The Spotlight FAQ

So what are the spotlights, anyway?

The spotlights are short lists of work put together by a few simple rules. Critiques written for works that are in one of the spotlights earn you much more karma than critiques on works that aren’t in one of the spotlights. The fastest way to earn karma points is to write critiques of work that is in one of the spotlights.

Work is put in a spotlight based on a few simple rules.

Work is removed from a spotlight after it has received a minimum number of long critiques.

How do the spotlights work, exactly?

There are five spotlights:

The Main spotlight: The Main Spotlight is split up by types of work (like short story, novel, poetry, etc.). The number of works of each type in the spotlight depends on how many are waiting in line for the spotlight. A work is removed from the spotlight once it gets 3 long critiques (critiques longer than 125 words), and another work of the same type is put in to the spotlight in its place. You can only have one work at a time in the Main spotlight.

The New Member spotlight: The New Member Spotlight is a list of work from new members. When you join, the first work you post will be placed in this spotlight immediately, bypassing the Main Spotlight. There’s no limit to the number of works that can be in this spotlight at once.

The Good Critiquer spotlight: The Good Critiquer Spotlight is a list of work from members who have written the most words in their critiques over the last day. If you’re in the top 5 members in terms of words written in critiques, your work that’s not currently in a spotlight with the fewest critiques and with public visibility will be placed in this spotlight for an entire day, regardless of how many long critiques it receives. If you have no work matching that criteria, then you’re skipped over for this spotlight. This spotlight updates once a day.

Personal spotlights: Premium members have the option of posting their work to their own Personal spotlight. Work in a Personal spotlight stays in that spotlight until it’s received 6 long critiques—much more than the other spotlights. Additionally, works in a Personal spotlight may have “restricted” visibility. (This isn’t allowed for the other spotlights.) You can have any number of works in a Personal spotlight at once.

The tradeoff is that only members who follow you and members in groups you’re also a member of get a karma bonus for critiquing works in your Personal spotlight. Works in Personal spotlights also don’t appear in the main “Writing” section of the site, so you’ll have to do the legwork to promote them to other members. (Bulletins come in handy for this!)

Personal spotlights are perfect for members who have a critique network in the form of groups or followers, and are OK with doing the networking legwork to get those members critiquing.

The Beta Read spotlight: Premium members can post their work to the Beta Read spotlight. Perhaps the most noticeable feature of the Beta Read spotlight is that it doesn’t cost karma to post to it. Like a Personal spotlight, work enters the Beta Read spotlight immediately. Unlike a Personal spotlight, nobody earns any karma points for critiques of work in the Beta Read spotlight. On the other hand, your work stays in the Beta Read spotlight indefinitely, until you remove it yourself. You can have any number of works in the Beta Read spotlight at once.

Beta Read spotlights are for members who have a smaller, established critique group with whom they’d like to do a more complete beta read. Posting to it is free, but it isn’t visible in site listings, and you have to convince your group to critique your work without earning karma points.

What happens when my work is removed from a spotlight?

After your work is removed from a spotlight, it can still be critiqued for 30 more days. After those 30 days, it’s locked, which means it can still be read but not critiqued.

You can put your work back in line for a spotlight at any time within those 30 days. If you do, the process starts over.

If your work gets locked, you can also unlock it. When you unlock your work, it’s put in line for the spotlight of your choice again and is eligible for the minimum number of critiques, on top of the critiques it has already received—the process starts over! Check out this writeup on the life cycle of a work on Scribophile to learn more about how the process works.

That’s great! So how do I get my works up there faster?

The fastest way to get your work on the Main Spotlight is to write detailed critiques for works that are currently in the spotlight and that are the same type of work as yours. For example, if you posted a novel chapter that’s in line for a spotlight, critiquing other novel chapters currently in the spotlight will remove them faster and thus get yours in faster. Remember, once a work hits 3 critiques longer than 125 words, it’s automatically removed to make room for the next work, so the more detailed your critiques are, the faster the spotlight will move and the faster your work will get up there!

My work has been waiting to get in the spotlight for a while. How long does it take usually?

For some types of writing, like flash fiction, short stories, or articles, the wait to get in to the Main spotlight isn’t very long. For other types of writing, like novel chapters, the wait can be much longer.

That’s because the Main spotlight is separated by type of writing. That is, if you post a new piece of flash, you only have to wait for a piece of flash currently in the Main spotlight to leave that spotlight before yours gets in. Likewise if you post a novel chapter, you have to wait for a novel chapter currently in the spotlight to leave it before yours moves up in line.

The wait for novel chapters turns out to be longer because everybody wants to post novel chapters, but people would rather earn karma points by critiquing short stories and flash. Since the spotlight is separated by type, this means that things that people want to critique, like flash and short stories, tend to have a shorter wait, while things people critique less, like novel chapters, have a longer wait.

So that means that if you plan on posting a novel chapter, you should earn your karma points by critiquing other novel chapters that are currently in the Main spotlight. That will move them out of the spotlight sooner, making room for your own novel chapter sooner.

If you critique only flash fiction, then post 10 chapters of your epic fantasy novel, then you can’t complain when it takes a while—you haven’t been critiquing fairly!

But I don’t know how to critique! How will I fill up 125 words?

Critiquing isn’t hard at all, and anyone can do it. One of the best ways is to quote the work as you’re reading it in the “Write A Critique” page, and writing feedback for quoted passages instead of the work as a whole. You can also contact the author via scratchpad or private message to ask them what kind of help they’re looking for. For more hints on writing critiques, check out these handy links or read our longer write-up.