A Critique of Critique?

What’s the best thing you’ve done to further your writing career?

That’s a question that I hear a lot. And my answer is always the same:

I joined a critique site.

After I finished the first draft of Cellars, I began hunting around for information on what to do next. Somehow, after searching through a multitude of writing websites, I found Scribophile.

Scribphile is an amazing website – populated by a community of writers, at different levels in their careers. With the promise of earning ‘karma’, Scribophile encourages active critiquing and guarantees that your work will be exposed to real readers before being released in the world.

Without Scrib (that’s what we Scribbers call it), I would never have learnt about the evil scourge that is the adverb, the importance of scene and sequel structure and I would never have begun my recovery from the affliction of repeated words.

I also would never have had the confidence to even consider self-marketing (look at me, writing a blog post!) or approaching publications or agents.

Furthermore I wouldn’t have met some wonderful, life-changing people that have helped mould my writing and set me straight on a path to the accolade of ‘writer’.

However, critique websites should be approached with caution. Not all contributors are ‘qualified’ to critique and I have seen some responses that are just plain rude. And pretty soul-destroying.

In addition, it’s important to realise that the people responding are not editors, or agents. They are just people, probably no different from the writer who posted the work. Therefore, their word is not gospel.

Listening to the words of critters (another Scrib term) has led me to remove parts of my story that I loved. Others have told me how Scrib has torn stories up to make them almost unrecognisable. Writers are forced to take part in a balancing act – being true to your brain-child and keeping readers happy.

But fear not. With regular critique and discussion with other writers, what emerges is the skill of self-editing and self-awareness. A confidence emerges that makes it easier to know when to listen to feedback and make necessary chance and when to believe in your story.

As a result, I have found that I’m beginning to rely on Scrib less and less. But I know it’s there, if I have a question or need support and advice. And that’s incredible in such a solitary pursuit.

So what’s the best thing you can do to further your writing career? Join a critique site.

And Scribophile is the best one.


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1 Response to A Critique of Critique?

  1. calliehunter says:

    One other trouble with Scrib is that people often push their own style onto your writing, and strip away what makes it yours. It has its advantages but it is also crippling as people read one chapter, rather than every chapter. Still you are correct, a critique site is helpful – but people who /read/ and write, and provide useful feedback are far more important the people who think their way is better than others.

    You’re amazing though, so amazing. Scrib isn’t so important because you’ve got the talent and skills and now you know your problem areas, write them on a sticky note and when you read your work back, highlight them different colour. You’ve got the talent, so don’t let rude people on scrib tell you otherwise.

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