New entry May 19
is Dying has been Replaced
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 whose 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
How to Write SF
The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells by Ben Bova, best-selling author and six-time Hugo Award winner for Best Editor. (This is one of the books your ol' Critter Captain learned from himself, and I highly recommend it.) (Also via Amazon)
THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock
Announcing ReAnimus Press
If you need help making ebooks from manuscripts or print copies—or finding great stuff to read—look no further! An ebook publisher started by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]
I think the members of Critters are a pretty great bunch, but don't take my word for it.
|If you're a member or alumni, tell us what you think:|
Okay, so this is a self-serving page of nice things said by members, but everything here said represents their actual opinion. I don't censor this except to remove obscene entries, bozo joke entries, etc., and I plan to check up on negative reports with their authors to make sure there's nothing I can do to help (i.e., send problems to me by private mail first so I can try to fix things). I've got nothing to gain by false claims since Critters is free, but still, take with whatever salt you see fit. :-)
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Andrew Burt (Critter Captain),
Having met a number of Critters in person, and dealt with most others, I'm proud to say that the Critters are one of the the nicest groups of people I've met.
They're also hard working, since it's no easy matter to keep up with a critique a week.
The critters in Critters are very good at critiquing. I've gotten some excellent feedback on my story... I would highly recommend Critters to anyone on-line interested in improving their genre writing.
Wow! [Member's name] is not only a first-rate writer, he's a first-rate critiquer. ... [This] is JUST the kind of feedback I was really seeking! I am so glad I joined this group.
David L. Felts,
Learning how to read critically is one of the best things you can do to improve your own writing. Critters offers its members an opportunity to dissect a variety of work at all levels of skill and to get their own stories examined as well. You'll get nothing but benefits from this group.
Critters is probably one of the best ideas I've come across so far in online writers resources. If you write sf/f/h and want to know how to make your writing better, I definitely suggest joining. One critique a week is a small price to pay for so many opinions and ideas.
A great way to see how your story (or novel) worked for an objective audience.
This is my second time with Critters and I'm glad I'm back! I missed you all while I was away. Critters is a wonderfully supportive environment in which to learn the craft of writing. We all strive to be honest, but kind, when critting each others' work because we're all trying to do the same exact thing - - that is to write a good, readable, and hopefully saleable story. And the quality of writing that I read on a weekly basis is pretty amazingly good! The ol' Critter's Captain is always there to help and he's organized a mighty fine workshop. So, if you're thinking of coming on board, you've got nothing to lose and a whole lot of good information and new friends to gain.
This is the most vital group I have found online.
Jennifer Leigh Johnson,
When I joined Critters, it was to see how my writing faired before an objective audience. Doing critiques I saw as the work I had to do for the priviledge of sending in my own stories. I didn't take me long to realize that I was actually learning as much, if not more, by critiquing the writing of others. Not only do we have some really great writers here, we've got lots of really great people. This is the best thing by far that has ever happened to my writing.
Kevin L. McPherosn,
I tried a few online 'courses' geared toward creative writing before joining Critters, and none of them even compared. Stories that I write and send through the queue become much easier to revise due to the positive and friendly feedback I get back. Not one critique that I've received has failed to impart some helpful insight--I can only hope my own critiques have been as useful. Whenever any online writing friends ask me what they can do to improve their own writing, I just send them the Critters URL! :)
I just got some terrific feedback on my story. It's going to be most helpful when I revise. I'm going to make sure all my stories get critiqued before I send them anywhere.
Sheryl Lo Monaco,
I have belonged to Critters for just a short while. And I have learned SO much. When I was in college I took creative writing classes galore. But the stuff we wrote then and the stuff that the "professors" expected of us, was pure tripe. Having to critique and having to have MY work critiqued by other writers is the best thing that ever happened to my writing skills. I believe that now I can become the writer I have always wanted to be. But without the help of my fellow critters, I'm not sure if I would have been able to do so. Thanks, everybody!
Critters is the best thing that happened to my writing life. There's nothing like critiquing another person's manuscript to notice the faults in your own!
This is the second time I've been a member of Critters. The first time I had an ulterior motive for joining - a couple of stories I really needed opinions about. I submitted the stories, received pages of excellent critiques and suggestions, and stayed on to learn more. I finally dropped out because of a lack of time. Well, I'm busier than ever, but I'm back. I missed it too much to stay away. No ulterior motive, no stories awaiting a critique. Just a need to be with people of a like mind.
Having received a thorough, insightful, courteous critique of my first attempt at a novel here (along with crits of numerous short stories), I have nothing but praise for Critters as a concept and for the people who make it work. Thank you all.
This is such an awesome program!! Finally I have another webpage to look forward to everytime I go online (other than my eMail).
IMHO, I would not be able to improve my story-telling craft without Critters. I have only been a member for six months, but I knew nothing compared to the lessons from just a few submissions in Critters. Everyone in the genres should heap awards and honors on Aburt for his service to speculative fiction.
I never would have thought that an on-line critique group could help so much. I am consistantly amazed by the quality of the critiques, the helpfulness of the members and by the professional way Aburt runs the whole show. I honestly feel critters has helped me with my own writing, and the nice thing is I feel as if I can help others too.
What could I possibly say that hasn't already been said? This is the best thing to have happened to my writing!!! I hold a degree in Lit/Eng. because of the need to write and took all kinds of lit & writing classes and this is SOOOOOOO much better for getting me to looking at my work not as my "children" but as potential income. It reminds me of SF cons I used to attend, where I could rub elbows with published authors like Orsen Scott Card, Timothy Zahn, Michael P. Kube-McDowell, etc. Just the perfect atmosphere to hang out in and not hard to keep up with one critique/week. In fact, I have compared it to a new anthology of short fiction every week. Where else but here?!!!
This is a thank you note. All of us who have the guts, the adrenaline, the stamina, the bravery and bravado to win over the blank page deserve the consensus from fellow writers that know what it's like, and the gratitude from the rest that don't know what it's like but benefit a great deal from the solitary endeavor of those who wrapped in their solitude, unsolicited by any god and for whom the sole truth is that their work is love. Too often people forget that all walks of life intersect at point or another the great domain of writing. History is lived by man and dissected by writers, turned into stories by writers. Having you emailed me more than a nice word for the critiques that I've done, I want to thank you all from this virtual venue to which we all belong and tell you how pleased I was to see your lines and sometimes what's behind your lines where I occasionally placed humble suggestions. Luigi Belmonte
Jack M. Walter,
Critters is the best thing that ever happened to my writing and my creativity! My talents as a writer and a critic are improving at an astounding rate due to my participation in this group. I am just having my first story critiqued, and every critic's response is accurate, stimulating and very helpful. Best of all, it costs nothing to join! A special thanks to the Critter Captain, who does an excellent job of keeping all this together! Long live Critters!!
Critters is a superb workshop for writers of any level who wish to improve their craft and hone their skills. With members numbering in the thousands, it's also a great place to meet like-minded people. I met my best friend through this workshop...and we've been very happily married for two years. All hail Aburt!
Elizabeth Anne Ensley,
I have not had so much feedback -- or so much fun -- since the SFRT workshop on GEnie in 1993!
Critter is an exellent program that I have enjoyed working with although I haven't yet yet submitted a story of my own yet (I haven't had time to type it all out, coming soon though). I have been searching for a way to get an honest opinion of my stories.
David L. Erickson,
I've been with Critters for at least three years now and have found it indispensable during the editing process. It is nice to see that as my writing has improved I've garnered a following and I find myself looking for submission by other writers who've provided me with useful critiques, regardless of their level of experience. This is a great service and its FREE. Can't beat that for love or money.
Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance,
Aburt, you turned a Novelist into an Editor and added a couple more hats to the Self Made Man. I was satisfied with Raven Dance, the novel I learned the craft on. I was also satisfied that I'd always write novels a lot better than short stories, it's my natural length As I'm trying to make a living more like the Grand Old Pros who did it on several volumes a year, will probably only ship through opening chapters or problem chapters for review. (Hint to other novelists, I just got one where the author had neatly synopsized 'before this chapter' so well that it was no trouble at all reviewing the chapter as a chapter.)
I had never in my life found a writing group where the others were so skilled and talented. The range of quality in the stories is something I have to emphasize here. Some of these other Critters are way past publishable quality and would stand with the best of what's in print. We work in a very hard market. We are crazy people, working for years and years without getting paid on the off chance that maybe someday our art will sell and then months later we might get a tiny check. Every pro I ever met at a convention warned me about that and it's still true.
What I needed to become a successful anthology editor is right here at this site and I don't mind passing this idea along at all if any of the rest of you decide it's worth the trouble. What goes out with my name on it has to be as good as if it was one of my novels, and I fully expect about nine tenths of what goes into the Launchpad Anthology to be Crittered stories. I finally sent up the best of my own short stories, hoping the rest of the Critters will beat it into a shape comparable to my novels. I will cheerfully bump it from my anthology for a better story and suspect I'll do that because it's comparable to my wandering around for years thinking 'gee it would be fun to throw together a theatre group someday' and then tripping on the Royal Shakespearian Acting School in my backyard.
It works if you work it - plunge in and you won't regret it.
As the author of two published books, with another currently under review, I have found Critters to be a very cool place to hang out. The people here are helpful and constructive in their critiques, without being hurtful to the writers.
The range of talents here is simply amazing. I have even been moved to put together some books of short stories written by Critters. I will mention the Critters site in each of the books, as I feel it is a place that can help many writers become published authors. It helps the authors by letting them know what works and what doesn't work for the readers. This, in my opinion, is a great way for authors to write better than before.
Terrie Leigh Relf,
Critters Rocks! I've participated in quite a few online and face-to-face workshops over the years, and I would have to say that Critters provide more detailed critiques (I noticed others on the board said similar things. A consensus among writers--wow!). I feel that critters want to see their fellow writers succeed, and critique accordingly. I forget how long I've been a critter, a few years now, perhaps, but when I submit a piece, I always hope that it's good enough to just be critiqued by this impressive crowd. Which is why I probably haven't submitted much of late. I am my worst critic...
I recently had a short story reviewed by the Critters for the first time, and I cannot say enough about the professionalism of this group. The feedback I received was valuable, but more than that, it was supportive and encouraging. The whole process almost felt as good as getting a story published!
Thanks to Andrew Burt for putting together a site like this, and thnaks to all the Critters who make it run.
I was a member of Critters back in 1997. You've grown since then! I recently rejoined after a five year fiction hiatus. I submitted a story expecting maybe 5 critiques at the most. Imagine my amazement when I received 38 of them. Not to mention that each and every critique was thoughtful, insightful, and gave me some great ideas and pointers for the rewrite. Keep up the good work. I think I'll be sticking around.
I was a little blown away from the feedback on my 1st manuscript on Critters.
At last count I had over 25 responses. I've kinda found it hard to get back to each of them. Almost all of them offered informed and useful advice, many in lengthy detail. A broad mix of technical help, suggestions with scenes, plot and comments about general appeal. No all like the story but it didn't stop them from being helpful. There was a few humorous ones, but no one was curt in anyway.
Anyway, I figured you'd like to hear.
I just wanted to say, "Woohoo!" to aburt. I was really nervous about being critiqued, being one of those people who are always right. However, in just two days, I've received four kind, supportive, and helpful critiques, and I am now spreading the word of the wonder that is Critters.
Aburt is now one of my favorite writing angels. Although perhaps elves or, um, aliens would be more appropriate here.
I just started getting feedback on my first SF story ever. It's amazing! So many people have responded, confirming my suspicions, pointing out things I missed, and suggesting new approaches, that I can hardly believe it.
I never thought that I would get so much support and encouragement from an online critique group. It's much better than the critiques I used to get in college, because:
A. I can write SF without being flooded with "I don't understand" crits from non-fans. B. I can critique an unlimited number of other SF/F/H stories and learn from others' mistakes and successes. C. I can rewrite based on what potential readers really think instead of relying on vague form rejection letters.
Thank you Critters!
Critters has been a life-saver in regards to my F&SF writing. The many members are serious writers, and their critiques of my stories, and my critiques of their's (which makes one really think about writing), have really improved my writing (other than this long, roundabout sentence). I expect to be active with them for a long time to come. -Larry Hodges, active member, SFWA
I just submitted my first story to Critters, and got back 19 outstanding critiques. I specifically asked people to be frank rather than polite, but what I got was courteous frankness, and a whole lot of helpful input. This not only gave me valuable input for my re-write, it also encouraged me to start sending the story out to prospective publishers. This is a great service!
PS--I've also learned a ton just by critiquing other people's stories.
Stephen L. Moody,
I am a new member but I'm thoroughly enjoying it! Some of the stories I've read are really very good and I've gotten a lot of ideas for my own work. Not ideas for stories but for how I present the story, develop characters and move the action along.
The only thing I think could be better is the layout of the website. Especially the main page. Maybe it's just me but I don't think it's laid out very well. It's hard to locate the links I'm looking for although now I know from experience where most of them are. But I do think it could be organized better.
[Aburt note: Your wish is...! Complete site redesign just finished.]
Lucy Cohen Schmeidler,
When I have no time, or am otherwise unable to keep up with my own writing, I find the critiquing process, and the stories available through Critters, to be a great source of inspiration. One of the unadvertized benefits is being one of the first to discover some major talent before he's had anything published, before the world knows he exists. Two such for me are Dave Freer and Carl Frederick. I think I'm onto another now, but only time will tell.
I would just like to say thank you to you and all the critters who worked on my first submission. I was extremely impressed by the level of critique, the attention to detail. Those who liked my play/story told me why and were extremely supportive; those who I think didn't like it were kind and honest and gave excellent reasons why not, and had some very good points on improving the work. Even those who were in the middle had excellent things to say! > You have fostered a very high and decent level of critique, which is rare. Thank you so much!
We give freely, we receive freely. We give abundantly, we receive abundantly.
I joined solely to receive feedback about my stories. Soon, I found much more important reasons to participate.
The feedback I have received has contributed comparatively little to my stories and my writing ability. Helping other writers explore their work has been far more beneficial to me as a writer. Perhaps it works in reverse for some writers and works both ways for others.
Other benefits include enormous personal and professional satisfaction. I get to play cheerleader to other writers, most of whom don't how good their skills are and how good their stories are, some of who are the future giants of the genre. I get to read the future gems of science fiction before an editor or competition committee discovers them. I get to polish gems with a lot of potential. Frankly, I get very little satisfaction from critiquing stories will little publishing potential, but I do it out of duty (and, I confess, to keep up my credits).
The biggest drawback is watching so many excellent stories languish in such a large slushpile purgatory. So many writers don't receive the professional recognition and financial reward they deserve for such quality material. So many science fiction fans are deprived of the additional enjoyment and discovery they seek. No high circulation vehicles except for the big two, so many small time outfits coming and going like fireflies. Yea verily, it's exceedingly competitive out there. This is why so many of my critiques end with: If I were a science fiction editor, I would definitely be interested in this story; or: Ignore those rejection notices and happy hunting.
A minor disadvantage is the technical requirements. Being pathetically technology challenged, I find the submission requirements tedious and exasperating. But the Critters Captain is always there to intervene and my stories and critiques always get through.
I spend several hours a week on Critters. I don't get paid for my time, but you can't put a price on participation in this workshop.
Critters been a great resource for me to get a large amount of great critiques done by other writers in a timely fashion, but I've also learned a lot about the craft of writing by critiquing other people's work. It's a great opportunity to learn what makes good writing and a good story work. It's a lot like having a part time job as an editor, a great experience for any writer.
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