We meet for 2-3 hours on Thursday nights. We have a core group of about 10 members who attend whenever they're in town and an extended group of members who pop in when inspiration strikes. On any given night, you can expect anywhere from 3-9 writers to show up.
Writers are encouraged to bring short stories. They may be fictional or true to life, but there are a few guidelines:
Stories should not exceed 2,500 words to allow time to read them aloud and discuss them in the time we have. Micro-fiction is welcome.
Writers should bring a hard copy of a complete draft of their story.
Stories should be neither too underdeveloped or too polished to discuss.
Writers should only bring stories they plan to revise.
Writers should care what readers think to a reasonable degree. Writers who don't respect and value readers' feedback shouldn't ask for it by workshopping stories.
Writers should only bring stories on which they want genuine feedback. It's very difficult for most of us to share writing. Before selecting a story, members should ask themselves how they'd react if members were to find parts of their story imperfect (e.g., hard to follow, overtly manipulative, undeveloped, unengaging, unrewarding, predictable, self-conscious, confusing, far-fetched, cliché, sappy, clunky). If you can imagine going home and crying upon hearing some of those adjectives, you're like the rest of us! Certain stories make us more vulnerable than others. You might want to keep stories that make you particularly vulnerable to yourself for now.
Stories should have an arc or the promise of one.
Your role as editor will be an important one, so we follow a few editing guidelines as well:
Offer thoughtful feedback to every writer we read.
Lead with things about the story that work for you.
Stay focused on the story. Sometimes stories remind us of something that happened in life, but this is probably not the right time to share personal anecdotes (exception may be made for stories that are really short and funny :). There's usually plenty of time to talk between stories or at the end of the evening.
It can be tough to determine when feedback crosses the line and becomes prescriptive. It may help to imagine what would happen if the writer implemented your suggestion only to be published. If you'd be tempted to take credit for characters or plot points, back away. There's a big difference between being able to say you influenced the organization of a story and being able to say "hey, that was my idea!"
In order to be accepted to the group, you must submit a writing sample to ensure this group is the right fit for you.