Where to Get a Writing Critique
From time to time, I receive emails from writers, asking me to critique attached poems or short stories.
In the early days, I would send a polite reply, explaining that I hadn’t time to critique their work. Now I simply delete the email and attachments and get back to my own writing. The DWT Contact page states the policy that our writers don’t answer questions via email.
Critiquing a manuscript of any length is time-consuming. Time is the most precious possession of a working writer. Asking another writer, especially one with whom you have no personal acquaintance, for a free critique is the equivalent of asking a stranger for a gift costing anywhere from $300 up. I have arrived at this figure by browsing the sites of professional critiquing services.
Rates are based on word-count, number of pages, or some combination of the two.
One service that specializes in science fiction, fantasy, and horror charges $300 for the first 20,000 words and $15 per every 1,000 words thereafter.
Another service offers a flat rate of $260 for the first 50 pages, but applies a per-page rate thereafter. A manuscript of 100-199 pages is priced at $6 per page; from 100-199 pages, $4 per page. A manuscript of 200 pages is priced at $3.75 per page.
Paid critiquing is neither a practical nor sensible solution for the beginning writer. Such services are for writers who have already done everything they can to improve their drafts with whatever help is available to them without an outlay of cash.
On the other hand, writers need the feedback of other writers. What’s the solution? Where can beginners find suitable readers for their early drafts without an outlay of cash?
First, they must be willing to critique the work of others in exchange for critiques of their own writing.
Ideally, they will find another writer or writers in their own vicinity. For example, I belong to a writer’s critique group whose members live within a radius of about thirty miles. We meet weekly, varying the meeting place so that no one has to drive the farthest distance every week.
Not every group is a good fit for every writer. In approaching an established group, writers need to evaluate the writing level and interests of the members. Some groups specialize in different genres. Not every group critiques poetry or illustrated children’s books. Not every group is made up of beginners. A group of published writers may not be the best choice for an unpublished writer who is still struggling with basics.
A good place to find kindred writing spirits is your local public library. Browse the bulletin board. Ask the reference librarians if they know of authors in the area.
Writers who can’t find other writers locally can look for critique partners on the Web. Here is a starter list of five sites that offer help in finding a partner:
An email critique and fellowship group for Christian writers.
Ladies Who Critique
Ladies Who Critique is a critique partner-matching site for writers of all levels – “published, unpublished, aspiring, hobbyists, even closet writers or complete newbies!”
This free writing forum offers a thread devoted to connecting with a critique partner.
This site boasts 23,000 members “of all skill levels” and is described as “a non-stop online poetry workshop for beginners and experts alike.” Participants must agree to offer at least three critiques of others’ work for each poem submitted.
This site is for writers of “science fiction, fantasy and alternative writing and artwork.” It offers the opportunity of publication. Membership is free, but participants must complete three critiques of the work of others before receiving permission to submit.
This free site is for writers of all skill levels. Members exchange detailed critiques. Reciprocity is a must.