Critique Circle

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 CritiqueCircle.com

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 HOW IT WORKS:  

Once you’re willing to let other humans read your works and are sick of pestering your friends to read your stories, it’s time to create a Critique Circle account. Creating a free account is easy, and you can start critiquing others work in the Story Queue right away. You earn credits for the critiques you give (typically around one credit a critique- more if it’s a longer piece). Then you use those credits to get your own stories added to the queue. It takes 3 credits to post your own story. If you want to post more than one story during the same critique period, the subsequent stories will cost more credits.

They have different queues for the many different genres of writing. You are open CC-Queuesto critique from and post your work to any queue you’d like. At first, I preferred to stick to posting my work in the “Newbies” queue which lets others on the site know you’re new to this. There is limited time to post here, but I recommend you use it while you can.  After that, I recommend you find your genre(s) and stick to reading and posting there since you’ll find writers with similar interests who have more experience in your type of writer (makes their critiques much more helpful).

Stories are left up for one week and receive between 2 and 8 critiques each – sometimes more, sometimes less. You can stop accepting critiques at any point. After reading the nice things people say, give them a ‘grade’ for their hard work and start the reading, posting cycle all over again.  Simple!

WHY I  LIKE IT:

My husband has phenomenal editing skills, but I can only ask him to read so many of my manuscripts before it starts to feel abusive. Critique Circle lets me see my manuscript through the eyes of readers who don’t know me, so they’re more honest than husband is (smart man). There is even the option to critique anonymously, if you’d like.

The site encourages critiquers (or “critters”) to be constructive while still being positive. 98% of the users of the site stick to this beautifully. Most critiques left me feeling good and ready to make their suggested changes.

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The other – less tactful – 2% I chalked up to it being “them not me” and would do my darnedest to set their opinion aside. With any critique site you have to go in to it realizing that just like you don’t like everything you read, there will be people who don’t prefer your work. It doesn’t mean it’s not good, or not marketable, it just means it’s not their taste. Those are the critiques you politely thank for their time and then ignore their suggestions. If you remember to stay polite regardless of what’s being thrown your way then you’ll see that kindness reciprocated.

OTHER FEATURES:

While I can’t begin to list them all, there is a lot more than just story queues on their site.  There are forums where you can meet and talk with other writers. Messaging so you can talk back and forth. Tools to track your progress. Writing exercises, games. Resources to answer your publishing/writing questions and blog posts to keep you encouraged. You really have to join to see everything they have to offer.  With Premium memberships your options are even greater for a small monthly fee.

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COST:

Basic Service is FREE. Premium membership for around $3 per month and Gold for about $6.

WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT:

Agents, editors – they all want to know if your work has been reviewed by others and for good reason. Your work is your baby, and like the parent of that awkward looking baby that has NO clue their child isn’t cute – you have to have someone that isn’t in love with your story look at it and honestly tell you if it’s awkward, cute or just a ugly duckling story that hasn’t been revised into a swan yet. Critique Circle is a great place for that. I recommend you give it a try.

CHECK OUT THEIR SITE:

www.critiquecircle.com

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Let’s eat Grandma!

Let’s talk grammar for a minute.

One of my favorite grammar posters is this one:

Lets Eat Grandma
Poster designed by Tator Bug

Grammar is a thorn in my side. There’s so many darn rules! How can anyone possibly keep them all straight? My favorite high school english teacher, Ms. Matheson, would hate to see this post. ‘Cuz then I’d have to admit that I zoned out whenever she started teaching grammar (and that I just started an incomplete sentence with the word ‘cuz).

In elementary school, I took one of my first stories to my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Jensen (mostly to show off, if I’m being honest. I thought it was hot stuff). She smiled, tucked the paper in her take home folder and said she’d read it  that night. The next day she handed the story back, covered in red ink; some were compliments, but lots were grammar fixes. I hid the story in my desk so no one could see.

I’ve gotten better at accepting criticism, but I still second guess my grammar. Every. Darn. Time. Semi-colons, dashes, commas before quotations… it all makes my head swim. If you can relate, read on. If you are a grammar genius (it’s okay to admit you are) then share some of that wealth below in the comments! How did you learn? Did you sleep with Elements of Style under your pillow each night? Do tell.

For the rest of us, green squiggly lines in Word and internet searches are magical things. Since Word’s grammar tool isn’t always the most accurate fix, here are some of my favorite grammar sites that help keep me on track. Most of the time.

1.  Grammar Girl:  http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

Lots of great podcasts on all things grammar.

Grammar Girl

2. The Purdue OWL:  https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/

It’s like going back to school, only I pay attention now. Lots of worksheets. Lots of answers.

purdue 0wl

3. Grammar Gorillas:  http://www.funbrain.com/grammar/

Okay, yes, this is a kid website. But come on, what’s more fun than playing a game to practice something boring like grammar?

grammar_gorilla

4.  Puncuation Paintball: http://streaming.discoveryeducation.com/braingames/iknowthat/Paintball/Medium.cfm

Another kid website – but another fun one 🙂

Punc Paintball

Any other great grammar sites out there I should check out? Let me know!

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