The number one rule when writing fiction is that most of the writing happens in the rewrite. Once you’ve typed out that monstrous first draft, you’re going to want a fresh set of eyes (or several fresh sets of eyes) to look over your work and give you feedback. After all, you can’t fix something if you don’t know what’s wrong with it and this applies whether you’re writing novels or screenplays.
One way to go about it is to hire a freelance editor but they can cost you a pretty penny — upwards of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars depending on the length of your stories and the depth of feedback you want. Most of us can’t afford that. The other option is to utilize the free critique websites that are out there. I think that’s the way to go and here are some websites I recommend if you plan on going this route.
Way back in the day when I first began my fiction writing journey, Critique Circle was the first place recommended to me. As its name suggests, it’s a community-driven critique website where users can post various chunks of their writing (whether those chunks are a few paragraphs, full scenes, or entire chapters) and other users on the site will critique them.
Critique Circle works because it operates on a currency system: in order to post a piece for critique, you must pay 3 credits. You earn credits by critiquing the works of others. Each critique earns you 1 credit. As you can see, since every writer must maintain a minimum ratio of 3 critiques for every posted critique the website remains self-sustaining and persistently active.
In order to maximize visibility for each user’s work, only a certain number of writing pieces are up for critique every week. These critiques are divided by genre. When you submit a critique request, your work is added to the queue and at the end of every week the system rotates out a new set of works ready to be critiqued.
Scribophile is similar to Critique Circle except it has a more modern, socially-networked feel to it. The website runs on a currency called karma points. These points are gained by critiquing other users’ works and you can spend karma points to post your own works for feedback. Karma points are also used around the community for minor things, making it a more versatile system than Critique Circle.
Let’s get back to the point about Scribophile being a social network. The system inherently supports user-led writing groups which can be either private or public. These groups are a great way to network with other writers and build personal relationships — a useful tool when looking for high-quality beta readers and critics. Writing can be a lonely pursuit, but Scribophile makes it easy to find and befriend like-minded writers.
Scribophile has both free and premium accounts. Free accounts are limited to 2 posted works at any given time, limited to 10 private messages and bulletins, and require an extra karma point to join in on contests. Premium accounts can post unlimited works, unlimited private messages and bulletins, receive more in-depth critiques, gain access to privacy controls to limit visibility of your works, detailed reader statistics, and no ads. Premium costs $9 USD per month or $65 USD per year.
FictionPress is the sister website to the behemoth FanFiction.Net. Whereas FFN is home to millions of fanfiction stories, FictionPress is the place to go for original fiction. Both websites run on a system that began way back in 1998, so you won’t find cutting edge features here.
Fictional works can be posted in any of 21 categories ranging from Action, to Fantasy, to Manga, to Romance, to Young Adult. Due to the old website architecture, navigation and usage can be a bit difficult to get used to. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, you may want to look elsewhere. However, in terms of sheer exposure, FictionPress has one of the largest – if not the largest – audience for free fiction feedback.
Note that new accounts cannot post material for 48 hours after account creation.
The other websites on this list are actual automated websites. My Writers Circle breaks away from that trend — it’s a forum. There’s one section in particular, called Review My Work, where you can post samples of your writing for other users to critique. This place is much more lenient than the other sites on this list, but given the right circumstances you can reap tons of awesome feedback.
The best part about My Writers Circle is that their forums are extremely active. If you want more than just critiques (e.g., to relax and chat with other writers), these forums are the place to be. With thousands of active members, the discussions will never end.
Which site you end up using will depend on what kind of critique system you desire. For a self-regulating system, you’ll want either Critique Circle or Scribophile - choose the latter if you also want social networking features. For a broad audience, choose FictionPress. For a wide forum community, choose My Writers Circle.
Haven’t written any fiction yet? Use these creative writing prompts and Android writing apps to break through writer’s block. For those of you who have fiction written, where do you go for feedback? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments!
Image Credits: Manuscript Via MorgueFile