Post and Critique Guidelines

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Post and Critique Guidelines

Post by danjvelker » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:35 pm

Post and Critique Guidelines

Refer to this thread before you share or critique your first story. I want to make sure that we're all on the same page about how to best help our fellow writers. This thread will also host any questions, comments, or concerns you have regarding the guidelines, and is an appropriate place for you to make any suggestions for how we can improve them.

By posting in this forum you agree to the following: All work uploaded to The Writer's Guild is the property of its poster, and will not be shared or modified without their explicit permission.

Posting Guidelines

This site does not host files, so please share your stories through Google Docs or a similar and accessible file hosting site. When using Google Docs, make sure that the link is set to enable viewing and commenting, but not editing. Remember: this forum is password-locked, so your stories are not visible to anyone but approved members.

Create a new thread for every unique submission. Structure your subject line in the following way: Format: "TITLE", [Word Count]. There is no specific designation for formats. Just make sure you're descriptive enough that people know what you're submitting, what it's called, and generally how long it is.
(Examples: Short Story: "Lutwidge Ranch", [5,600] ||| Chapter 2: "The Unanswered Riddle", [3,600] ||| Worldbuilding: "Sagea", [12,000])

Include a short paragraph introducing your piece, and another short paragraph describing what sort of critique you would like to receive. You may know that there are grammatical errors, and you're really wondering with whether or not the characterization is believable. You might be concerned that your pacing is uneven and your dialogue is stilted, and not really care about the villain's bad motives because you have a plan to address them. Make sure we know that. Make sure both paragraphs are brief. Include the link to your story at the top of your post.

I recommend uploading in Shunn Standard Manuscript Form, as that is easily read and is the format that publishers will want for submissions, but as long as your upload is clear and readable I won't enforce anything.

Don't get defensive when receiving critiques. Assume that the criticism is correct and work on that assumption unless you have very good reason to think otherwise. Remember that the reader's experience of your story is always valid. Maybe the reader didn't pick up on the trail of subtle clues that led to your twist... but it's more likely that you just weren't clear enough. Be humble.

Any piece of creative writing is appropriate for this sub. We prefer that it be fantasy (or science-fiction) related, but we will accept and critique anything. That means that worldbuilding is appropriate to share, as long as it is clearly labeled as such.

Be smart about the length of your submissions. I'm going to tell you right now that I will never find the time to critique anything over 15,000 words unless it really shows potential. I won't enforce a hard cap on length limits, but I will recommend that you keep your submissions under 10,000 words.

Writers, take your lumps. You're submitting for a critique: expect a critical response. You are neither the next Tolkien nor the next Dostoevsky; in short, you are probably an average writer who has plenty of room to grow. Learn to maintain a growth mindset. Be humble and be kind to the people who are kind enough to read your stories.

Oh, and don't spam submissions. It can take time for people to find availability to critique, especially if you're sharing longer excerpts. If it's been over ten days, you can go ahead and make another submission. Just use your best judgement and don't hide everyone else's submissions with yours. If you update a draft significantly and want another shot at revision, just comment and bump your thread. Do not abuse this, or your ability to make new submissions may be temporarily halted. It is not appropriate to ask for another critique after changing two paragraphs. Once again, be kind to your critiquers.

Critiquing Guidelines

Here are some suggested common critiques: grammar, plot effectiveness, narrative pacing, believability of character development, believable character motives, worldbuilding, quality of dialogue, quality of prose, purple prose, inclusion or lack of themes, balance of exposition and dialogue, showing vs. telling, use or lack of sensory language, use or lack of similes and metaphors, reader immersion and engagement, etc. You are by no means limited to these categories, but they may help direct you towards a more effective examination.

Be helpful, be kind. It is important for writers to know what they are doing well, so that they can do more of it. Similarly, it is important for writers to know what they are doing poorly so that they can do less of it. When identifying weak points in the submission, try your best to suggest better alternatives to help them out (i.e. This line of dialogue comes across as stilted, I would recommend rewriting like this...)

It's OK to include how the story makes you feel as a part of your critique. If you were bored, say so. If you found a scene particularly engaging, mention it. If you abandoned the story by the second page, say so; but don't forget to add why you didn't finish, and suggest ways that they might improve it in their next draft.

Don't make assumptions; seek first to understand. Try to ask questions before you assert criticism. Maybe it really was a deus ex machina... or maybe you missed a few details while you were skimming the piece. Be open to the author's intent.

Critique within your league. If you're working with an amateur, offer simpler suggestions. If you're working with someone who has the basics down, yeah, get a little more in-depth. If you're working with something really impressive, then really use that opportunity to challenge them. You should always offer your best critique, but it isn't really fair to criticize an author for not having thematic depth when they're struggling to use complete sentences.

Don't be aggressive. It is likely that you will not know the person you are critiquing -- at least for now. Be honest, but maybe censor your honesty a little bit if you don't know that person very well. Do not mock, disparage, or abuse other users. That is behavior that will not be tolerated, and should be immediately brought to my attention if it is witnessed.


This document is open to your recommendations. Make any suggestions below, whether it's for additions or for things you feel can safely be cut. I know it's long, but I want to be thorough.
“But what do you want to save time for? What are you going to do with it?”
“For work, if you love that best. For education, for beauty, for art, for pleasure. For mumblety-peg, if that's where your heart lies.”

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