I Survived My First Round at Critique Circle

I’ve only been on Critique Circle for a few days, so perhaps this assessment is premature.  I really love it because there are many intelligent and talented authors on the site.  One of the unique things about this site is that you can’t view any critiques for a story until you give one.  This prevents previous reviewers from influencing subsequent ones. Believe it or not, that can make a huge difference.  Also, when I hear the same comment more than once, I know that it’s likely a problem because these reviewers are reading my story without a bias.   I think that was part of the problem on the other literary critique site. . .  In the beginning several different people commented on my stories.  But then this guy came in on every one of my stories and told me I was doing everything wrong.  I think people were scared to comment after him.

At Critique Circle you start as a newbie.  Your story spends one week in the story queue or gets pulled off after 6 reviews (review max only has a limit in the Newbie queue), whichever comes first.  My flash fiction piece about the mother donating her son’s heart got 7 critiques in less than 24 hours XD  A huge part of that is because of the credit system.  You need credits to post a story, and the only way to get them is through critiquing other stories.  You get 1 credit for any story between 300-3000 words.  My story was around 500 words, so that’s part of the reason so many people critiqued it.  If you post something longer, like 5,000 words, you won’t get as many reviews.  That doesn’t mean the story is bad.  It’s just easier to critique a shorter one.

As far as the critique goes, it was very good.  None of them were negative.  They were honest, but not demeaning or mean.  Nobody told me I was a horrible writer or that I should read a book on how to write fiction.  I wouldn’t go there if you are self-conscious though because it can be hard to take.  I mean they rip your story apart, but that’s why you’re there XD  If I didn’t want to publish my stories I think I wouldn’t do it, but since I do, I’m grateful for the help.  I had a problem with fanfiction that if I was honest people would explode.  I’d say 10% of the reviews I gave had someone exploding on me, even though I tried my best to give sugar-coated concrit, so I eventually stopped reviewing.  I certainly wasn’t trying to hurt anyone.  Many people ask for concrit, but they don’t really want it.  On Critique Circle they do XD  Everyone is nice and most people thank you for it. I thanked all seven people that reviewed my story as well. I think constructive criticism is not about what you say but about how you say it.

I mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again.  This site is password protected meaning you can’t see the stories unless you have a user ID and password.  So it prevents the internet from caching your story.  It’s not considered the same thing as online publishing, at least that was my understanding.  Again, here’s the link: http://www.critiquecircle.com/

In other news, I think I have convinced two of my friends to write original fiction with me XD  They were both previously fanfiction writers, but want to try something new 🙂

Does anyone else have a favorite critique site?  I tried two, and this is my favorite so far!

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25 thoughts on “I Survived My First Round at Critique Circle

  1. Sounds like much better and more constructive than before! I’m glad you are having a good experience with them 🙂 I have not tried, but I like the setup as you’ve described it here. Definitely worth checking out. Thanks!

    • Yes, I really like it so far 🙂 It’s pretty awesome as far as literary critique sites go. It’s crucial to get feedback on anything I write. They helped me a lot and brought up things I hadn’t really thought of. I would definitely recommend it ^^

  2. I really like Critique Circle. I’m a member there, too. I have a story I need to get up there, so I have to do some critiquing to get my 3 points. It is very useful, and different kinds of people critique differently. Some go into detail with grammar while others comment on style and flow much more.

    • Ooooh, awesome 😀 Yeah, the critiques were very insightful at pointing out the flaws in my story. I’d rather hear it now, and give my story the chance to be the best it can be before submission to literary magazines. If I can get my computer running I have another short story to post 🙂

      • Hope your computer’s running okay.

        I like critique corner’s way of displaying critiques. It’s easy to see what everyone things of each line. Very useful.

      • Thanks 🙂 The moment of truth comes in 20 hours XD Most articles said to let it dry a minimum of 48 hours. It barely got wet, but I don’t want to risk it :$

        Yes, it’s cool that there are several different ways to critique on that site. And it helps me reading other people’s critiques on stories about what works and what doesn’t. I’d say I struggle a lot with the story component of writing so I’m always trying to improve 🙂 I definitely need advice on my stories, so this is a good way to do it in the future without online publishing.

      • I sometimes read critiques of others’ stories, as well. It does help. The last time I received critiques, it helped me a lot. I have a lot to improve.

      • Yeah, they brought up some really good points. I had two people tell me that there was essentially no plot to my flash fiction story, and they were right XD I guess that sounds a bit odd, but I didn’t even realize it until they mentioned it :$ Someone else pointed out that my last paragraph was essentially stating what was already implied so it felt redundant, and I think that is a good point. So I’m going to cut a bit of it, and then write the second part of it which does have a plot. I’ve read your writing. You definitely have a lot of talent 🙂 I think it doesn’t matter how good you are though, you can always improve ^^ What I really love about critique circle is that you can’t read the critiques until you’ve already written one. I was on another critique site and this guy really didn’t like my writing. He rewrote my intro, and I really didn’t like it. We were never going to see eye to eye on writing. But I think he influenced another person, so they were always getting on my case about how I was doing everything wrong. They were nice about it, but he told me to go read a book on writing because I didn’t understand how it works. Okay. . . XD

      • I think I have a lot to improve, actually. I keep finding new things to improve every time I receive critiques. That’s one thing I like about Critique Circle, I always learn something new.

        I can’t imagine having someone try to rewrite something for you. That just seems a bit arrogant. Critiques aren’t rewrites, they’re supposed to be advice.

  3. “People who ask for critiques but don’t really want them” – Those are the people who ask merely to hear how wonderful their writing is. 😉 As for the exploding, I had to learn how to keep my mouth shut when someone told me something negative. I don’t mean they were mean or insensitive, they just didn’t praise my writing. It was difficult at first and I literally had to bite my tongue (sometimes till it hurt) and grip the sides of my seat or grip my hands together or even dig my nails into my skin to keep from defending my writing. That was about 10 years ago or so and I don’t have to go to those extreme measures anymore. 😉 It’s a good lesson for everyone to learn though. If you feel like you have to defend your writing then most likely you’re not doing something right. Not all the time though. Sometimes the reader’s just stupid. 😉 lol j/k

    • You make some good points 🙂 I’ve been on both sides. I wouldn’t say I exploded on anyone though. I was a bit defensive in the beginning, but there are some people that just go off like explosives using their extensive knowledge of curse words on me. I had one lady contact her ex-husband (that she hated with a passion) to discuss how wrong I was XD She had Zack making out with comatose Cloud and fantasizing about sex. I told her it came off as creepy rather than sweet. I never said it was a fact, that was just MY OPINION. But that was enough for her to go off like dynamite. The rest of the review was praise too. That’s what I like about Critique Circle. Everyone is honest and expects the same in return. They have several moderators to make sure flames aren’t allowed. I really try to be somewhat nice when I give concrit because I’m a writer too and know how difficult it can be. Writers put so much of themselves in their pieces, so I think that may be why concrit can feel almost like a personal insult, especially if you aren’t used to it.

  4. I’m happy you’re liking Critique Circle. A couple years ago, some writers told me to try out the site, but I chickened out, sticking with critique partners I already knew. Maybe I should check it out since it’s password protected. A writer can never have too many opinions with how their story is!

    I used to be on the site, Ladies Who Critique. This was back in 2011. I haven’t been back since but nothing was wrong with it. I had just found local writers and decided hearing feedback in person was better for me than doing it all online.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

  5. Hi! I want to say thank you for introducing me to Critique Circle. I have joined and did my first critique, and submitted my first story. I think it’s an amazing concept, and am in your debt!

    • Glad I could help 🙂 I think it’s one of the better literary critique sites out there ^^ I was really impressed with the quality of the critique provided. Since I want to eventually submit my short stories to literary magazines, I want them to be polished. I just submitted another story, and it’s waiting in the queue. My name over there is “Bunny9,” lol.

      • My name there is “Peggyc” and my first story is scheduled for the Aug 6 queue. Would you mind if I looked at your story and had a go at a critique on it? I need the practice, and I think it’s a great way to shake up the way a writer thinks about editing their own work to critique and see how others critique and get critiqued… I am obviously infatuated and redundant!

      • Sure, I would love that 🙂 I’d like to read your story as well. Will probably do so later tonight ^^ The suicide story (the one scheduled for Aug. 6th queue) is a bit different, so it’s okay if you don’t like it. What I have posted is the first half because the second part gets kind of weird. . . That’s all I can say without revealing some of it XD I’ll post the second half next week.

      • I read your initial story last night about the heart transplant. Wow. beautiful. I also looked at the critiques you received and they seemed genuinely helpful!
        Course now I am humbled and my little story seems very pastel in “comparison.”
        I’ve got to get over that, I know. I am here to learn, and my “voice” is not as dynamic as yours. Not at this time, and may never be.
        I have learned from life and experience in the art world, that we each have our own voice, our own audience, and we all start somewhere!
        I am thankful to have discovered your work, and look forward to another great relationship building experience!!! Peggy

      • You’re too kind :$ I’ve been writing on and off for five years now. I started in fanfiction, and just recently made the transition to writing my own original fiction. I actually started out in fanfiction with a novel, and it was 200,000 words when I left. To be honest, I should have started with short stories before tackling a novel because a novel is very difficult to do well. I was pretty bad in the beginning, so the style of the early chapters was much different than the later ones. The pacing was off, and much of it was redundant because I had forgotten the beginning of the story XD It really needed a heavy editing job, but I was just doing it for fun. I actually posted an excerpt of my writing from 5 years ago: https://thepaperbutterfly.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/flashback-sunday/

        It’s been a long process of trying and failing, then analyzing what I could have done better. I’m taking a step back and working on short stories because there are many things I would like to improve before embarking on another novel. It was very tough in the beginning to get concrit. I was lucky to have made friends with some great writers that I trusted to give me constructive criticism. They were honest, but always kind, and because they cared about me I knew they always had my best interest at heart. As writers I think we put so much of ourselves in our writing that it feels like a personal insult if someone doesn’t like our writing. I’ve learned to not take it so personally, but it’s still hard sometimes. I was over at another critique site and someone wrote a 1000 word critique about how my writing was boring, and they told me to pick up a book about how to write. I won’t lie, I didn’t feel happy about it, and I actually disagreed with much of what he said, but it is what it is. He was trying to help me, so I didn’t reply. Part of being a writer is analyzing the concrit you receive because it doesn’t always have merit. You can’t please everyone no matter how good you are. I think when I began I had the goal to become a great writer, but since I’m so self-critical that wasn’t a really healthy way for me to think. Instead I like to think of myself as a work in progress, and my goal is to become the best writer I can be, so the focus is on improvement instead of greatness 🙂

        I think in the beginning most of us start out with a weak voice, but as we improve it becomes stronger. Its not just prose that makes a writer who they are. It’s everything, subject matter, plot, characters, etc. The beautiful thing about writing is that there are so many possibilities. You’ll grow into your own voice, and I’m sure it will be beautiful and unique 🙂 It’s hard not to compare with others, but I try not to do that either because it’s often like comparing apples to oranges, or apples to ice cream XD I love apples, oranges, and ice cream, and they are tasty in their own way.

        Yeah, most of the critiques were spot on, there wasn’t much of a plot to it XD I’m also guilty of a few awkward sentences, lol. I think it will make a good intro though because I’m planning on expanding it 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading your piece tomorrow ^^

      • I believe I just threw away a very long and windy response to your comment, if it shows up, apologies!!! I am going to shorten and rephrase it a bit and try again!
        Your comment is post worthy by itself! I love what you have shared, thank you!
        I did a read through on your “Dandelion” submission, it is a heavy subject. I have to run off to my “day job” in a bit, so won’t get back to a crit of it right away, but do have one started.
        Your setting is the Tacoma/Seattle area, seems we are both NorthWestern’ers! Small world.
        Got your crit on my initial submission, and you are spot on. Too many years of technical, dry writing, with emotions and action purposefully edited out… a new side of me needs to emerge from that chrysalis. Another unexpected part of this writing journey, it encourages introspection. I think the cocoon extends farther into my life than I imagained!
        I am so glad to have made your acquaintance!
        -Peggy

  6. Critique circle sounds very cool. I’ll be sure to check it out, maybe for some short stories. I went to a critique circle at my school, but they weren’t very helpful. They just basically said my short story was pointless and boring, and just criticized it. They didn’t offer any help. Critique circle people sound MUCH nicer!

    • The feedback they offered on my story was very helpful. And you can’t read the critiques for a given story until after you have submitted one, so it removes the bias others may have if they read the reviews. Yeah, they tend to give pretty targeted advice, and so far they have been nice. No one told me my story was horrible, or that I was a bad writer. Actually several people said my prose was lovely with the exception of a few awkward sentences. I always try to point out the good things as well in a story because I think it’s important for writers to know what works as well as what doesn’t. There are many good writers on the site too 🙂

      • I just wanted to let you know that I decided to give critique circle a go. Apparently “sabrinawolfheart” is too long for them, so my username is Sabriwolf. 🙂 I haven’t posted anything yet. Right now, I’m just looking through everything and seeing how it all works.
        By the way, I saw you had a Premium membership now? Did you have to pay the $3 or whatever for it, or how does it work? (I haven’t spent any of my credits yet…) 😛

      • I’ll look you up! Yeah, I did the premium membership so I could post a book. Well I will probably post several of my short stories as novels. You don’t have to. It just makes it much easier for people to go back and read a previous chapter if they are starting to read on the second or third. I don’t know, maybe it’s not necessary. I only bought 6 months XD I’ll look you up ^^

      • Oh, the credits are for posting a story. You can’t buy credits. You only get them by reviewing stories. If you review a story currently in the “Story Queue” that is between 300-2999 words, you get 1 credit. That’s why flash fiction stories are so popular here XD If you review a story currently in the “Story Queue” that is between 3000-4000 words you get 1.5 credits. If you review a story currently in the “Story Queue” that is between 4000-5000 words, you get 2 credits. Your reviews have to be at least 300 words to get the full amount of credits I stated. If you review a story that isn’t in the Story Queue the credits are halved I believe. . . There are lots of different ways to critique a story too 🙂

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