There’s an old saying that you have to give before you receive. This goes doubly so for critiques. I know so many writers who want to get them, but few who want to give them. I’ve read many complaints in critique swap groups that one person gave a very deep, line by line critique to their partner’s work. They also made sure to get it back to them quickly. The other writer never wrote one in return. Sometimes, they didn’t even bother to thank the person who did all the work for them.
I’ve slowed down my pace on my own manuscript so I could dedicate some time to polishing my critique skills. Not only is it a nice thing to do for another writer, it’s a good way to network and be social with other writers. Writers are readers. If you give solid critiques, that writer is more likely to read and review your work in the future. Also, writers tend to be really eccentric and interesting. They make good friends to have around.
If you want to learn how to critique, head over to Scribofile. There are many great resources for writers on the site, but the best one is their vast collection of works collected and waiting for a critique. I’m starting with flash fiction and working my way up.
The site works on a point system. You get “karma” points for writing critiques and you spend them to post works. That means you have to give a few critiques before you can get one back. This is a sweet setup. It’s fair and it gives people strong incentive to give good critiques.
There are ways to get and give out bonus Karma to encourage others to critique your work. New writers have their first critiques “in the Spotlight.” You get more Karma points for critiques of works in the spotlight. You can spend Karma to put your own work in the spotlight as well. I’ve also seen some members host writing contests, giving out Karma as prizes. So there are all sorts of ways to get points and get some critiques for your own work.
The administrators on the site are very nice as well. I took a few days off from posting so I could work on my blog. When I got back, I got two messages from people who work for the site asking me if I was still working on my story. They wanted to make sure I was still up for giving a critique, as I mentioned that I really wanted to write a few in my introduction post. I’ve been posting in forums for over twenty years and I’ve never gotten that much positive attention from admins and mods. I felt like a queen.
I’ll get more into the specifics of critique writing later. I just wanted to get the word out that this is the place to go for all things related to critiques.