Back in the 90's, I decided editors and agents needed help slaying the slush pile and making decisions. So I founded a unique business that was both a critique service and a review of unpublished material: Capsule Reviews of Original Work (CROW). If, after critiquing a manuscript, we felt it was potentially publishable, we’d condense the detailed writer’s critique into a 300-word capsule review. We published the reviews in a magazine that we sent to hundreds of editors and agents all over the country. The publication included a reply card, so recipients could tell us which scripts they wanted to see.
CROW was a success in the sense that it helped a lot of writers improve their work and find publishers. But it never made a profit, so I had to shut it down after six years. It had served as a graduate school of sorts, as I critiqued more than 200 manuscripts myself, and supervised a network of critics. It made me think critically about what makes a good story. It gave me a platform for articulating useful ideas about the creative process. And it introduced me to a lot of good, creative people that I would never otherwise have known.
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