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Welcome to the Short Stories Critics Club!
As many of you authors know, it can be difficult to get a lot of reviews in the Library here on BZPower. Unfortunately, we cannot provide a lot of reviews. Instead, we hope to provide something better: one in-depth review by one of our very own critics that will help everyone grow as a writer. After all, there's always room improvement and that is precisely the reason this small handful of kind and helpful BZP members have come together: To help others become better writers.
Civility: Number one on the list, this encompasses quite a bit, so read carefully. No rudeness to the staff. Easy enough. No posts or PMs asking about why your story hasn't been reviewed yet (if the week is not up – if it has been a week you may politely PM myself or Tolkien asking about the status of your review). This one will result in your request being thrown out and we will not accept any further requests for that story in the future. The same goes for begging and back-seat reviewing.
One Time, One at a Time: To be fair to other writers, we will not accept more than one of your stories at a time. This is to ensure while critics are handling other requests, we are not overwhelmed by a nearly exclusive number of your requests. Once you have received your review, you are more than welcome to return with another story to be reviewed. A short story will only be reviewed once by the SSCC.
OTC Short Stories: The SSCC takes Off Topic Culture requests, but only short stories.
Favoritism: Writers may not request a specific critic to review his/her story. If you want, you may PM them for a review and it will be at their discretion whether they have time or not.
Errors: We are not infallible. If you believe we have done something in error regarding your story, please feel free to contact us through PM. This includes polite questions about a request that has been active for over a week or reporting any grievances about an unsatisfactory review you received. We will try to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
Issues: If you have any issues with a review or a critic, please PM me! We want to have complete customer satisfaction, so please do not hesitate to PM myself or Tolkien with any issues or concerns you have. Furthermore, if you believe a BZPower rule has been broken, then again please do not hesitate to PM myself, a Forum Assistant in the Short Stories forum, or any other staff member here.
Critical info to all you authors, your post will contain the following or it will be disregarded. Type out the name of your short story, highlight it, and click the Link button above your post (the chains with the green plus symbol). Paste the URL of your short story in there. Follow with your name and you're all set. It should look like this:
My Story - My Name
Please note that having the link in your sig is not a proper substitute for the above format.
The Short Stories Critics Club prides itself on its elite team of reviewers. Quality is our primary goal and we aim to succeed every time. If you are interested in joining our stellar team, please send one of the curators a PM titled "SSCC Application" containing the following:
Username: (put a link to your member profile here; it saves me the later trouble of having to edit this part of your bio whenever you change your username)
Current status: (Any written works of your own? Libraries? What stories [if any] are you working on right now?)
What I look for: (as a reader/reviewer, what do you look for in a story? Good grammar? Interesting characters? Descriptions? Good solid plots?)
Misc: (What do you do? What other Clubs are you in? What forums do you visit in BZP? Anything else you want to put in here; hobbies in real life, etc.)
Once we receive your PM and look over the details, you will undergo screening and asked if you are able to fulfill the guidelines set for our critics. If so, you will be asked to submit a mock-review for a short story of the curators' choosing. Once a decision is reached on the quality of your review, you will be contacted. If your review was unsatisfactory, we will give you tips on how to improve, and you will be given a second chance in 30 days. If you are rejected a second time, you may not reapply. Remember, only apply if you are serious about delivering in-depth reviews to requesters.
Probation Period: When a critic is hired, he or she will be a Probationary Critic until he or she has completed 3 satisfactory reviews. The exception to this is if the critic is recruited, in which case the probationary period is waived.
The aforementioned team of elite writers does their best to ensure optimal quality in every review. They are the motor behind our machine, and here you can learn a bit about them.
Current status: Currently I only have a handful of short stories posted here on BZPower. There were a few epics at one point that I started back in my beginning stages as a writer, but let's not talk about those, shall we? All of my at least good-ish-quality writing can be found in my library, The Shadowy Verge. I'll also occasionally post vignettes in my blog that may or may not get transferred to my library depending on how lazy I am.
What I look for: One of the main things I look for when reviewing a story is proper grammar and spelling. The first thing I'll do is comb through a story and point out any grammar or spelling flaws I find. Another big thing for me is characterization. Some people may tell you that I could rant for hours about characterization, and they'd be right. However, I do realize that with short stories characterization is often partially lost due to the shortness of the story (especially if it's a vignette), but I'll still usually mention something about it. I'll also usually mention something about the title or the opening of the story (or both) -- I believe that a strong opening is vital; something that grasps the reader's (in this case, me) attention right away. If I'm bored at the beginning of your story, it'll be harder for me to enjoy it. I'll also try to point out the other mechanics of a story, such as good dialogue, plot, originality, writing style, etc. I will also always try to point out in detail the things I liked and didn't like, as well as an explanation as to why.
Misc.: I love to write. I consider it my passion, more than just a hobby -- something that is, to me, simply something enjoyable to spend time on. Recently I've been trying to write more and more, thanks in part to and idea that John (better known as 55555) had where a group of us writers would write for fifteen minutes on a specific theme. Coupled with writing, I also love to read. Some of my favorite authors include Vince Flynn, Michael Connelly, Jim Butcher, Agatha Christie, J. R. R. Tolkien, and many more. I am currently a Forum Assistant here on BZP (awesomely in this very forum), a host of the Ambage, the co-curator in the ECC, and I previously held the position of curator for the CCC. I have hosted several short story contests here and hope to do more. Outside of BZP I enjoy ranting and rambling (which I also often do on BZP as well), watching movies and TV, talking about and being a part of religion and politics, etc.
Current status: I’ve written a handful of things—mainly short stories, with a couple of epics sprinkled in (only one finished though!). Check out my blog for a listing of them.
What I look for: As both a reader and reviewer, I look mainly for originality when it comes to the plot of a story—something that grabs your attention and holds it. This might seem kind of basic, but you’d be surprised at how subtle writing can be in this respect. In a review, I try to evaluate both the structure of the writing (writing style) and the structure of the narrative itself, although I probably tend to focus on the former more than the latter. This includes elements such as description, dialogue, and the flow of the story—transitions, etc. Good grammar and spelling is always great too!
Misc: I’ve tried various things in my time on BZP: art, blogging, etc. Writing is my main focus at the moment though, so I tend to lurk around the Library forums (mostly the Short Stories forum). I’m also a BZP Reporter, and a member of the Ambage. Favorite (modern) authors include J.R.R. Tolkien (if you couldn’t guess), Ursula K. Le Guin, C.S. Lewis, Arthur C. Clarke, and many, many more.
Cederak -- Co-Curator Emeritus
Current status: Writing is my passion. I write actively both on and off BZPower, from other types of fan fiction to the incipience of a professional career. All my BZP writings can be found in my sanctum.
What to look for: When I read a story, I want proper grammar; but that's just a foundation. Built upon this base I want--well, everything. I want drama, romance, depth. But what I consider most crucial in any story is the prose that conjures its world and pulls me into it. I want descriptions to give me eyes; I want dialogue that gives me ears. I want prose that takes puts me in that world alongside the characters, experiencing everything they do. I don't want to read stories; I want to live them.
Misc: In addition to writing and reviewing here on BZP, I am founder and co-host of the Ambage. In the physical world where I try to live when I can, my passion for literature extends from writing to reading and back again. I enjoy classics especially, and rarely read contemporaries. My genre is mystery; some of my favorite authors therein are Wilkie Collins, Dame Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Other passions include food and nature; from cooking to eating, from playing sports to climbing trees.
Current status: You can find my library here. Currently I am working on the third story in the Those Who Burn series, featuring Nuparu. By "working on," I mean "thinking about once in a while" but maybe someday soon I will get over my laziness and actually write something.
What I look for: The two big clinchers for me are good characters and good dialogue. As long as your plot makes sense, it’s fine with me. But an excellent story is one that brings the characters to life. I want to feel like I could have a conversation with them. Another important thing is economy of language: usually I will recommend one or two things you can cut just as examples, but I encourage you to always look over your work and find any unnecessary words before posting it.
Current status: A couple of years ago, I started an epic. It was fittingly bad, for a first attempt. I've always told myself that it'd be nice to reboot that story, but I simply haven't gotten around to it. Other than that, I wrote a couple of comedies and a handful of short stories, but those were all on the old forums. Since then I've sort moved on into non-Bionicle works, but I plan on getting back into writing soon enough.
What to look for: I love a solid plot. No plot holes, believable characters, the works. It should all tie together, be convincing (not necessarily realistic, but convincing), and should just work. I also love believable characters. It doesn't really matter where the character starts, as long as everywhere they go as a character makes sense. (And that's my philosophy for what makes a good story.)
Oh, and solid grammar is a must. I'll turn a blind eye to oen or two minor issues, but if the grammar is simply bad throughout the entire work, I'll let you know.
Misc: I tend to frequent the BBC forum and the SS forum. I used to read a ton of epics, but again, that was before the massive downtime. Also used to be on the ECC, but not anymore. In my freetime I like to play video games (I've got a Wii and a 3DS. Yes, I'm a Nintendo fan. Sue me. If anyone wants to play some Mario Kart 7, check out the mario kart thread in COT). I also love reading and watching movies. Also trying to learn to play guitar. I'm a pretty friendly guy, if you have any questions or whatnot, feel free to pm me.
Zarayna: --Temporary Hiatus
Current status: Zarayna is a fairly active writer of (mainly) fanfiction. He writes occasional Short Stories, and is working on an epic written as a philosophic inquiry to how the Great Beings creating rational souls while attempting to make machines. However, his main focus as of now is a complete rewriting of The Hunger Games series.
What to look for: There are different types of stories, and what Zarayna looks for is mainly contingent upon the type. For instance, if a story is focused mainly on an event, characterization is not in great demand. However, in stories that focus greatly on emotion, or a character, it is. Overall, Zarayna enjoys stories with good description, not overmuch length, realistic action and dialogue, and fairly good grammar. He is especially partial to stories of the Toa vs. Dark Hunter war.
Misc: Zarayna is a semiactive member of BZP, mostly hiding in Bionicle RPGs, Short Stories, and blogs. He is a member of the SSCC, as well as the founder of the now inactive RPGCC. He enjoys writing as a hobby, as well as archery and swordfighting. He is currently in highschool, and hopes to enter a seminary upon graduating.
Receiving Strikes: If a critic does not complete their assignment within one week, they will receive a strike against them. This strike will be denoted on your critic bio as well. Please inform one of the curators within a day or two if you will be unable to complete the assignment on time, to prevent receiving a strike. If a critic accumulates three strikes he/she will be released. Simple as that. To reapply, the critic must wait two months. If a critic is released twice, they will not be allowed to return to the SSCC. Once again, please only apply if you can comply with the standards and regulations of the club
Removing Strikes: If you receive a strike, providing your record remains clean for the next 90 days, it will be removed and disregarded.
Reviewing: Each critic is required to give a full, in-depth review. We encourage correcting the spelling/grammar as well as giving your thoughts on the plot, characters, etc. You must give positive feedback and constructive criticism. If you like the short story, tell the writer why. If you don't, tell the author why politely, and say how said author can improve.
Critic Civility: If you are rude to the curators, another critic, a requester, or anyone for that matter, you will be released and not allowed to reapply. No questions asked.
Review Notification: Post in this topic once you've completed an assignment.
Extension Requests: A critic may request an extension on an assignment no later than 96 hours (4 days) from the initial assigning. A critic may not request an extension two assignments in a row. If you are going to be late on an assignment, it is your responsibility to contact one of the curators. Failure to notify one of the curators and request an extension within the 96 hour period will result in receiving a strike.
Edited by Velox, Apr 15 2013 - 06:59 PM.