So the site I use for reviews on my writing, ReviewFuse, is offering up free paid-user time for people who write overall critiques of their site. Of course I'm all over that, I've been curious what the paid features are like.
I joined ReviewFuse because I realized about a year ago that writing was a lot of fun, and I was at least marginally good at it. My stuff was good enough that a handful of RL friends were always bugging me for updates, and my mom really liked the parts I let her read. However, it dawned on me pretty quickly that maybe it would be a good idea to seek out feedback from people who weren't friends or relatives. A google search turned up ReviewFuse, a site that works on a "feedback for feedback" premise. You write critiques of other peoples' work in exchange for receiving critiques about your own work. Overall, I've been pretty happy with the site. Obviously, there are a few things I particularly like and a few things I'm not so crazy about.
What I like about ReviewFuse:
-anonymity is a good thing on a site like this. A lot of writing sites I've viewed have a much more "social" basis, and that gets to be an issue as you wonder just how honest people are being and how "nice" they're being. The fact that on RF, you don't know these people at all beyond their handle on the screen and a few details on their profile means that you can be much assured of their honesty. You can't beat getting feedback from near-strangers so far as brutal honesty goes.
-the tabbed reviews. A lot of people are just not good at inline commenting; either they inject too much of their own weird suggestions ("this story would be awesome if these two characters fell in love!") or else they just correct minor grammar errors and leave it at that. Having tabs like "character development", "setting", "dialog", etc, helps steer reviewers in the right direction and make sure you get some use out of the reviews.
-Reviewer matching. RF allows your review recipients to score you on how helpful your review was to them, and you get an overall reviewer score. Based on how good your score, you get matched with other reviewers. This? Is great. My first couple of reviews on the site were from people who were rated "Fair", and their reviews were pretty-much worthless. After writing a few reviews of my own I got a "great" rating for myself, now I get feedback from better reviewers and it's much more helpful.
-Content filtering when matching reviewers. RF allows poetry, but as a prose writer I don't have poems landing in my review inbox. This is another good idea, because I know virtually nothing about poetry and would have nothing useful to offer a poet. I think a lot of prose writers are probably in the same boat, so this filtering is a very good idea.
But of course, there are some things that don't thrill me quite so much. Things ReviewFuse could improve:
-Very young teenagers are allowed on the site. I understand that RF wants to help everyone, but knowing that your submissions may be read by 14-year-olds severely limits what you can upload. The vast majority of mainstream published fiction, aside from the YA genre, is not suitable for 14-year-olds to read. By allowing kids so young to use the site, you're limiting authors who don't write YA a *lot*. My suggestion to fix this would be to allow users under 16 to read only submissions tagged "YA".
-I'd like it if there was a better system in place for getting multi-chapter stories critiqued. As it now, you get a grab bag of reviewers. They still have a lot of useful things to say, but having the same reviewers read each chapter would be a huge improvement - it would make things easier for both the writer and the reviewer, because sometimes as a reviewer I get Chapter 11 of something and end up really struggling to come up with useful feedback. My suggestion would be some sort of system that allows writers to submit their stories as multi-chapter works and request the same reviewers. It would take longer for the reviews to come in, I'm sure, but I think the benefit of having the same people reading your chapters would be really worth it.
Those are really my only two gripes to the site. Overall, I like ReviewFuse and I've gotten some very useful feedback from it. If you're a writer and feel like trying it out, here it is:
And to the site admins, I hope my input was useful :)
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