Procedures & Guidelines

We strive to be supportive but honest, and to help each other create publishable work.

Procedures

We meet twice a month on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm. A meeting might be canceled (rarely!), but you will be notified via email if this happens.

Your attendance, even on weeks when you haven’t submitted a piece to be critiqued, is valuable. We have found that as we get to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, the feedback we can provide for each other improves. This is more likely with regular attendance.

A reminder/roll call is emailed the week before the meeting. Please “reply all” so that we know who is coming, and who is submitting work, and how long the submitted work is. If not sure, please reply with at least a “maybe” ASAP. If something unexpected comes up and you need to change your reply, please email, message, or call ASAP.

Writers with pieces to critique will post them (via Google Docs) not later than five days before the meeting, giving the group a chance to read before the meeting. 15,000 is the total limit of words we can possibly deal with in each session, and more than 5000 words per piece is too much. This means we can critique three writers if each submits 5000 words, five if each person submits a 3000-word piece. You get the idea.

We’ll ask at each meeting who is interested in submitting for the next session. Priority is given to people who haven’t received feedback in a while. We also try to be accommodating of our members’ publisher/agent/application/contest deadlines, or to people whose work we didn’t get to in a previous session.

As time allows, we may have free-form discussions for writers who are dealing with particular problems or questions for a work in progress (or development).

Silence cell phones during critique

If you are new, please attend a meeting or two before submitting your own work. This will enable you to:

  1. Learn how we operate, and
  2. Decide if our group is right for you.

Guidelines for a Positive Critique Group Experience

Share something you like about the piece immediately! You’re not limited to one positive statement. Feel free to mention several elements you enjoy about the piece.

Critiquers take timed turns (usually 3 minutes) to offer feedback. No interruptions.

As you offer feedback, try to avoid asking the author a question, since

  1. It will take away from your feedback time
  2. It could have the author trying to explain verbally what they meant, rather than figuring out how to make it evident in their writing, and
  3. It may make the author defensive

Author should listen and take notes, but should wait until after the person offering feedback finishes before asking for clarification.

Critiquers who agree with parts of previous comments can simply say ditto and move on to their unique impressions of the piece. If you disagree with a previous reviewer, it’s usually helpful to say so, since the author needs to process multiple points of view before deciding how or whether to revise a piece.

After all critiques, the author may ask final questions or seek clarifications, but this should be brief enough to allow us to move to the next author.