Alright. Back to some serious blogging. Here comes a long post.
I thought I’d try the site out by using a short story as my test.
The short story is one I plan to submit to my university’s writing contest, so I thought I’d try and use some extra help. I got 2nd place last year, so I wonder if seeking help and advice with my story this time would help get 1st (or at least in the top 3–I’m not going to get too greedy).
Here’s how my experience with Scribophile is going so far.
It’s a nice site filled with writers of varying experiences. The writers and critiquers (people who gave me critiques; I can’t think of a better word to call them) that I’ve interacted with gave detailed and encouraging critiques that I’ve found useful.
Here are some of the key points of my experience I wish to share about the site. I have nothing bad to say of Scribophile members. So far, I’ve interacted with courteous people.
There is a lot more to the site than what will be in this post. I’ll only share my experiences with some specific things.
Your Posted Work
It has to be less than 3,000 words. The site goes into specifics here, but 3,000 is mostly it. That means having to break up works if, say, a chapter is longer than that. I’ve seen things like This is the Title, Yo – Chapter 4 Part 2. It’s not so terrible.
When you post the work, you’ll still fill out forms like the title, length, genre and maturity-level and all that. It’s pretty straightforward.
The Spotlight System
When someone posts a work, they can go into Spotlights: New Member Spotlight, Main Spotlight, Good Critiquer Spotlight. Works here can be critiqued for 1 full Karma point. The Writing tab (seen in the Featured Image) shows all the Spotlights.
Posting your first work automatically puts you in the New Member Spotlight. Once you’ve received 3 long critiques, your work is no longer in a Spotlight and continues on through the life cycle on Scribophile. It can still be looked at, and at certain times critiqued, but the critiquer won’t get full points–only about a small percentage.
There’s a bit of a rush for critiquers to get to the works that need only 3 critiques. Once a work has received 3, the work is out. While you’re reading a work, you can often see if there is a critique in progress. The page also tells you how many critiques are left available for the work is out of the Spotlight.
You can critique most works that are out of the Spotlight–but not for full Karma points. Some points you get are in decimals, like 0.10 or 0.34, depending on the number of words you write.
The Point System
When you sign up, you are given an amount of Karma points. For a free user, you need to use 5 Karma points in order to post your writing to be critiqued. When I signed up, I think I was given 3 Karma—meaning I had to earn the rest.
Through critiquing, I earned the rest and posted my short story–spending 5 Karma. Once it was critiqued, I could rate the critiques given.
When you first post and/or critique, guidelines pop up. Read them. Ultimately, you want to be respectful while critiquing.
And you must still be respectful when being critiqued–even if you feel the critiquer was being mean or insulting. There’s an option at the bottom of a critique labeled ‘Bad Critique?’ I haven’t had to click on it yet.
Courtesy is important on a site like this. The site has its Codes of Conduct for authors and critiquers.
Types of Critiques
Scribophile provides 3 different types of critiques:
Inline Critique → You can critique the work line-by-line as well as in the work. You can highlight and comment, or make suggestions right next to the section you want. You can do
strikethroughs, what you suggest can be removed. I find it similar to grading a paper–you can write on it.
Template or Prose Critique → The author might include a small prompt (Critique Guidance) where they might specify what they hope to find in your critique. I’ve used it to ask my critiquers for specific tips on characterization or plotting. The template itself already provides aspects of the work to focus on such as Plotting, Pacing, Description, Point of View, and Grammar/Spelling.
Freeform Critique → You still get the Critique Guidance the author provides, but you’re free to write on anything.
All three options allow for an Opening comments section, but only the first two have a Closing Comments section. The second and third critique allow for block quoting. All three provide information on how to use these options in the most beneficial way.
I think every sort of subscription service has levels of membership (which I personally find irritating).
Premium members can post an unlimited amount of works to be critiqued. Unlimited.
Premium members get to save drafts of critiques, whereas a Basic member (like myself) must write the critique at once. If I leave the page, all that I wrote is completely gone. This. Sucks.
Premium members get a lot for either $9 a month or $65 for a whole year (the $65 is one payment).
Premiums get unlimited posted work, unlimited messages in their inbox, Personal Spotlights, formatting controls like italics and bold, include images, announce published works (the site will post about it on its sites)–even discounts to Grammarly and Scrivener!
Life of a Basic Member
As I mentioned before: inability to save drafts of critiques.
I’m only allowed 10 messages in my inbox.
I can only post 2 works. If I want to post a 3rd, I have to delete one work–and I lose the critiques that go with it.
The works you post have to be less than 3,000… at least. If one chapter is longer than that, it’ll have to be broken up. The problem with this is that Basic Members can only post 2 works at a time, so if you want to post a novel on Scribophile, it will be a very… slow… process. And critiquers of later chapters will miss out on the information in previous chapters.
Obviously, you get what you get with free stuff. I think some time in the near future, I’ll go monthly. Putting a novel through Scribophile would definitely help.
Why I Think It’s Worth Checking Out
I’m on Wattpad, and I enjoy it. The thing about Wattpad is that it is filled with a really wide spectrum of writers. I think it’s been 2 years since I received a comment that had actual criticism. I get a lot of nice comments, but nothing that I can actually use to better my writing.
Scribophile is a lot of give-and-take. The point system really gives its users an incentive to really think about the work and how you can help. It’s not like school where students write a bunch of B.S. just to meet the word count.
The people critiquing your work are writers too, and even if they’re critiquing for the points, they’re also taking the time to read other work and think of other work.
What they see in your writing could be the very same thing they’re struggling with in their writing. I think seeing the same issues in different works really gives writers a new idea toward dealing with their writing problems.
This was my take on Scribophile. I know I’m not the first to write about it, and I doubt I’ll be the last, but I wanted to share my experience with it–which is better to do as a member.
For instance, to see all the perks Premium members get, you have to be a Basic member. I like trying to talk about sites when I don’t have an account or am logged out in case you don’t feel like making an account. I sneaked out some info for you. 😀
The site takes in short stories and novels, novellas and poetry, even memoirs, articles and queries. Yeah–you can get advice on query letters!
I hope this post as been informative. Thank you for your time.