New entry May 06
Critters is 25!
Last November, Critters turned 25 years old! Wow! Thanks so much to all of you, who've made it such a resounding success!
Books from Critters!
Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.
New Book from a Critter Member**NOW IN PRINT EDITION TOO!** Awesome new book, HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SPECULATIVE FICTION OPENINGS, from a Critter member who's unearthed a shard of The Secret to becoming a pro writer. Really good piece of work. "...if you're at all concerned about story openings, you'd be nuts not to read what Qualkinbush has to say." —Wil McCarthy, author of BLOOM and THE COLLAPSIUM
Space Travel for SF Writers
Hot off the presses from ReAnimus Press! Space Travel - A Science Fiction Writer's Guide— An indispensible tool for all SF writers that explains the science you need to help you make your fiction plausible. (Also via Amazon)
I was interviewed live on public radio for Critters' birthday, for those who want to listen.
Free Web Sites
Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.
ReAnimus Acquires Advent!
ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!
THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock
Announcing ReAnimus Press
If you're looking for great stuff to read from bestselling and award-winning authors—look no further! ReAnimus Press was founded by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]
What is Critters?
Critters.org / Critique.org was founded in 1995 by Dr. Andrew Burt, which, since the web was so new and there were no other workshops, makes Critters the first writers' workshop on the web.
Critters began life as an on-line workshop/critique group specifically for serious Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror writers, then grew up into a set of workshops for every other kind of artistic endeavor.
What that means is... A bunch of writers (or artists, or creators) get together, review each others' work, and tell the creator how they felt about their piece.
The ultimate goal of Critters is to help improve your craft, not only by having your work dissected by other members, but also by learning to dissect your own work (by, of course, dissecting others). The value of the latter is often overlooked by beginners.
It works something like this: Suppose you submit a short story or chapters of a novel (whole novels and other large works are handled differently; see below). You email your manuscript (in the proper format), it gets put into a queue of stories; in about a month, when it bubbles to the top of the queue, it (and a batch of others) are shown around to the members (by email or they can get them off the web page). Critiques are due within a week. Most pieces get 15-20 critiques.
"Critique" means an in-depth description of how the critiquer felt about and reacted to the work, with the intent of helping the author/creator improve it. For fiction, for example, one would likely comment on characterization, plot, setting, logic of the underlying idea, effectiveness of the opening and ending, etc., as well as smaller "nits" like factual inaccuracies, logical mistakes, unclear passages, and perhaps any grammar or spelling errors that escaped proofreading. Comments may be of praise or concern. Generally praise is reserved for areas the reader thinks the author has done exceptionally well. Typically more concerns are raised than praise -- since it's the "concerns" the author is most likely to want to address, especially those shared by multiple readers. Concerns should always be phrased tactfully and as the critiquer's personal opinion.
Critters is large as critique groups go (several thousand members, from ultra-beginner to multi-novel pro), and has handled thousands of manuscripts to date, with enough critique material to fill thousands of books. Many critique groups come and go, usually failing because of poor organization and member apathy / lack of participation. Critters has successfully solved the first problem by lots of automation :-) and the second by requiring members to submit critiques. Members are asked for roughly one critique a week, with some provision for vacations and such. (You can get ahead, catch up, etc. See the rules for full details.) This has worked phenomenally well.
Where the workshop excels is in two ways: (1) Requiring in-depth critiques (not just "I liked it", but several hundred words of critique covering many aspects) and (2) requiring courteous, diplomatic phrasing of critiques (not "sugar coating" but delivering the bad news phrased in a way that's been proven to work).
Critters also has a special program for getting entire novels and other large works critiqued quickly, something that is notoriously difficult in any workshop, face-to-face or on-line.
For more information or to join, see the other links off the main page. Your craft will thank you.