I’ve been praising YouWriteOn.com, a UK website that lets you post short stories (under 5,000 words) and the initial chapters of a novel (up to 10,000 words) to be critiqued by other writers. The deal is that you need to read and critique someone else’s work in order to have your story assigned randomly to someone to critique.
There are some problems with the site however. When you submit your work, you can identify its genre, which is revealed to potential reviewers. While I won’t review certain types of writing because I am not a fan of all genres, some people will do so. One person who reviewed the first chapters of the mystery I’m working on, wrote that he generally doesn’t like mysteries. Well, it didn’t surprise me when his review gave me the lowest scores of any reviewer. (Fortunately you can lop off your lowest review after you have received 5 reviews.)
The other problem is that the site seems to be attracting a lot of very young writers. I’ve read two or three attempts recently that were very bad – replete with spelling, grammatical and word choice mistakes. The most recent one twice wrote “waist” for “waste,” started sentences with lower case letters and repeatedly used ‘and’ to combine phrases that had nothing in common (“souls” and “a list”). It’s apparent that these writers are not even taking the time to run a spell checker before they upload their works.
Nevertheless, some of the comments I have received have been on target and therefore very helpful. I will continue to use the site as well as test similar sites. I’d love to hear from others about your experiences with writing community websites.