FINAL UPDATE 02.23 : Writer’s Digest 2nd Draft Critique Service Critique!



John DeChancie’s assessment of my short story:

I don’t have all that much to say about your story, really. It’s superbly written. It has a professional gloss. The style is strong, sure, and direct. Grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and all the rest—first rate. Prose, as I said, wonderful.

The story works. It accomplishes its task with few wasted words. The dialogue is especially natural and lifelike.

I can’t find a thing wrong with it. There are no changes I would suggest you make. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is a perfect story, but it is just about as good as it is going to get. I could not improve it if I rewrote it myself.

I’m a bit shocked, and I’m not quite sure what to do with this information.  I’m happy, of course, that he sort of had nothing to offer in the way of improvements,  but I’m thinking that he didn’t exactly enjoy reading my story.  Which is fine.  It’s not a story for everyone.  And, obviously, I wasn’t entirely pleased with it myself, or I wouldn’t have sent it off for critique.

So, I suppose the next step is trying to get my story published!  I’d sent it a couple of places already, but DeChancie also mentioned that I might be better suited in a different market.  He also reformatted my document, although the one I sent him was formatted to Writer’s Digest specifications, and instructed me that his version is the preferred one among publishers.

As for the critique service itself, I would use it again, although the turnaround time was far from what is promised.  Writer’s Digest promotes a three-day turnaround, and I didn’t receive my critique for nearly three weeks, but I’m okay with that.  The reviewers are real writers who have other jobs and writerly responsibilities, so I’ll just know not to expect a quick response next time.

My $28 didn’t really change my life, as I’d said it might in my original post, but I’m just so happy he didn’t tell me that I’m a suck-ass writer.  Maybe now I can stop having nightmares where authors tell me to lay down my pen.

– sld

UPDATE 02.16:  Still no critique. I gave in and emailed John DeChancie.  (I also bought one of his short story collections. I need to know who I’m dealing with here, y’know?)  He apologized for the delay and said he’d have my story critiqued this week.

We shall see, John DeChancie, we shall see.

Nevertheless, in full awkward penguin fashion, I started stressing out again after his reply.  I actually cried.  I’m so embarrassed of myself that I can’t even come up with a funny way of writing about it.


UPDATE 02.10: So, I’ve yet to receive my WD critique, but I did get an update a few days ago from my critique-person.  John DeChancie emailed saying hello and letting me know he’d have my critique to me the following week.  I was pleased that I was awake at 2:39 am to see his message arrive, so I could Google him immediately.

And then I freaked out.  While I’ve never heard of DeChancie, he’s quite an accomplished writer, having authored a dozen or so novels. Look him up… here’s his website:

He’s actually reading my story, if he hasn’t already.


I’m not only questioning myself and my life choices, but mostly my decision to send off that crap short story that reads like a rejected Twilight Zone episode.  What was I thinking?!

Original Post:

In an effort to learn more about my writing mistakes and whatnot, I’ve just sent off a short story to Writer’s Digest for a critique.


It’s only $4.  Per page.

To be honest, I’d sort of hoped y’all fine people of WordPress would give me some feedback on my stuff, but that’s not happening.  I have no one else other than family to read my writing, and, frankly, I prefer to pay someone else to do it.  My critique-person will be honest, at least (I hope).

Here’s how the critique service works:

Step One:  Write a short story between 5 and 30 pages in length.

Step Two:  Format your document per the explicit instructions found in the Writer’s Digest Shop.

Step Three:  Purchase your critique.

Step Four:  Email your file along with appropriate info to Writer’s Digest.

Step Five:  Get your critiqued story back in a couple of days.

Step Six:  Have a drink (for whatever reason you choose)!

I spent $28.  That seems like a lot, but I think it will be worth it, seeing as I could be oblivious to the fact that I’m a suck-ass writer.  And if I’m a suck-ass writer, I want to know about it.  That $28 could change my life.

Anyway, I will update this post once I receive my glowing review (wah-wahhh) from WD.

Happy Night-Owling!


– sld


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