits and bonuses. Thus far I have avoided all that. It is inconvenient, but I don’t want to pay unless I have to.
My favourite thing, so far, in Scribophile is what they call the “inline critique”.
On Scribophile, you can critique a work in different ways: short or a longer; free-form comment, by topic (plot, POV, setting, characterisation, etc); you can rate the work on sliding scales; then there is the inline critique.
This is the one I prefer myself, both for critiquing and being critiqued. Here, you can highlight text, suggest deletions/changes and insert comments which highlight to green to differentiate them from the author’s text. This is easy to follow.
I have learned so much from the critiques I have received so far. In each case, my rewrites took in the really useful comments made, and I was obviously free to discard that which did not resonate with me.
There are also specialist writing group one can join on the site. Some look interesting and I might do so soon.