I've just joined, and I've looked around the site a little bit and found some interesting content. Unfortunately, I can't look at the workshops until I pay my $, so I haven't been able to judge the quality of the critiques and writing.
My background is in science (Ph.D.), but I've had five plays selected in competitions and produced, and four short stories placed in paying markets (but nothing too exciting). And I have three finished novels (two of which I've queried unsuccessfully, though infrequently (6-12 queries each)). Nearly done with fourth novel.
I've been a member of a few writers' sites, both genre and general fiction. I've been pretty active, but what I'd dearly love is finding a few critique partners (perhaps different ones for the different kinds of things I write), but I've failed at developing a lasting, helpful relationship with any (I have a couple that will review my work, but they write so seldomly that it's not really a reciprocal arrangement and I feel guilty about that).
I guess I'd look to find a critique partner here, too, but I wondered if this site is significantly different from the others I've been on. Namely, reviewers tend to do the minimum for the critique to "count," so they can keep submitting their own work. I tend to produce rather extensive critiques that are nearly line edits.
If you could tell me what to expect from the reviewers here, I'd appreciate it.
Things will vary wildly. I do in depth ones, some people do just a quick once over. I've had everything in between and had awesome feedback from all types. I've made some great friends, a few enemies, and been clued into some amazing writing on this site. Don't be afraid to dive write in (pun intended), but if not keep your toes in.
The quality of reviews will definitely vary in the Workshop. A number of those amazing reviewers I've encountered here over the last year and a half are currently on hiatus (namely, Anna Gutmann, Repo Kempt, Humboldt Lycanthrope, Nicholas Patnaude), which has definitely changed the atmosphere of the Workshop. Personally, these members have had an amazing impact on my writing, and I've been fortunate to develop great rapports with each and friendships that have continued outside of the Workshop. I've noticed that quality also varies on the type of feedback you seek. For example, some writers merely want praise as opposed to in-depth, objective reactions and suggestions.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, like other things in life, reviewing involves a certain chemistry in terms of writing style (i.e., genre of choice) and critique style, as I mentioned above. Please don't think I'm trying to dissuade or discourage you from joining; rather, I think it's important to enter with realistic expectations.
Best of luck!
The forums are pretty quiet. Does that mean there aren't many active folks?
Not a member yet myself, but I've thought payed forums (otherwise why is there an acess button?) tend to be more active. Correct me if I'm wrong.