Critique Service

In my years of running Fiction on the Web, I have read and edited thousands of short stories, so by now I have a fair idea of what makes a great story, and what it takes to improve a story.

For my Patreon subscribers, I occasionally offer an honest, down-to-earth critiquing service. This service is only available as an ad-hoc offer to people who are supporting Fiction on the Web on Patreon.

What Do You Get?

You will be sent a Microsoft Word document of your story with the following editorial corrections marked in a different colour:
  • Grammar
    • Sentence fragments
    • Parallelism
    • Subject-verb agreement
    • Verb tense
    • Pronoun agreement
    • Misplaced modifiers
  • Punctuation
    • Periods
    • Commas
    • Semicolons
    • Colons
    • Question marks and exclamation points
    • Quotation marks
    • Dashes
    • Ellipsis points
    • Apostrophes
  • Spelling
  • Capitalization
  • Hyphenation
  • Word usage
    • Commonly misused words (i.e. their/they’re/there, affect/effect)
    • Obviously incorrect word choice
  • Clear and consistent use of
    • Abbreviation
    • Acronyms
  • Numbers
    • Digits vs. spelled out (99 vs. ninety-nine)
    • Dates and time
    • Percentages, decimals and fractions
  • Notes, bibliographies and references to other works
Your story will be scored against the following scale, and advice to help improve your story will be given where appropriate:
  • Opening
    • 20   Outstanding opening, instantly captivating
    • 15   Inventive, confident, read-on opening
    • 10   Appropriate and intriguing opening
    • 5     Room for improvement - not best feature
    • 0     Flat, inappropriate or slow opening
    • -10  Poor opening, an early letdown
  • Ending
    • 20   Totally apt and satisfying
    • 10   Room for improvement
    • 0     Disappointing, did not do justice to the story
  • Title
    • 10  Suitable and intriguing title
    • 5    Functional title but not very inspiring
    • 0    Irrelevant or awkward title
  • Plot/Theme
    • 20   Strongest part of the story, memorable
    • 15   Confidently handled, an assured touch
    • 10   Interesting, demanded and deserved full attention
    • 5     A familiar situation but well handled
    • 0     Superficial, strained or cliché
    • -5   Neither important nor entertaining
  • Action/Pace
    • 20   Breathless, effortless and well constructed
    • 15   Good control and flowed well
    • 10   Promising in places, but not consistent
    • 5     Would be greatly improved with a re-write
    • -5   Anecdotal, incohesive, or lacked a good narrative
  • Characters
    • 20   Unique, deep, utterly believable characters
    • 15   Easy characters to understand and to recognise
    • 10   A mixture - some good, some sketchy
    • 5     Stock characters, one-dimensional
    • 0     Unconvincing, detracted from the story
  • Language and dialogue
    • 20   Effortless style, creative use of language
    • 15   Smooth, easy to read, sensitive feeling for words
    • 10   Fluent without being striking
    • 5     Fairly good command, but occasionally stumbles
    • 0     Needs some re-writing to improve clarity
    • -5   Little feeling for words, jarring
  • Entertainment Factor
    • 30   World-class - brilliant, memorable, a joy to read
    • 20   A page-turner, satisfying and well-written
    • 15   Interesting, but not exceptional
    • 10   Might appeal to a minority
    • 0     Difficult to recommend
    • -10  Boring, difficult to keep reading until the end
Approximate score guide (maximum 160): 80+ commended; 100+ should find a market; 115+ exceptional
All editorial and critiquing comments are presented as my opinion. I will make an effort to explain my edits and critiques so that you can make an educated decision about whether to take them on or not.


  • Hi, thanks for your critique, it has pinpointed the areas that I need to work on and given me a new outlook on the whole story which has sparked ideas for improvements. I will definitely use your service again on any other stories that I write in the future... hell, I think I will send this one to you again after I have beefed it up a bit! Hope you don't mind! Cheers no end.
  • I would once again like to thank you for your crit on "Always The Bad Guy". Two magazines took interest in it and I finally let it go to Crimespree Magazine. It goes up with a story from a crime novelist from NY called Tom Wolven. Over the moon!
  • Your crits have helped so much. When I wrote it, I, too, felt it read a little awkward as far as back story goes. I thought too hard about defining the two tenses that I felt I needed to add "hads" here and there. I took your advice and eliminated them. I also took out other words to make it read without jarring. Thanks again!
  • Thank you very much for your critique, your comments are really useful and the format works well. As this is the first story I've ever written, your critique has given me confidence to have a go at more. (Which no doubt I'll send to you and you'll end up being sick of me.) As I said in my previous e-mail, thanks very much for this service.
  • Thank you very much for your last critique on my story "Smoking The Opposition". I posted it on my writing site and it made "Today's Top Rated" for three days running. Your crit has helped me no end; it was a great learning curve.
  • Thanks again, you run a really good service and I will be using you in the future.
  • I agree with just about everything you say. I am pleased with both your critiques. Both stories were among 5 that I wrote in 2003. My writing style has improved considerably [since then] and I have learned more about POV and most grammar pitfalls to avoid... Being a professional writer is my dream, I have learnt a lot since 2003. Thanks again.
  • Again you've been brilliant, Mister Charles. Thank you.
  • Thanks for the crit. Most excellent. I've paid a lot more for a lot less, I can tell you. Of course I can tell you, I just did. I'll be happy to recommend you to anyone looking for a crit. I particularly like the scoring aspect, which most don't give.
  • Hi Charlie. Thank you very much for your very useful comments on my story. I really appreciate the time and effort that it must have taken! It has been great to have someone look at it and give me some ideas about how I can improve it. I will take on board all your changes. Punctuation never was my strong point. I will also try to act on the other advice you gave especially concerning plot and pace even if it scares me a little. It's hard to know how long you can keep meddling with a piece before it all falls to bits! I didn't plan the story at all and that's half the problem. I just started to write as an exercise to see if I could make something happen. Thanks again for your help it has encouraged me.
  • Hi. Many thanks for the feedback etc. on The Lebensborn Legacy... your comments were useful and very valid.