Anna Gutmann's picture
Anna Gutmann from Ohio is reading American Gods October 14, 2014 - 4:30pm

Another discussion thread spurred me to start this one.

I'm an active member of the Writer's Workshop community, and lately I've been seeing comments or getting PMs expressing the wish for a better rewards system for reviewers.

My reasoning for wanting a better rewards system is based on two things: (1) Reviewers put forth a lot of effort into commenting on my submissions. I honestly don't think three points is enough for people who spend an hour or more giving me line by line editing. This plays to both sides of the field, too, because sometimes I feel like three points isn't enough when I myself have done a review on a piece that takes over an hour to produce an LBL and critique overview. I'm not going to stop reviewing because of this, of course, but it'd be nice to get more points. (2) From the submitter's standpoint, three points takes a long time to accumulate into the 15 points you need for a submission. Not everyone is active enough to submit weekly, which means there may not even be five submissions per week, thus reducing the amount of submissions a submitter can review and delaying when he or she can next submit. 

My suggestion would be to shift the points so that a Very Helpful nets 5 points, a Helpful nets 3 points, and a Not Helpful nets 0 to 1 point(s).

I'm guessing not everyone feels the same, which is why I've started this discussion: to find out just how many of us think the points system should be more generous versus those who think it should stay the same. Maybe it's not as big of an issue as I've noticed it to be, or perhaps it quite possibly is! Would love to hear others' thoughts.

Jenn Collins's picture
Jenn Collins from Wisconsin, USA is reading Spunk and Bite October 15, 2014 - 5:15am

I will admit to being guilty of passing over reviewing longer works by writers I don't "know" because of how time consuming the can be, with no more "reward" than reviewing a shorter piece.  Upping the reward or offering a larger reward for reviewing a longer piece would make a difference.

I feel like it takes a long time to accumulate the 15 points.  And it may be for that reason that the workshop feels kind of slow at times - I can work my butt off on reading and reviewing and it still takes a solid week or more to be able to submit.


TheScrivener's picture
TheScrivener from Seattle is reading short stories October 15, 2014 - 10:03pm

I supposed the argument could be made that if you only had to read three pieces before you could submit one of your own, that people would review fewer pieces. I don't actually think that though.

From what I have observed---people get in the workshop around the time they want to submit. So at any one time there are a subset of people reviewing work who are themselves submitting it. Hoping for a tit for tat. Does not seem that too many people just read and critique just to do it--unless it is someone whose work they follow.  

I do wonder if the workshop would be more active with the proposed points scheme above? Maybe a bonus point for pieces > 3000 words? 

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland October 15, 2014 - 11:48pm

I typically write alot of Flash and shorter short stories less than 3000 words, so when I review I tend to review the same length stories. And the reviews do take me on average 2 and a half hours. So yeah, I spent tons of hours earning my points. I haven't reviewed in a while because I've built a good group of peer reviewers outside of the workshop and we don't need points or money or anything. But I still do enjoy feedback from hear occasionally so I'll use my old points to throw something in every now and again. I think I would review more often if the point system were better. I think longer works should deserve more points. I also feel like 3 stories to submit one seems more fair. Or just lessen the ammount to submit to ten maybe. I think the activity and participation in the workshop would increase rather than decrease with a more lenient point system.

Adam Jenkins's picture
Adam Jenkins from Bracknell, England is reading RCX Magazine (Issue 1 coming soon) October 16, 2014 - 12:29am

I suppose it all depends on what you want from the workshop. When I joined, it was so I could take part in the first Battle, and I'm not someone who churns out stories or chapters very often. I signed up for six months instead of one just so I could read other submissions, and learn from what others were doing. I have to say that I found 3 points for a critique perfectly fair. Five stories read to post one of your own felt (and feels) right to me. The workshop should be a collaborative place, and you should get out of it what you put in. It's undoubtedly harder for those submitting novel chapters, so perhaps any change to the points system should reflect that.

voodoo_em's picture
voodoo_em from England is reading All the books by Ira Levin October 16, 2014 - 2:04am

Even my quickest critiques take an hour. Most take two and a half. With longer stories getting closer to maybe four hours over a couple of days. I think to give a good review that's just how it goes. The points system never bothered me because back when I started I used to review like crazy just for the fun of it. (Critiquing others work does so much for your own self editing). Thus I accumulated a huge backlog of points and having enough to submit wasn't ever an issue for me.

Doing five reviews for a story is fine so long as you get five decent reviews back. The thing about three per story could mean that because more stories are getting posted, the front page board changes quicker and stories that may not be that old slip on to page 2 sooner than they would have and don't get as much visibility for reviews. Maybe. Did that make sense?

Although my experience is only with short stories rather than excepts :)

Kacie Cunningham's picture
Kacie Cunningham from Indiana is reading too much to keep this updated October 16, 2014 - 9:05am

I agree that there should be an extra 2 or 3 points for works over 3k words. I know I have posted things that were VERY long and I'd have given ten points if I could have ... but I also feel that it takes SO long to get those 15 points that breaking it up into smaller installments wouldn't have really worked for me either, since it hurts the continuity of a chapter. 

Critiques take a long time, and those of us submitting longer pieces need a way to provide more points to those who bother to take the time to reviewers under this circumstance. 

Repo Kempt's picture
Repo Kempt from Nova Scotia October 16, 2014 - 10:04am

I've never had a problem with the point system, but I like the idea of a couple bonus points for stories over a certain length. I always appreciate when people take the time to give critiques for things that are around 4000 words. I have gotten a number of critiques where people went above and beyond that were worth a couple bonus points!  

R.Moon's picture
R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest October 16, 2014 - 10:07am

I can only echo what everyone else has already said, so I won't rehash. I've maintained this stance for about two years and agree 100% with everyone else. That is all.