Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

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Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit27883 » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:39 am

I'm admittedly one of the newest members, but I have a fair mind for systems theory, and I'm a little puzzled by the queue organization.

I think limiting selections to around 20 per week is good, and as long as the mix is pretty even between genres, chronological posting makes sense . . .

until the queue gets too long, like now, that is.

So I submitted the first two chapters of my novel three weeks ago (back in late May), and I see that I should get my first critiques maybe in 2.5 months.

I can live with the wait, even though I'm rapidly approaching the end of the first draft of the whole novel, and I'd hoped to get critters starting on it earlier than this so they'd finish before it goes to my agent. But then aburt keeps emailing me to critique more stories. But why would I? I have lots of published stuff to read. And I've already critiqued enough to get the first third of the novel critiqued.

I noticed that once I get published, I can avoid the queue wait and go to the front, so I'll definitely be back for that.

What would get me critiquing more in the meantime?

Instead of one submitted critique only being good to have one submission critiqued, one for one, what if that remains the minimum requirement, . . .

BUT what if every fourth or fifth critique I submitted moved my submissions up in the queue by one week? That would certainly motivate me.

Then there is still this problem with too much stuff in the queue. I see flash fiction and short short stories taking up slots I could have put 3 chapters into. And they are fast to write, so it would be easy to critique one, then submit one, critique another, submit another. There are also lots of rewrites in the queue. That doesn't take as much time to do either, so those authors are going to be clogging up the queue too.

When I start writing a novel, that's all I do for months and months. If I write two in a year, it will be a miracle. It's too soon to start submitting when I'm only on chapter 4 because too much is in flux, and evidently it's too late if I wait until chapter 16 to start submitting chapters.

So I'm thinking: What happens when the queues are separated by genre and/or length? Maybe some would critique more narrowly than they do now.

So why not establish a weekly quota, and anytime there is a flood of shorter pieces or horror stories, they get backed up, and don't hold back the rest of us?

Do people even read the revisions? Isn't there some other way to handle them?

Maybe novels like mine that are looking for dedicated readers should go to a separate queue. We could still submit chapters in the normal queue, but it would also help free up the queue for other lengths of stories. And it would be a place where one could start at the beginning (chapter 1) when others who caught on to my genius at its first appearance are already reading in the middle (chapter 12).

Or maybe I should hold aburt's queue system at fault for the fact that I have to spend an unreasonably long time to find a real sci-fi novel for pleasure reading and end up slugging my way through too many poorly copyedited self-published novels that had intriguing plot lines.

(If you read it again, you'll see I have a cleverly hidden agenda hidden in there)
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Name: Mark Salzwedel
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit27883 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:06 pm

I also recently found a critique-generating program here that I don't know if it is still being used, but it seems like a pointless gamble more likely to produce lots of superficial reviews. I'll explain:

If you have submitted the most reviews in a week, your next submission goes to the top of the queue.

Without or even with a toteboard of current standings, the one or two who want to risk a lot of time fight it out, and one gets rewarded, and the other wasted hours of his/her time. All in all, it doesn't raise the quality or quantity of submissions, I'd bet.
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby aburt » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:29 pm

Hi, Mark, some quick thoughts on the queue structure. It's geared toward ensuring that people do a reasonable number of critiques in order to get their own work critiqued. The timing is based on a formula that seemed to work very well in an in-person workshop that produced a LOT of successful writers (averaging about one major award per member). Namely, that one would do about three critiques a month, and one's own work would typically have to wait a month to get critiqued. Critters has held mostly to that, given the ebb and flow, for over 15 years. It seems to work pretty darned well. The finalists for Hugo and Nebula awards are usually comprised of maybe a quarter to a third Critterfolk, which is pretty amazing considering that the bulk of SFWA members (i.e. pro authors) are not Critters members. (We have quite a few, but certainly not 25-35% of SFWA members -- meaning that Critter members are disproportionately represented on awards ballots. I think that's pretty interesting.)

So, yes, you have to critique to get critiqued. Doing in-depth critiques is fully half the value of Critters to improving one's writing. The more you analyze what others write, and the more deeply, the better you come to understand your own.

(I see from your ratio that you're still pretty new to things, with not many critiques under your belt here yet.)

As for your timing estimates, they're not quite right. Your piece is slated for just over a month after you submitted it. (May 30 -> July 4) That's pretty typical, and a good thing to my mind. But it's not 2.5 months as you suggested.

I'll look over your other ideas, as I'm always on the lookout for ideas that increase the amount and quality of critiquing on the site.

I definitely don't allow folks to scam the system using phony critique generators, and expect authors to report to me when they get what appear to be phony critiques. It hurts the person doing the crit too, since, as I said, doing in-depth critiques is highly valuable. So trying to game the system just hurts the scammer in the end. This isn't like school where there's a grade. The sole purpose is to improve one's craft, so I hope folks would trust the (fairly successful) system and let it work. :)
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit14135 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:38 am

I have to agree with aburt that the doing of the crits is one of the
most valuable parts of the process here.

I would also suggest to any new person that they do the following
process -
1) read a story that's pretty good but has some flaws
2) crit that story (but don't send)
3) wait a day or so, then read it again, twice.
4) fix your crit, then send
5) at the end of the week, read every single crit for that story.

You will find that
(A) some persons gave the exact opposite advice from others on
some point
(B) some person gave advice that you had *felt* but couldn't figure
out how to put into words
(C) some person missed the point of the story completely.

That will help you to understand, on a gut level, that receiving crits is
a statistical thing. You are getting feedback from a wide variety of
readers, and some of it, I can guarantee, will be wrong. Some of it
will conflict. Some of it won't line up with you intentions for the story.

And that will free you as an author. Crits are not holy, and they are
not even, on average, right. But they are a valuable service so you
can see where your story is working and where it's not. If two critters
tell you there is a problem at a particular place in your story, they
are likely to be right. They may not be right about *what* the problem
is, but they are right about *where*, more or less.
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit14135 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 3:39 am

By the way, if you're just in a hurry, I believe all you have to do is do ten crits in a single week and you get a brownie point that allows you to skip to the head of the queue. I did that a lot a few years back.
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit28479 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 3:14 am

I have similar feelings to the OP. When I joined I did a couple of crits, but then noticed if I submitted something, it would be over a month before I got any payback. I don't have any problem in doing crits if I think I can benefit (I'm active on other boards), but I don't really want to wait a month every time. It would take YEARS to get crits for a novel. If it's a short story that I'm actively working on, it will probably be revised twice while its sitting in the queue. Basically, the only things I would be willing to put in a queue with such a delayed gratification are stories that are less than my best.
The only possible benefit is the potential to develop relationships with other folks that might become beta readers, but that is such an uncertain thing, it's intangible.
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit28482 » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:06 pm

Hey,

Just for balance, I've found the process to be excellent so far. I don't think I've had to wait more than 3 - 4 weeks to have a story critiqued, and I've gotten a ton of immensely helpful feedback on my short stories. I notice that the people who have significant issues with the workshop structure here are novelists, and it's possible that's part of the problem - though I don't think I understand why the RFDR route wouldn't be used in that instance (or if it is, why it's not effective).

I'd also echo that the act of critiquing will, if you do it right, improve your own writing, in some cases dramatically. I've learned so much from critiquing good ideas that are (IMO) badly executed, in terms of how to get ideas across, methods for avoiding the 'info dump', the kiss of death that is the overused adverb - some of this I'd known before, intellectually, but nothing really drills it into you like spotting it in someone else’s work, and then figuring out how to point it out in the most diplomatic way possible (as an aside, nothing kills me more as a reader than a good, even brilliant idea, badly executed).

One of the driving principles of my life is to try and learn, not just from my own mistakes, but where possible from those of others. Critiquing, if you engage with it properly, WILL help you do that.

I want to be absolutely the best writer I can possibly be, and I'm nowhere near there yet, and figuring out what makes other people successful and unsuccessful, and putting that into writing, has now become a critical (DYSWIDT ? :-) component of that process fro me.

YMMV, of course, but I guess I felt I wanted to stand up for the process, because unless you already are Stephen King/Orson Scoot Card/David Gemmel (and, sorry, but you're not) you need to get better too. And writing crits will make you better.
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit28479 » Thu Feb 14, 2013 4:48 am

I don't know if you were responding to me or not. I have no problem doing crits. I do them on several other sites. It's the delay between submitting and getting crits for my work that is the problem. I'm never in the situation where I write something and think - - I'd like to get some feedback in a month or three. I know there is a special situation for folks that want to post an entire novel, which in theory might be exactly what I want, but I think I would need to establish a relationship w/ folks before they'd be willing to be beta readers, and it would take many months before I could find interested readers.
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Re: Crit for 3 months before I get a crit? Why?

Postby crit15937 » Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:12 pm

It's only the first submission that would take that long. You could potentially submit each week so that you are only waiting a long time for the first one. That is what I am doing. I wanted to do a RFDR before but no one signed up for it when that story went into the cue. I think people see that label and jump away saying they just don't have time to read and crit a whole novel. I know I felt the same way when I saw that label. I mean for me I get bored quickly so if I am not absolutely fascinated by a story I can't keep reading til the end. So I think just putting up submissions in chunks works fine. You can submit up to five chapters at once so if you submit five chapters each week then it wouldn't take that long to get them all critiqued. Also you only have to submit one crit a week. I thought it was strange that you said you had done enough but it isn't about a certain number but doing one per week so until your story gets through you have to keep up with that one a week or it is held back. Though if you did like a hundred crits that might change things. I am not sure on that but this system is a heck of a lot better than just hoping someone will help you. I tried numerous other sites and ways to get feedback and no matter how often I would to to them so many would disappoint me. I would crit a few stories and no one would ever return the favor. Even if they did return it would would be a short bit that didn't help enough. With this sites 500 word requirement it means that I will get something worthwhile for my time. Even with all that I sincerely doubt you will have to wait three months. I bet the longest wait wouldn't even be two months. It usually is pretty steady at 3-four weeks at most. It is certainly better than never. I don't know of any other site that is as assured as this one. I know that as long as I follow the guidelines I am guaranteed to get some feedback. That is why I came back here after a long absence. I knew I could count on this site to give me the feedback I needed when every other site was letting me down.
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