The Online Writing Workshop (OWW): A Haven for Speculative Writers
If you're a f/sf/h writer and you're struggling to find places to get critiques on your work, I'd highly recommend The Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Even if you're a member of an in-person creative writing group, you can still get a lot of benefits out of the OWW - fresh eyes on your work, unbiased opinions from other writers who you probably don't already know.
I've been a member of The OWW on-and-off for almost a decade now and it has always helped me see where my stories might need work. It has helped me become a better and more focused writer, and also feel like part of a creative community where everybody is incentivised to help others.
Read about the staff here. See that list of resident editors, both past and present? They're some of the best writers in these genres, so the possibility of getting personalised feedback from one of them is in itself a massive reason to join up.
Some things I love about The OWW in particular
The Subscription Model: They have multiple subscription options. Sometimes you just don't think you can stretch your budget for a yearly sub, so instead you can pick every six months or each month (this is the one I use) and spread costs. Trust me when I say: it's worth it. But to get the most out of your subscription you really need to actually use the forums as intended - submit your writing and critique others' writing.
Constructive Feedback: The feedback you receive on The OWW is invaluable as it offers fresh perspectives and identifies areas of improvement. You also get to engage with a diverse community of writers. If you get two reviews on a piece, chances are that the reviewers will pick up on different things. You don't always have to agree, but it's interesting to see how people interpret your stories.
A Sense of Community: Connecting with like-minded authors who understand the challenges of writing in this genre can be motivating and inspiring. And by participating actively, you can build lasting relationships and find mentors, connect with others on social media, and discover new writers to watch out for in the future. There's a nice incentive to the structure of the forums too: you post your work, you get reviews, so you feel compelled to review others. If you choose not to review anyone else's work, you might notice that you don't get many reviews in turn, so it's always best to pay it forward or reciprocate.
Developing Your Analytical Skills: Critiquing many different stories and chapters has absolutely helped me in both my own storytelling and being able to critique my own work. You start to notice when readers pick up on common issues, making it easier for you to spot those things when writing your next story. This critical eye allows you to find plot holes, inconsistencies, or areas where your story could benefit from further development before you've even shown anyone else.
Building Empathy: Understanding the perspective of other writers is crucial for your own growth. When you critique lots of different stories, you appreciate different writing styles and narrative voices and techniques.
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone: When you actively participate on the forums, you expose your writing to a diverse group of readers with varying tastes and preferences. It's always great when somebody leaves a review on my work and it starts something like this "I don't usually read horror/YA/etc, but I was intrigued by the concept of your story." This is also why you should critique stories that fall outside of your usual reading comfort zone - you never know what you'll find, and chances are you'll learn someone through the process of reviewing these types of stories.
Hope to see you on the OWW forums!