My fellow creative writers out there will all know the value of a good critique. I usually post my work to an online group to get some feedback, but I thought I would try out a 'professional critiquer'.
I found 'Constructive Critiques' (www.constructivecritiques.com), the site of Karlyn Thayer, Writing Instructor. On her site, Karlyn offers a free critique of 1000 words, so I decided I had nothing to lose.
I sent her the last 1000 words of one of my longer short stories. I was very impressed with the speed at which Karlyn processed my request. By the end of the day I had a confirmation email, and by the end of the next day I had my critique.
Karlyn wrote me a two page critique, and at the end added a highlighted version of my 1000 words to pick out exactly where I was going wrong. She started by picking out what she thought the strong points were. My initial reaction to this was that it sounded a little too complimentary, but perhaps I am used to receiving harsher crits. Anyhow, it was quite nice and she wrote in a way that made me feel confident in my ability.
Then Karlyn picked out a relevant quote which lead smoothly into her criticisms. She picked out three main areas of improvement and presented them in an easy-to-understand and logical way.
Karlyn highlighted some problems with my writing that I was unable to see, and that my online critiquing group had also missed. After she had picked them out, they seemed so obvious to me, yet I'm sure even after ten re-reads I would not have seen them! I think this reinforces that it is always a good idea to get a fresh pair of eyes look at your work, and even better than that a fresh pair of professional eyes.
The critique ended with a polite, quick and complimentary summary.
Karlyn's critiquing rates are very reasonable (check out her website), and her free critiquing offer is definitely worth a go. I may use her services at some point in the future.