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Critique guidelines for members

From: Michael
Sent on: Tuesday, April 3, 2012 2:51 PM


Recently, another member forwarded to me some writer's guidelines from another local group.  I think most of this is good advice.  I've left a few things off from the list, but I think most of this applies to us. But generally speaking, I think most of this is very good advice for a writer's critique group. Any questions, feel free to ask!

I realize in some cases we won't be submitting "perfect" manuscripts to the group, but it's a good idea to proof your manuscript prior to submission.

Critique Dos & Don’ts

ALL members should come to the group prepared . . . . . in other words, review the submitted pieces and be prepared to present your observations. If you’ve not done your homework before the meeting, you shouldn’t offer comments because you’ve not had time to adequately prepare.

All pieces submitted for critique should be ‘ready’. In other words, no typos, spell check run, complete sentences, author reviewed it, not fresh off the printer, etc.
When offering critique, do NOT review line edit type stuff in front of the group. However, the person doing the review should feel free to offer these types of comments in the written document they provide to the author.
Concentrate on story, believability, continuity, plot development, character development, judging criteria, point of view, character voice, consistency, hooks, tone, character development, etc.

A critique group is NOT the place to:
Learn grammar or punctuation
Build a social network
Get story ideas
Have someone re-write your stuff
Market your book or services
When offering critique, use Sandwich Technique
What I liked
What I didn’t like
Celebrate the effort
Encourage the author to take the next step(s) whatever they are– Revise, submit, present back to the group again, etc.
Each person in attendance who had pre-reviewed the work should present their comments uninterrupted until they are done or time runs out, whichever comes first. The author should not speak during a critique other than to say, “Thank You” at the end.
The author should ask clarifying questions after ALL critiques of the piece have been given. The author should be given the same amount of time to ask their questions as the members providing critique comments.

The member giving a critique should NOT use themselves as an example –
“I would do it this way . . . . “
“In my award winning story I did this . . . . . “
“I’ve been published, so I know they want . . . . . ”
“If I can do it, anyone can.”
The group should not condone comments such as-
That was stupid
You should take a writing class
Don’t quit your day job
That was a waste of time
Members who attend other critique groups should feel comfortable bringing ideas or suggestions to our group that they observed in the other group.
Concerning novels -
When reviewing novels, whether it be chapter, sections or the entire novel, remember, no line edits, just major factors such as character development, plot development, consistency in character speech, fact verification, no lose ends, message(s) delivered, tone, character development, etc. Fact verification example – If a person has one arm in chapter 3, they shouldn’t have two arms in chapter 36, unless an intervening chapter explained how they grew the second arm.
Particular emphasis should be placed on the first chapter to insure it is a grabber.
Watch for sagging middles and nothing left hanging. For instance, someone shouldn’t                               be left dangling by finger tips on the ledge of a building, get them down.


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