I’ve been a member of a few writers’ groups in my time, and the results have generally been somewhat disappointing. Most of the time, the whole thing turned into a big social club (which is great and has a place, certainly) or having my work reviewed or reviewing the work of others was an exercise in frustration because the site tools were clunky or nonexistent.
Not so with Review Fuse, a new site I stumbled across recently while searching for online writers’ groups. They’re still in beta, but already they’re looking really good. The site itself is well-designed, aesthetically and practically speaking. The graphic design is simple, but pleasing to the eye, but it’s the functional design that really stands out. They make it easy to review others’ work, with an inline comment system that lets you click on a paragraph and add comments to a text box which automatically appears below. Highlighted text in a paragraph results in quoted text in your inline comments, allowing a reviewer to easily pinpoint problems in text. Reviewers can give a piece up to 10 stars in specific categories such as character development, plot, and dialog, allowing writers who are strong or weak in certain areas to recognize where they need to improve and to receive encouragement for what they’re doing well.
Of course, your own work can get reviewed as well. You can upload your own work from your computer desktop from a Word doc or .rtf (Rich Text) file into their interface–it even keeps all of your formatting intact when you do it this way. Once you’ve done that, then your piece is available for review by other site users. The site automatically keeps your work private from outside viewers, helping preserve your first time publication status if you want to submit your piece for publication elsewhere. When you submit a piece for review, you are automatically assigned to review three other pieces of writing before other site users will be able to see your work, assuring that the reviewing keeps flowing and everyone’s work gets read. Its a well-thought through system, and kudos to the site designers for coming up with it.
Even though Review Fuse is still in beta, it is solid and the site designers are responsive and friendly to any potential problems. Overall, I highly recommend this site for anyone who writes (especially those who write a lot) and wants to get quality, constructive feedback on their work.