Last September I joined Scribophile, an online writing community that specializes in peer review and critique. So here it is, almost a year later, and I thought I’d do a little update to the Scribophile review I posted then.
At the moment, I’ve got the first twelve scenes of my current project up on Scrib, with a total of 63 critiques over the lot of them. This is not counting the crits I received on a scene I ended up trashing altogether (and a big thank you to everyone who helped me make that leap!).
Since I joined Scrib…
I’ve made a few great friends and done some off-site critting and outline-rehashing, and general writer shop talk through email. I’ve read (and hopefully helped via critique) some fabulous novels that I will absolutely be adding to my library once they are inevitably published. And I’ve found one poet whose work I will follow for the rest of his career (that’s you, James Hutchings).
Has my writing changed?
Hell yes, it has. More importantly, I feel like my understanding of storytelling as a medium has been vastly broadened. Two critiques in particular were responsible for some major ‘Aha!’ moments that radically changed the way I looked at my current project, and the way I’ll look at all the ones that follow.
Thoughts on Critique
Ask anyone–having your work critiqued is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not ready to swallow your pride and allow others to go through your work with a fine-toothed comb, you may want to hold off on posting any work. The occasional offensive/unhelpful/unintelligible critique will probably come along–critiquing in a helpful way is a learned skill, and not every person who critiques your work is going to have those skills. Among all the critiques I’ve received on Scrib, however, only a handful didn’t help me improve my work in some degree. That’s a pretty good ratio.
A lot can be learned not only from having your work critiqued, but by critiquing the work of others. Trying to identify what’s not working in someone else’s writing can help you identify what’s not working in your own. Seeing the evolution of another writer’s work from rough to polished can help you apply the same things in your writing. So even if you’re not quite ready to throw your work out there, Scribophile definitely has something to offer.
So, how about those forums?
I’m just as enthusiastic about the critiquing process on Scrib as I was when I joined. However, I am still lukewarm about the forums. The ‘refreshing lack of ego’ I noted in the critiquing process does not always extend to the forums. While the moderators are diligent in eliminating any actual ‘trolling’, there is ignorance, arrogance, and general impoliteness in all corners of the web, and the Scribophile forums are no exception. I’ve had a number of truly delightful, enlightening discussions (on writing and non-writing topics alike) on the Scrib forums. However, I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from the forums is that writers like to argue, and simply because someone has a talent with words doesn’t mean they’ll always use their powers for good.
Would I change anything about Scribophile?
The site functions quite well, the user interface is smooth and intuitive. There are a few ‘perk’ features I’d love to see: better forum search capability, an expanded scratchpad, maybe a journaling/writing log functionality? I also wish that the writing circle/group functionality was more utilized, but I’m not sure how they could be better integrated. As a whole, I’m pretty satisfied with the site and the way it’s managed.
As an overall experience…
My time at Scribophile has been very positive, and I’ll be a member for a long time coming.
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