Writer Wednesday – Editing Others to Improve Yourself

Today’s post is going to be a simple one, but extremely useful. It is a bit of advice that I ignored for a number of years until first entering the Writers of the Future Contest. Anyone who enters gets involved in their mailing list and one of the first things I received referred me to a site known as Critters.org.

Something about the way they spoke of it prompted me to follow through. I think it was something to do with how many of their successful winners had been involved with the site. As it turns out, it is a critiquing site for writers of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror. The idea is that you offer meaningful critiques of the works of others and can occasionally have your own work critiqued.

It seems at first like a rough deal. There are strong limits on how often you can get critiqued in relation to how often you have to do them. Even so, there is an unexpected value to editing the works of others. The more you help others with their stories, the more you help yourself.

You start to notice mistakes in your own work that you never caught before. Beyond that, you have to think hard about how plots are structured and what does or doesn’t work in a story. It is nearly impossible for your own work not to improve by the nature of helping others improve their own work.

Even if you don’t write in one of those genres, take the time to check out Critters.org and look around. They do have a few links to other sites for the genres beyond their own focus. Also hunt around online for whatever sort of writing you prefer. Likely there is a member-only free peer review site for your favored genre. It is well worth your time and effort.

What are your thoughts?

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