Critique Schedule

  • To request a critique date, send an email to one of your SFWW hosts.
  • Members must have done at least four critiques before they can ask for a critique date.
  • Members must remain active to receive their critique date.

    Please convert story submissions to text (.txt) format or place in the body of an email (if it will fit) before sending to the host for distribution to the group.
  • Submissions should be sent to Elizabeth at least 3 weeks before the assigned Critique Due Date.

*The number of critiques received tends to decline during the holidays.

Sample Critique 4

Critique of "Thumbalina and Flatfoot" by Joe Lindsay

Story by Roland Hough

The classic SF form of a Man with a Problem. The best features of these stories have always been the science. Yours certainly qualifies in this respect.

* The use of language is sound, at times becoming a little technical and long-winded. You should see if there's anything irrelevant you could cut out. For example --

Sample Critique 3

Critique of "Thumbalina and Flatfoot" by Bob Langer

Story by Roland Hough

Dear Roland,

I try to wait until I've finished reading a story before making any comments. In the first paragraph you state that you're space craft is in free fall. In the second paragraph you state that, "Gravity is increasing, I can feel it in my fingers." If the space craft is truly in free fall, then there would be no sensation of gravity by the passengers. (This is why people in LEO are weightless, not because the force of gravity falls off that quickly.) If the craft is either accelerating or decelerating, then it is not in a state of free fall.

Sample Critique 2

Critique of "Climbing Twilight" by DM Rowles

Story by JD Williams


What a lovely story! It is almost perfect. You did a great job in creating an alien being. (“Redwoods” make me think “Big foot” makes me think “Past or Future earth” but no matter; maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.) And on a deeper level, of course, the story is about the need we all have to be able to say goodbye to a loved one. So the story uses the genre to deal with a human problem. That’s what good sf is all about for me -- but I am a product of the 60s, don’t forget...Delaney, Ballard, Aldiss, Ellison, Russ, LeGuin, Disch, Moorcock etc.

Sample Critique 1

Critique of "Climbing Twilight" by David Lowrey

Story by JD Williams

Hi Jim-

You have a good idea here and some interesting fantasy beings to portray. Here's a few suggestions on how to make them more interesting.

(BTW, sometimes when I get critiques, my first reaction to 'suggestions' is like Commander Kern to Riker in ST- The Next Generation: "If this were a Klingon ship, I would have killed you for your 'suggestion.'" But I usually get over that in a few minutes ; )

Sample Critiques

Sample critiques from the SFWW are presented below as both an example to new and prospective members of the kind of critiques produced in the workshop, and to guide those who are new to the workshop experience in writing their own critiques. Every writer has their own style, and no style should be seen as the "right" way to critique. Please also refer to our critique Guidelines.

Critique Guidelines

When we criticize work, we are commenting for the purposes of salability, and our goal is to help authors to become publishable and published writers. For prose pieces, the following issues are critically important:


- does the action make sense? Is what is written moving the story forward? Sometimes, the pieces are too short or are fragments, so a complete plot analysis isn't possible. Most pieces can be judged within the first few sentences for effective plot beginnings, however. That's what editors do.

a) Does the story start at the right place (the beginning)? Most stories by beginning writers start far too early--way before the key action takes place. Some, however, may start too far forward. These writers have taken the advice of start with the action at full steam too literally.


Each member must critique at least two stories a month to maintain membership. The hosts can grant waivers to this policy on an individual basis, provided members contact them in advance.

A new story or novel chapter will be sent to the membership each Monday. The author must provide their story to the host two weeks before their scheduled critique date in ASCII (text) or HTML format, or in the body of an email (if the story will fit). No other formats are accepted.

Members have two weeks to critique a given story. Critiques must be written in the body of an email and sent to every member on the mailing list. Please read our detailed critique guidelines and sample critiques if you have any questions about this process.

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