Saturday, July 25, 2009

Workshop -- Queues

I was replying to a comment by Charles on my last post (about the Critique Circle workshop site) and mentioned the queue system. I got into explaining how it all works, but thought others might be interested too.

Stories or chapters you want critiqued get posted to a queue. Each queue is a list of pieces up for critique. How many pieces get put into the new week's "current" queue depends on a formula based on how many pieces are waiting and how many critiques that queue got last week; the idea is to keep things balanced so pieces move up reasonably fast, but without flooding the current queue so much that the number of critiques per story goes way down.

There are current queues (the pieces up for critique this week) which show when you go right to the queue page; upcoming queues, which is the list of pieces waiting to move into a future current queue; and older queues, which are the archives. The set of public queues include the Newbie Queue, where every new person has to post their first story or chapter, plus a list of genre queues -- General, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Women's/Romance/Chick-Lit, Children's/YA, Mystery/Suspense/Horror and Erotica.

If you post one of your stories to a queue, the soonest it'll come up is the next critiquing week, and it might take two or three. You can help it along by doing more critiques on the current stories in that queue, nudging the formula to let more stories out next week, giving yours a better shot at moving up. Your story in particular doesn't move because you're critiquing personally, but anyone doing a lot of critiques will make more slots in that queue available next week.

You can also spend more credits (which you accumulate by critiquing) to move your story up, but it takes quite a lot. I was reading the forum and people were talking about spending like 15 or 18 credits to bump their story up to the top of the list, when it only costs 3 to dump it in at the end of the list. I haven't seen anyone complaining that people who bump their stories are keeping others from progressing normally, though, so I guess they have some sort of mechanism to prevent that.

There are also private queues, which are owned by individuals and are invite-only. A private queue can either let only the owner post and invited members critique, or it can let every member both post and critique. This lets people set up a chosen group of friends to critique their novel or whatever, or a smaller closed workshop group. Members of a private queue can also post to and critique on the public queues, and you can be a member of as many private queues as you want.

I'm probably missing some subtleties or refinements, but I'm pretty sure this is the basics. :)



Charles Gramlich said...

that private queu sounds like something that can combine the best of online and in person critiquing. With more open online critiquing you run the risk of trolls.

Angie said...

Charles -- I agree, they seem to have mechanisms to support pretty much any sort of critique mode you might prefer. [nod]

On the trolling thing, they seem to have a good handle on that. Accounts are free but you do have to have an account to see any of the stories, much less post a critique. A new member's first critique has to be vetted by a staffer before it's released, so you can't just sign up, post a slam to someone or a bunch of someones, and then run away giggling. And so far I haven't seen anyone mention getting a nasty critique, so there don't seem to be many people who are willing to sign up and play the game long enough to be able to post a critique directly to a writer, just to be nasty about it.

If I do run into anything like that, I'll let you know, though. It wouldn't take that much effort -- just one serious critique to get past the vetting stage. The question is whether any trolls care enough to do that, or whether they'd just go have their fun somewhere else where they can get more immediate gratification. We'll see.