Scribophile – does it help new writers?

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For the past few months, I’ve been using an online writing critique site called Scribophile.

Scribophile works on a karma system. You collect ‘karma points’ by critiquing other people’s work, and once you have earnt enough karma points you can post your own piece of writing for review.

I was nervous at first. For one, I wasn’t sure if posting my work on a site like Scribophile would count as publishing my work online. What if someone steals it, or steals my idea?

Scribophile isn’t open to anyone. Only those with an account can view writing. And as far as I am aware, posting on these kind of critique sites does not count as publishing your work online. For starters, what you originally post will be very unlikely to be the end product.

I must admit, I am still a little hesitant. So far, I’ve stuck with posting short stories, rather than my novel. Somehow that feels ‘safer’.

There are 2 types of account of Scribophile. Free accounts and paid subscription. I have a free account – and therefore this blog post relates entirely to my experience of the free account. If you have a subscription on Scribophile, do let me know how you find it!

The free account limits you to posting a maximum of 2 pieces of writing at any one time. I haven’t found this too much of an issue with short stories, as once I’ve *finished* working on a piece, I am happy to delete it off the Scribophile site and move onto my next piece. I suppose this would become more of an issue if you were posting chapters of a novel.

These are the positives and negatives I’ve experienced so far:

Positives:

  • People are honest. Unlike giving your story to a friend or family member who will most likely praise your work, the critique you receive will tell you the good and the bad. This really helps for improving your writing; I’ve found my writing has improved already in just the few months I’ve been using Scribophile.
  • It’s fair. Scribophile’s karma system means everyone must critique other work before posting their own.
  • It’s full of writers who care about writing, who are committed to investing a chunk of their time into reviewing your work.

Negatives:

  • It can take a long time to get feedback – generally speaking, only work featured in the ‘spotlight’ are critiqued. Only a limited number of posts are in the spotlight at one time, and when you submit your writing it goes into a queue for the spotlight. It can take days between hitting ‘submit’ and getting feedback.
  • Quality of reviews can vary – The great thing about Scribophile is that reviewers must give you at least 150ish words of feedback before it counts as a review. However, you only receive 3 reviews before your work is taken out of the spotlight again. You may get 3 very thorough, 500 words+ reviews, or you might get 3 150 word very brief reviews….

 

Are critique sites a good way to become a better writer? Absolutely. I’ve found Scribophile to be extremely useful – and I can really see the difference between first drafts vs. stories after a few rounds of edits/ resubmissions.

Just take advice with a pinch of salt. Nobody is pretending to be an expert, and there’s nothing to guarantee the person reviewing your story really knows better than you. Remember you are the writer. You have the final say.

Do you use Scribophile or another writing site? Or do you prefer writing groups that meet in person?

 

*** To anyone following this blog – I am sorry for the many duplicates of this post – I’ve been experiencing some issues uploading to WordPress this week***