The purpose of the Monday evening critique group is to support writers in their creative process. We are a general-interest writers’ group, open to writers of all levels of experience, and of all ages and interests.
We are a working writers’ group, and our main premise is that writers write. If you join, be prepared to read what you are working on, to take criticism graciously, and also to give it respectfully. We’ll help you achieve your goal of getting your stories into print—your goal is one we share.
While we strive to have fun at our meetings, we are not geared toward socializing. Attending meetings is a privilege. We begin with old business, move on to new business, and ask for any announcements and questions. With the business part out of the way, we move on to reading and critiques.
Reading Out Loud
Reading of original materials (published or unpublished) at the meetings will be limited to approximately 1,000 words, allowing for a few minutes of critique and discussion. Members may occasionally send a document to a designated board member asking to have it sent to the group prior to the meeting, allowing for more thorough reading and consideration; however, no member is obligated to do so. If any printed works are distributed at meetings, that writing is then collected and returned to the author at the end of the meeting, unless permission is given by the author to keep the writing.
Reading out loud brings a story to life. Inconsistencies, how a piece flows, run-on sentences, and many other problems become obvious. Reading your writing out loud can give you a sense of whether the tone is right. Sometimes we leave out a word, or make errors when we cut and paste. You will also be able to recognize places where you have moved from one topic to another too quickly.
Read with the emotions of the storyline, at a moderate pace, clearly enunciating and loud enough for all members to hear, recognizing that there may be members with hearing devices.
Tips for Critiquing
When giving critiques:
1. Critique the writing, not the writer. Critiques should be short, constructive, and only deal with the work.
2. Be specific, making suggestions for how the writer might improve on the story and the characters.
3. How you would write the story isn’t the point, but sharing how you might write it provides valuable perspective.
4. Remember the subject matter is personal, and even if it is not your personal taste, you can provide a fair critique.
5. If part of a story gives you the feeling that something is wrong, but you don’t know why, that’s okay. When a reader is taken out of the story for any reason, just say, “I was stopped by (the color, the word, or a point of view)”.
When receiving critiques:
1. While being critiqued, be open to new ideas. You are totally free not to take other members’ advice. It’s your writing, so there is no need to defend your writing. You are being given the gift of how others suggest that your work may be improved.
2. You may wish to take notes.
3. Appreciate that even good things can be improved.
4. Be willing to make changes that make sense to you, without feeling obligated to change anything you feel is essential to your story. It belongs to you.
5. Even if several members agree that a scene or stanza is confusing or implies something you didn’t intend, the problem may or may not be with the writing.
Take turns speaking.
Give constructive criticism.
Use constructive dialogue.
Be positive and encouraging.
Create a safe environment in which to learn
and enjoy the craft of writing.