Rey Digital Writing Workshop
overcoming serious server problems from about a year ago, the Del Rey Online
Writing Workshop is back. This
workshop was my first introduction to the world of online writing communities.
A year ago when I began posting chapters of my WIP on the Del Rey Online
Writing Workshop (DROWW), I was pleased, though occasionally annoyed, by the
workshop format. The crits I
received weren't always good, but I was still disappointed when DROWW went
I first received an email from the workshop coordinator for DROWW, Ellen Kay
Harris, I was a bit surprised. Curious,
I signed back up. Because I had
participated in the original workshop, signing up was a bit of an adventure. I didn't remember my original user ID or password, so I had
to create a new one, which the DROWW database did not like.
After four usernames, I finally got into the workshop, and was
disappointed almost immediately.
of the features of the old workshop that I did not like was the rating system.
I had hoped the new workshop would have a new critiquing format, but it
didn't. The rating system was still
alive and well. The system
works on a scale of 1-5 in five different categories: professionalism of
writing, setting, character development, plot credibility, and dialogue.
Based on the number of crits, each submission will score a cumulative
rating. I suppose that ratings are
a good way to see how well a piece is received.
The problem I have is that they don't reflect the quality of a piece at
all. I've read pieces on DROWW that
have overall ratings of 3's but are well written, well plotted, and well on
their way to publication. I've read
pieces with overall ratings of 4.5-5, that I suspect will never be good enough
to see print.
could live with the rating system, if the written critiques reflected the
ratings. More often than not, I see
stories receive 3's in the plot category, yet the critiques have no comments
about the plot. I've seen stories
receive 5's in the professionalism and have two pages of grammar comments.
I often receive 3's for character development, but I almost never get
comments on what is wrong with my characterization.
In my opinion, this defeats the purpose of the workshop to "help you
grow as a writer." Most of the
crits I have received have been shallow, short, and not all helpful.
DROWW does have some nice features. My
favorite is the requirement that each participant has to earn at least 3 review
points before a submission can be posted. Each
story reviewed earns a participant 1 review point, unless the piece has no
reviews at all, then it earns 2 points. When
I first joined, I was given three review points to post one submission and try
out the workshop. After that I
would have to crit more pieces in order to post anything new. The nice thing about this feature is it ensures that pieces
receive at least one crit, often two, without much effort from the poster.
The catch is there are so many pieces listed on DROWW (approximately
2000) that in order to receive more than one or two crits, a writer must review
other submissions. Doesn't sound so
bad? The problem I've discovered is
that even those people who promise to return crit, usually don't.
For me, this means that for every six or seven stories I've reviewed, I
might have received two crits. Because
of this, reviewing on DROWW can quickly become a full time job, something I
don't have time for.
nice feature is the actual submission process.
DROWW lists pieces by type, short story, fantasy chapter, sci-fi chapter,
or a mix of sci-fantasy. The writer
is also given a checklist to tell what stage a submission is in, early draft,
middle draft, or polished draft. Comments
about the submission can be posted in the "Author's comments" box.
The story or chapter is pasted into the submission window.
When the submit button is pressed a preview screen will come up that will
show both the story as it will appear on the workshop and also in the submission
screen. It's a great way to check
for HTML tags that aren't closed, add spaces between paragraphs, etc.
Another click and the submission process is over.
It's quick, simple, efficient, and a great improvement over the original
the best feature of the DROWW is the Writer's Resource page, which has links to
other writing related sites are listed by types, organizations, other workshops
etc. A few of the links, such as
the one for Inkspot, are out of date, but most are working.
If DROWW isn't for you, then perhaps this resource page can lead you
workshop is free. If you are looking for a forum to use as a sounding board for
how a story might be received, DROWW is a good place to start.
If you are a serious writer looking for ways to improve, DROWW is not the
place for you.
Rey's workshop can be found at: http://delreyonlinewritingshop.com