10 Tips for Posting at Writing Forums

Jam & Judicious Advice

I want to post a story (poem, article…). What do I need to know?

  1. Read the posting guidelines before posting at a new forum. Leave a space between paragraphs; it makes it easier to read online. Spell-check your post.
  2. If you’re posting an excerpt from a work-in-progress, say so, and ask for a general critique, not a nit-picky one. NPC on an unfinished first draft is a waste of time for both the critiquer and the writer. What you really want is encouragement (yes, really!). Get your first draft down before you start asking others to tear it apart.

I posted yesterday (or 2 days ago or…). Why hasn’t anyone replied?

  1. Everyone (including the forum hosts) who critiques your writing is volunteering their time. Realize that their own writing, other work, family and friends, etc. come before critiquing your work. Have patience. It may take a week, or even two, for everyone who plans to critique your piece to do so. Also remember that hosts are there to keep the forum running smoothly, not to critique each and every piece of work posted.
  2. In general, shorter posts and posts requesting general critiques will receive quicker responses than long posts and posts requesting nit-picky critiques. If you post 10,000 words and ask for NPC, don’t be surprised when you get fewer critiques than the person who asked for GC on a 300-word flash fiction piece. Decide what you really want/need: a quick reply, or a detailed response.
  3. How often are you requesting critiques? If you’re posting more than one piece per week for critique, reconsider. People need time to see your post, read it, think about it, then write up a critique. If you post a second or third piece within the week, people who were considering or in the midst of giving piece #1 a critique may decide not to bother because they feel you’ve already moved on. A week isn’t a long time in the greater scheme of things. Pace yourself.
  4. Consider the busy-ness of the forum in question. Is there one story waiting for a critique or twenty? Realize that it’ll take longer for any one person (i.e. the forum host) to get back to you on a busier forum. Everyone needs to chip in. Which leads us to #7:
  5. A critique forum only works if everyone who requests critiques also gives them. While waiting for your piece to be critiqued, take the time to critique others. It’s the best way to show your appreciation for the critiques you will receive and to garner more (or faster) critiques of your work in the future. If you’re new to critiquing, check out our critiquing guidelines.

Someone critiqued my story! I’m going to change everything she hated right now.

  1. STOP. Don’t rely on a single critique to shape your story. Wait till you have three or four responses and then compare them. Something one person may hate, another may love. Look for commonalities between critiques.
  2. After you’ve had a piece critiqued, wait a few days (at least). It’s best to let the initial sting of criticism wear off before editing. Time will also help you resist the temptation to try to please every critiquer by incorporating every tidbit of advice. A critique is a guideline, not a rule. Use what feels right; discard the rest.

Wow, this place is great. I don’t know how I can thank you!

  1. If you like Toasted Cheese and want to give something back, please consider volunteering as a co-host at one of the forums.We’d like to see two co-hosts for each forum, with each individual co-hosting at no more than two forums. That way each forum would get the attention it deserves and no one person would be overwhelmed by his/her hosting responsibilities. When we’re short hosts, Toasted Cheese staff each have to cover multiple forums, and it’s not always possible for us to respond as quickly or as often as we’d like. The forums are just a small part of what we do at TC, and other aspects of the site sometimes take priority. Speaking of other aspects of the site… Is there a writing topic you’d like to expound on? We welcome queries for our Absolute Blank section (articles on writing). Do you have finished work slumbering on your hard drive? Our quarterly e-zine takes submissions year-round.

How to Copy & Paste

See: How to Copy, Cut, and Paste for Beginners


Common Acronyms & Abbreviations

See: English internet slang