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Short Story Critiques

A couple of weeks ago a follower of this blog contacted me for advice on obtaining a critique for a short story she was working on. Understandably, she didn’t want to pay a fortune and nor she did she want to risk the story being hijacked by someone else.

For a short piece of work like this the critiques offered by competitions are reasonably priced. These include:

  • Writer’ Forum - a monthly competition with an open theme and maximum word length of 3,000. The critique is an extra £5 on top of the entry fee. I’ve used this service once and received a one page report covering: Presentation, Title, Opening, Dialogue, Characterisation, Overall. It pointed out my overuse of clichés, incorrect use of the word ‘indiscrete’, problems with characterisation and the fact that the ending was too ‘sudden’. So for £5 I had a lot to work on to improve the story before it went off to another competition.
  • Meridian Writing run quarterly competitions and offer a basic critique for an extra £3. This is usually an A4 page in length. They are also offering critiques for noncompetition entries with the fee varying on whether a basic or detailed report is required and the length of the story.
  • Flash 500 Competition is another quarterly open themed competition but the word limit is 500. The optional critique is £10. These competitions are run by Lorraine Mace and she also offers critiques on non-competition pieces (any length and including articles and non-fiction books), see here for more details.

A subscription to Freelance Market News includes a free critique on 3,000 words of prose or 120 lines of poetry. It costs £29 for 11 issues and includes free monthly writing competitions plus 20% off entry to The Writers’ Bureau Short Story and Poetry Competition.

Does anyone else know of a critiquing service that is good value?

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  1. Sue
    April 5, 2011 at 6:44 am

    The South African Writers’ Circle offers it’s members the opportunity to enter it’s monthly competitions for a nominal fee and a crit. The competitions vary from poetry to short stories to plays. Their website is: http://sawriters.org.za/live/.

    • April 5, 2011 at 8:06 am

      Sue – thanks very much for the information. I’ve just had a look at the South African Writers’ Circle website and I wish I was able to take part!
      If any of you live in South Africa – please take a look at the activities this writers’ circle has to offer.
      Stop press! Sue has just let me know that the Circle welcomes overseas members too (see her comment below) so you can get involved with the competitions (and receive a critique) wherever you are in the world.

  2. Sue
    April 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Hi Sally
    They have overseas members too – if someone wants to join they should contact membership person (details on the website).

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