If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve probably seen me mention using Scribophile a few times. I thought I’d talk about that today. This is not an affiliate post. It’s just a way to practice your critique skills and maybe gain a few critiques in return.
What is Scribophile?
It’s a website where members can upload stories for critique. They have a free version and a paid version; I use the free version. Members earn points, called Karma, by reading and critiquing other people’s stories. When a member has enough Karma saved up, they can upload a story of their own. They can also use Karma points to give gifts to other members. It’s pretty social, too. Members can add other writers to a Favorites list, join groups, send messages to each other, and participate in forum discussions.
The best time to critique a story is when it’s in a spotlight. Stories that have a little yellow sunshine icon after the title are in the spotlight. There are different spotlights for each genre. When someone uploads a new story, it goes into a spotlight queue. Once a story in a spotlight receives three long critiques, it moves out of the spotlight and the next story in the queue takes its place. Members can critique stories before they reach the spotlight, or after they’ve left it, for a reduced amount of karma.
New members, and the top five critiquers of the day, automatically get a spotlight, too. New members get their first story in a spotlight until they receive three critiques. Good critiquers get one story in the spotlight for a full day, no matter how many critiques it receives during that time.
My favorite things about using Scribophile
It’s really easy
It only takes a few minutes to create an account. You do have to accumulate five Karma points before you can upload a story, but their critique system is easy, too. You have the option of doing an inline critique, which seems to be what most members prefer, or a comment-style critique. There are guidelines on the page that tell you how much Karma you’ll receive for critiquing the story. Ideally, you’ll want to critique stories that are in a spotlight because you’ll earn more Karma that way.
When you critique a story, other users can view your critique. They can even grade you on it, which gives you bonus Karma. Earning Karma is pretty simple as long as you enjoy doing critiques.
You can get quite a bit of feedback
The first story I uploaded was long enough that I divided it into two posts. I got five critiques on the first part, and three critiques on the second part. The second story I uploaded was shorter, and it got four critiques. You can also revise your stories and re-enter them into the spotlight queue. I did this with the second story I uploaded, and received three more critiques. Most of the feedback I got was either positive or constructive, but there are some details down below about the very few problems that I’ve experienced.
I delete my stories once I feel like I have enough feedback to identify and fix any problems. I don’t like leaving my fiction posted online, especially pieces I’m thinking about publishing. Even though the odds of it being stolen are very low, I still don’t want it out there.
The social aspect is interesting
I’ve met a few writers through Scribophile. I don’t hang out on the forums or really follow people, but it’s nice to send someone a message when they critique a story for me, or receive a message when I’ve done a critique for someone else.
Things I don’t like so much
The genre system for spotlights
It works, and it doesn’t work. Some people don’t classify their material correctly, and that’s irritating to me. The real burn is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to report it so it can be reclassified. I don’t like seeing novels in the short story queue, or really long pieces uploaded into flash fiction.
No time limit for spotlights
Stories sit in a spotlight until they get three critiques. Every once in a while, a story will sit there for a long time before someone breaks down and gives it a critique–which means the writers stuck in the queue behind it have to wait even longer for their stories to come up.
Every once in a while, I’ll see a critique where it’s really obvious they’re not even reading the story. I could report them, but I hate to do it since it costs that person Karma. For all I know, they’re doing the best they can even if it doesn’t seem that way to me.
Also, since Scribophile is a platform for all writers, sometimes I get critiques from people who are just inexperienced. One time, I had someone tell me I should turn pretty much all of my sentences into sentence fragments. She also didn’t know anything about basic punctuation and suggested I delete a lot of that, too. I just thanked her and left it at that.
Consider giving it a chance
Overall, even though there are some problems, I think the good outweighs the bad. If you’re looking for a beta read or a critique and you don’t want to try cultivating a relationship with another writer or paying someone to do it, consider giving Scribophile a chance.
I may revisit this at some point if my opinion changes or if I have something to add. If you have any questions or anything you’d like to say, please leave a comment below. Also, check out those handy social media buttons while you’re down there! It only takes a click to share my posts with your writer friends now, so please do. Thanks!