Critters Workshop is an online critique group for writers of fantasy, horror, and science fiction. The service is free, membership is free. All writers need to do to get a critique is critique the work of other authors.
How Critters.org works
Writers put their works in the critters.org queue, where it rests in cyber limbo for about one month. The story then moves to the top of the queue, where it sits ready for potential critique by thousands of writers.
Of course, these many thousands won’t all pick up the story and critique. Several authors go into the pot of ready-to-critique works. Critters – as members are known – pick and choose which works they prefer to critique.
Short stories vs novels and chapters
Both short stories and novels are accepted into the queue, as are novel chapters. The review format does vary for novels. Critters ask for “dedicated readers,” and those who volunteer receive the entire work and double credit.
Critters.org provides information to help critters choose which works to read. Short stories and chapters list alongside their word counts. Critters choose which stories interest them by subject matter and length. They also see how many critiques the work has already received.
Critters.org requires in-depth critiques. Critiques under 200 words count for only half a credit. In general, one substantial critique a week earns the required number of credits for a critique in return.
Works that receive few critiques, or no critiques, go into a list sent out to all critter, asking for more attention.
Critters do not have to critique works they don’t enjoy reading. Unlike face-to-face critique groups, critters can begin a work and put it aside if it doesn’t interest them. The author never knows, and the critter is saved from a painful read.
Anyone can join Critters.org. The group consists of beginners without a single credit to seasoned novelists.
Doing ten critiques in a week earns a special pass you can use at any time for immediate placement in the queue.
Authors have no idea who is critiquing their work. Files can’t be viewed by nonmembers, but the membership process consists of giving a name, an email address, and writing a short blurb to prove a real person seeks membership.
Only one work can be placed in the queue at a time. That means no more than one critique a month, unless a critter is willing to critique ten works a week.
Critters does have a system protecting authors, such as a no sharing with others policy and required log-in each time. Also, Copyright law is strongly in favor of original authors. Still, some authors may not be comfortable submitting work for any member in the group of thousands to access.
Some members of Critters.org provide solid feedback. Others rely too much on Microsoft Word’s flawed spell and grammar check program. The unspoken rule is that online critiques vary in quality and depth, despite rules governing word counts and diplomacy.
Critters.org offers a critique resource for those writers without a local critique group. For those who do have a regular group of writers providing feedback, a scouring by fresh eyes might uncover flaws hidden by too much familiarity with the author.