Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Review of an Online Critiquing Service

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.


  1. At the risk of coming across as if I've started commenting on your every post, I have to point out that you misspelled "summery". I wouldn't usually bother, but it's just so wryly ironic. Perhaps it was subconscious mourning for warmer days, now that the weather has turned so cold.

    Good advice though, and thanks for the tip off.

  2. Yikes! I posted this quite late after a long day of work, so that's my excuse.

    See, another good reason to get people to read your work. The spell check didn't pick that up because 'summery' is also a word (to do with the season).

    Thanks for pointing that out, Barry.

    And feel free to comment on every post! ;)

  3. Thank you for this post, Ms. Playle. I'm still in the "too-scared-to-show-my-stuff-to-other-people-because-I-don't-think-it's-polished-enough-yet" stage, but I know it's time for me to man up and let other eyes help me get better. I think a lot of it is being afraid to show my pages to people I know. My stuff can get pretty dark, and I don't want my friends thinking I'm a weirdo! Showing it to a complete stranger, who lives somewhere out there in cyberspace, would probably be the perfect antidote for me. I'm going to pick out a chapter from my manuscript and send it off to Ms. Thayer this evening. I agree her prices are very reasonable, and I appreciate you bringing this to our attention!

  4. Please continue to post your experiences with professional critiquers. It's such a long and strenuous process, and I'm sure you've heard of times when people came out with worse writing after receiving unhelpful critiques (it's scary that some can be harmful). But I'll check the site out! Have a great week!

  5. Thanks for the twitter love...really wish you would write with us....could us some UK flavor....but will follow your work regardless

  6. PS. I’ve left you a little something on my blog. Check it out :-)


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