On Writing

On-line Critiquing Opportunities – Why I Participate

In 2012, I became a subscriber to many wonderful bloggers in the writing world.

From the stunning Authoress at Miss Snark’s First Victim to Adam Heine at Author’s Echo to the wide world of Writer’s Digest. It was my ‘goal’ to find and fall in love with an agent (although I’ve yet to blessed by Cupid in this regard), my research led me to the shark herself, agent Janet Reid as well as agent Rachelle Gardner.

Still others fill my inbox with inspiration, information and guidance – The Bookshelf MuseThe Collaborative Writer, Nathan Bransford, The Pub(lishing) Crawl and K.T. Crowley.

What becoming a part of these on-line sites has taught me is that the on-line community of writers is vast and furious, loving and honest. While each writer, agent or group of writers is unique, they all ‘give’ from the same centre – supporting other writers. It’s like we’re all one, big writing family welcoming, guiding, inspiring and supporting each other.

Specifically, through critiquing.

Here’s why I support this way of critiquing:

1) I am guaranteed new readers who are writers – that care. They put in the time to read my work and offer constructive, honest yet gentle feedback on my work.

2) I don’t know any of these people! And there’s a feathery freedom to this. I’m not gonna bump into commenter ‘Jenny’ in the grocery store and feel like I need to have her explain her comments to me…The conversations we have within each site/blog remain in the site/blog – and grow from there. The thing is, we all agree on the dos and don’ts on online critiquing. So we follow them.

3) The critiques vary in scope and size. Some of the sites offer critiques and finding an agent opportunities on FINISHED manuscripts only while others offer critiques on works-in-progess, query letters, loglines, first pages, first chapters or the first 250 words.

4) You’re guaranteed feedback. If you submit your work and it gets accepted or ‘received’ into the critique, you will absolutely get feedback. There’s a possibility that you will have to critique a certain number of other writer’s submissions, but that’s just common sense – and common courtesy.

Here’s an example of a logline and first 250 word critique I received from Adam Heine at Author’s Echo:

Vanessa’s Critique

I am extremely happy with the feedback – and I can absolutely re-submit based on the comments given.

Here’s another example of a critiquing opportunity from K.T. Crowley:

January ‘Test Run’ First Page Critiques

Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE? Not that paying would necessarily deter me, but like ‘real-life’ critiquing groups, the on-line community has both free and pay versions. So far, all the ones I’ve found are free.

If you’re thinking of sharing your work but are hesitant for any reason, take a look at some of the sites I’ve offered. See if you get that itch of excitement while reading…follow through with it, and see what others have to say about your ideas.

Also, many of these sites offer amazing book giveaways, intriguing interviews with authors, and links to many writing opportunities or lessons.

What websites/blogs do you subscribe to? Why? What’s your favourite writing blog/site?


image: http://annawrites.com/blog/2011/04/06/how-we-write-wednesday-ouch-critique-and-editorial-revisons/

6 thoughts on “On-line Critiquing Opportunities – Why I Participate

  1. Hi Vanessa,

    I can personally see how online critique sites have helped my writing life. I’m not sure I could pinpoint a particular instance where it helped me get something published, but I think there’s been a gradual benefit to that feedback loop.

    I agree with what you say about the upside of receiving feedback from someone who with LESS shared context. The rare and precious friend will give you feedback as good or better than your average response from a critique site. With an emphasis on “rare”.

    I think there are other advantages beyond just the likelyhood that they will be more honest and realistic. Statistically, people outside our inner circles are more likely to differ from us more in geographical, cultural, and intellectual ways. And so, our close friends are less likely to provide us a helpful perspective as to how the broader world will read our work.

    Though I’m not crazy about every aspect of it, I’ve found http://www.thepoetsanctuary.net to be pretty good in terms of a free, somewhat private (not google indexed–only members can view), and beginner-friendly poetry critique site. Everybody participates in the constructive critiques (they maintain a rule that you need to provide 3 critiques for every poem you ask critiques for). It is very beginner friendly and is in a forum format. The quality of feedback varies, but even if you need to take what you get back with a grain of salt (as I’m sure you’d have to do even if the site was filled with experts), it’s incredibly helpful to get such feedback. Even if nothing quantitative comes in terms of revisions, it’s nice to be able to anticipate how some people will read your work.

    Anyways, thanks for the helpful post. Take care!


    1. Thanks for the lengthly response, Mark! I’ll have to check out the poet sanctuary…although, I’ve always been shy of sharing my poetry on-line…is that weird?! I do like the idea of it being a private site though. I suppose no matter what, if we post our work anywhere on-line, there’s always a possibility of someone stealing it…do you every worry about this?


  2. No problem.

    No, it’s totally normal to be bashful about sharing writing in any context! I think it was Jim Morrison who said he wrote lyrics, because he didn’t have guts to read his poetry without some musical instruments to back him up?

    I’m fairly new to this, but here are my thoughts:

    I’m not very concerned about stealing. 1. I tend to only share a very small proportion of my poems, ones which I’m not very confident in anyways, or that I feel I’m agonizing over, or don’t have much potential anyways. 2. The net gain of advice seems to outweigh the slight risk of stealing. 3. My poems are always being modified enough that what people are seeing is just a snapshot of the poem and not necessarily the final version, and, in particular, I don’t necessarily post the last revision based upon the feedback. 4. I figure that, as mad as it might make me, the fact that someone thought my poem was worth ripping off would have somewhat of an element of flattery 🙂

    But you are right, it is something to keep in mind when weighing whether to post or not (the level of trust in the community would be a major thing to weigh).

    Also, I do bear in mind my future plans for the poem and the policies of where I might submit it.


    1. well put. and yes, i suppose that, although the thought may remain in my head for my mind only, i’d be a bit flattered as well. 🙂 but, all-in-all, i ain’t no steala! and i don’t dig it!


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