About Writers, Literary critique, Writers Co-op

Let’s Exchange Critiques!

Writers Co-op is about helping writers. We’re here to offer advice, resources, and experience about marketing, publishing, and the writing process itself. I’m sure there are other ways you can think of in which Writers Co-op can support its community, but I’m here to offer the one every writer needs even if they think they don’t: thoughtful, constructive, kind critiques.

How many of us are fortunate enough to have a dedicated set of beta readers who eagerly await each installment of our latest Work In Progress? Who among us has even one friend to call on who will read the 400 page draft of our brilliant literary fiction with an editor’s eye, sharing their thoughts in enough detail to help us polish our work to a professional gleam? How often have you wished a real writer would take a look at what you’ve written and offer a little free feedback?

Of course, it’s possible you are absolutely certain what you have spent months writing in the solitary mental confinement of your favorite room or coffee house or poolside bar is absolutely perfect just as you’ve written it. *snort* Guess again. Don’t get me wrong, there are probably many positive things to say about your manuscript, but there are probably at least a few things that need clarification or further description or a little rewriting to maintain continuity and interior logic. Sure, it’s all clear to you — you wrote it. But if you’re looking for a critique, you’re hoping for an audience. If a member of the audience says it’s not clear or it’s confusing, you’d do well to pay attention.

So here’s the deal:

If you have a piece of writing you would like a member of Writers Co-op to critique, whether it’s a short story, essay, poem, novella, novel, or a portion or chapter of a longer work, attach it as a .docx or .pdf to an email and send it to me at stranscht@sbcglobal.net. Please put “Critique Exchange” in the Subject line. (Just to be clear, by submitting your work for critique, you are agreeing to critique the work of the person who critiques your work.) I will match you with a critique partner who groks your genre and is able to take on a critique at that time, and they will send you their work to critique while they critique yours. The writer who needs the most time to complete their critique will set the deadline for both of you. Writers Co-op expects you both to honor that deadline or Writers Co-op will have the option of disallowing further participation of the author who fails to meet the deadline.

Now, a few words about writing and receiving critiques. Write the sort of critique you would find most helpful. Like I said earlier, thoughtful, constructive, and kind work for me. Snark and sarcasm might be fun, but they aren’t actually helpful or kind, so please restrain those urges. As for receiving a critique, first coat your skin with Armor All, then consider Neil Gaiman’s sage advice:

“Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.” ~~~ Neil Gaiman

We’re excited to invite you to take advantage of this service. You might even know other writers who are searching for this opportunity and would be grateful if you shared this post with them.


14 thoughts on “Let’s Exchange Critiques!

  1. Just a suggestion, but I would mandate that,
    “You must agree to do a critique in order to receive a critique.”

    Serious writers won’t object, and it’ll be easier to administer the program if you have as many people doing critiques as wanting critiques.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Perry Palin says:

    I am a member of a writers’ group. We submit 500-2,500 words per month, and discuss. Some members pick at individual words or phrases, or the sounds of words. Others comment on flow and pacing. Others explore alternatives to getting a message on paper. I was lucky to be invited to join; not everyone gets in.

    I have taken a winter writing course for four years. We’re not pros at this, but the students read and comment on one another’s work, and it has been great.

    I won’t argue with the Book Country quote by GD at the top of the post, but I have to assume the person offering criticism is competent. I’ve had comments sometimes from people that just don’t get a story. Sometimes the story needs attention. Sometimes it’s not the story’s fault. I had a reader once complain that the two young men in a story were too much alike. Well, that was the point. They were the closest of friends for a reason.

    I will participate in this for a short story. I have some stories that could use another set of eyes. I’ll pick one and send it to Sue.

    Be aware that in a critique I can be picky about perceived inconsistencies within a story or about details that don’t seem to fit. Back in Book Country days I had to bite hard when a writer had wild deer sleep in a pile of hay in a barn (ah, no, never). I just finished reading a British mystery where the young female narrator refers to shotgun ammunition as “bullets” and “cartridges.” Was this sloppy editing, or was the author underlining the narrator’s unfamiliarity with firearms? I don’t know, but it was a distraction.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. victoracquista says:

    At present, I do not have something I am ready to ask for a critique on. I am interested in participating in this at some future point when I am read to exchange something.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Find a Critique Partner | writers co-op

  5. I’m interested in trying this out. My problem is, I’m writing book 4 of a series. I can’t see how somebody could give me good feedback on this one without reading the preceding stories. So what I’m going to do is send a short story that is actually an except from the novel I hope to write next: “How I Ended Up with Two Wives.” I’ll put it together tomorrow Monday.
    I have a critique group that gives me excellent feedback, but only a chapter at a time. What I miss is overall critique of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi, Sue: Thank you for this opportunity to get a critique. I’m currently finishing a nonfiction wip that could probably use a quick once over for overall continuity, but it is far too long for the group. I also have, however, a historical fantasy wip on hold for which I will be in need of a critique in a few months, and so I am now available to read short works if others need a critique: I prefer historical work, whether nonfiction or fic/fantasy, but I will read anything except erotica, if you need readers.

    Warm Regards,

    Liked by 3 people

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