“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” Anaїs Nin’s words convey the purpose of many writers, but that writing process is not always as easy as a passionate swipe of the keyboard. The work is tedious, tiresome, and often involves multiple rewrites to end up with something that is (hopefully) close to what was intended. To be a writer takes skill, perseverance, and analytical editing of one’s work, but this task is much more difficult without the support and wise advice of others who have walked the same road. While writing for public consumption can be accomplished entirely by individual efforts, it is a world of difference when quality help is enlisted.
Help is Found!
Online communities and workshops are available across the web and do more than provide digital socialization. With the help of platforms like Scribophile (affectionately nicknamed “Scrib“), seasoned authors and novel newbies can gain insight and critiques from other writers to help improve their talents and find valuable, professional information on sharpening their literary skillset. Founded in 2008, Scribophile is an all-inclusive community and multi-skill workshop where novelists, poets, essayists, and the like, can post thoughtful suggestions to others and have their work reviewed as well. The greatest perks of this specific network focus on the common good of the group and the active, individual support of fellow writers in their various projects.
Beta-readers are always at the ready to review writings in a safe and honest environment. For authors, beta-readers can help boost confidence tremendously by offering a disinterested party’s genuine feedback. One’s adoring mother might be able to provide help with a review, but it is much more beneficial to have someone in the general public give their 100% honest take on a piece. Critical feedback is crucial to understanding how the composition will come across to the masses, and quality insight can help convey public opinion better than a well-meaning friend or relative.
Touted as one of the “largest and most active writing groups online,” Scribophile gives a brief summary of their offerings:
- Post your writing to get detailed, insightful feedback from other writers on how to improve it
- Chat and discuss with other writers from around the world in our busy writing forums
- Network with like-minded writers in our special-purpose writing groups
- Enter free writing contests to win great prizes
- And educate yourself on the finer points of the craft of writing in our writing academy and writing blog
One of Scribophile’s most brilliant selling points is their currency. Karma Points are the bait and reward that entices readers and writers to give extensive feedback, engage with other writers, and simply be involved across the board. These free points are earned by posting critiques (the lengthier, the more points you can earn), others reacting positively to reviews left for them, sending virtual gifts, etc. Points are easy to acquire and easy to spend; it only requires five karma points to post new work for critique. A writer will also frequently stumble across other members who generously give points as gifts from their own excess, just to help a writer out.
The “Writing Academy” section of the site is where priceless information is stored. It is a “collection of free writing resources produced by members of the Scribophile community who are writing professionals.” Subjects vary across a broad spectrum of categories. These include articles on writing effective critiques, using different narrative perspectives, composing screenplays, publishing, copyright infringement, and more. Scrib provides a plethora of opportunities for writers to improve and hone their craft.
Scribophile abounds in valuable resources and friendly interactions, all in the free version of the platform. With the premium upgrade, bonuses are added to the already vast array of benefits. Some of these benefits are:
- Account limits lifted
- Ways to get more and improved feedback
- Control over who sees your writing
- Publication Showcase
As a poet, playwright, and novelist, Mark Guerin had a personal interest in the appeal of Scribophile and composed a review for Dead Darlings: Everything Novel. His conclusive opinion highlights the many positive features available for writers in the Scrib community. A favorite of Guerin is what Scribophile calls inline critiques, allowing the critic to “highlight text, suggest deletions and directly insert comments which highlight to green to differentiate them from the author’s text. The resulting screen is much easier to read than a commented Word doc with all its arrows and bubbles.”
The depth of analysis that critics can utilize when reviewing the work of others allows a more personalized and professional experience. Guerin completes his praise of the site by stating,
Scribophile offers me enough of the critical insights I need to spot and revise problems in my writing, and more importantly, to keep me motivated. Writers need readers and Scribophile provides them.
A key element in the website’s feedback system is what Alex Cabal, founder of Scribophile, likes to call the Spotlight. On Author Secret, Cabal explains that the Spotlight system is a way to guarantee timely feedback for writings that members post. A limited number of pieces are highlighted in this section for maximum karma earnings. He assures members that “your work is guaranteed to enter a spotlight for a minimum of critiques… Once your work reaches a certain number of critiques, it’s removed from the Spotlight to make room for another work.” This system, along with karma points, guarantee feedback for every single submission.
Scribophile is more than a friendly group of writers; it is a centralized storehouse of helpful information, contests, networking, and invaluable critiques to help with the daunting tasks of writing and editing. It is one thing to experience life initially through the creation of a literary work; it is quite another to re-live it through the chiseling away of what hinders the development of the masterpiece. Having other hands available to help with this sculpting process enables the creation to stand stronger and more beautiful than it would with only one set of tools. Countless writers are willing and able to take that journey alongside a comrade through community platforms and workshops like Scribophile. With a simple sign-in, all the help a writer could need is available for the taking.