Tuesday, August 02, 2011

100 sites for fiction writers: #36 - Scribophile

This is an ongoing series looking at websites that can be of help to fiction writers with their craft and career.


With this article in the "100 Sites for Fiction Writers" series, I thought I would do a little something different. Instead of me telling you what I think of the site, in this case Scribophile, I thought I'd let Alex Cabal tell you. He's the head honcho over at Scribophile, and here are the results of my e-mail interview with him.

For those who don’t know, what exactly is Scribophile?

Scribophile is a writing group of tens of thousands of writers who take their writing seriously. It's a place where writers can post their writing and get real, constructive, and lengthy critiques and reviews, and discuss the craft of writing with other dedicated writers.

What does Scribophile bring to writers that they can’t find elsewhere?

There are lots of critique sites and writer's groups out there on the Internet. The problem is that with many of them, the critiques you get are just pats on the back, or a few sentences about how the "critiquer" liked this or that. In short, useless for serious writers who want to improve.

Scribophile is a group that values genuinely constructive and detailed critiques. The average critique given at Scribophile is 374 words long, and we have many professional freelance editors contributing critiques too. If you visit the homepage you'll see a counter showing that right now we have about 93,000 critiques served for 14,000 works, which works out to something like an average of 7 critiques per piece of writing.

We also have an extremely active forum discussion environment. Other writers sites have forums that can be slow or even desolate. The Scribophile forums see thousands of people talking about writing and life every day. We also host free writing contests with cash prizes every month.

How can Scribophile help writers with their craft and writing career?

Writing is a lonely obsession, and it's not something easily mastered. Participating in the community at Scribophile teaches writers how to improve their writing not just through the helpful critiques they receive, but through learning how to deconstruct the writing of others through the critiques they themselves give.

There are writers of all levels here -- from beginners to authors that have been published by big houses like Penguin or Random House to freelance editors looking to help out promising beginners. It's an environment independent of the influence of big-name publishers filled with writers who genuinely love to write.

The great part is that you don't have to be a great critiquer to join. We're a learning environment, and that includes learning how to critique.  We welcome anybody who has an open mind, a curious attitude, and a willingness to improve themselves.

Who are some of the people behind Scribophile? Is there a team, or just one or two people?

Scribophile is mainly run by me, with the help from a small team of volunteer moderators, and with a small staff of professional writers who post tips, tricks, and advice about writing to our blog.

If you need help, I'm the guy who always gets your e-mail and you'll know that there's someone there who'll always respond.  I personally respond to every email that comes my way, sometimes within minutes if you catch me at the computer.

How did Scribophile get started? Who came up with the idea, and how?

Scribophile got started about three and a half years ago. I'm a web developer by trade, so I built the site on my own over the course of a year. Over the years it's evolved greatly, and today it only loosely resembles what was released so long ago.

I'm a horrible writer, but I love reading and literature. I wanted Scribophile to be a place that could nurture writers without exploiting them or wasting their time, and allow them to mature into artists who could produce pieces that I and others would love to read.

Are there any future plans/changes/updates in the works for Scribophile? If so, can you comment on some of them?

As anyone who's been a member for more than a few weeks can tell you, I'm constantly tweaking the site to try to improve the experience. There's a big list of planned updates, and I often implement member requests too. Just recently I released an update to greatly improve our inline critiquing system, which has proven to be one of the most popular ways to write a critique out there.  Directly next on my to-do list is letting members save critiques in progress, which is a feature that's been long-requested and is far overdue.

Though ostensibly a site for writers, would Scribophile also be a good fit for those who just like to read and review?

Absolutely. The site revolves around critiques and reviews, and reviews from interested readers are a great way to provide relevant feedback for writers. Anybody is welcomed to join!

Closing comments

It sounds to me as if Scribophile would be a great site for those seeking critiques and reviews of their writing work, especially for beginners who often have a difficult time finding beta readers and the like. Still, it also sounds like old pros could have a good time at Scribophile and could potentially pick up some first readers.

Alex, thanks for the interview, and good luck to you and everyone at Scribophile.


Charles Gramlich said...

Although I have a real life group this is good to know for me to refer folks too who need a group but can't meet with us.

Ty Johnston said...

Charles, that's much how I feel. Seems I'm always hearing from other writers needing a critique group.

Anonymous said...

My experience: It's a pretty nice crowd. Offensive posts are usually promptly deleted. Nice, regular contests with cash prizes is a nice feature.

Weaknesses: Weak leadership is likely responsible for the notable shortage of mid or high level writers.

Such sites are made of a very small no. of "teachers" and a huge no. of "learners." Those who are more advanced and doing the free teaching that carries the site move on when there is zero appreciation or difference in trust than what is accorded the most illiterate troublemaker. Experience and achievement is not valued or courted. As a result, quality is low, unpublished writers giving dubious advice. More social than for serious students of the craft.