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About the Community
The People’s Ink is a free, inclusive, structured, and community-based writers’ group.
Our Tuesday evening workshops average between 40 and 60 writers spread across nearly a dozen critique, discussion, and writing groups. Additionally, we organize various complementary meetings for further community support, and also host and promote literary events and readings.
We’re the incubator of several independent publishing ventures including our community-curated blog; our tri-yearly zine, Typehouse; our speculative podcast, The Overcast; and our independent authors collective. You can click the links above to find out more about each.
Members are welcome to participate in the fashion best suited to their unique goals as writers.
The People’s Ink is a free, inclusive, structured, and community-based writers group.
- Free. Attendance and participation in our offerings costs no money whatsoever.
- Inclusive. Anyone who is passionate about their writing, committed to participation in the group format(s) of their choosing, and who follows the community guidelines, is welcome.
- Structured. We provide clear expectations and thoroughly coordinated group planning in order to achieve the most constructive experience possible.
- Community. We unite writers in the spirit of support, collaboration, and learning.Member Expectations
Members are expected to:
- Write consistently in order to have meaningful work available for critique.
- Read their assigned submission(s) thoroughly before each meeting and come prepared to engage in productive discussion.
- Attend each assigned meeting as best they can, be timely with their arrival, and remain for the entire duration of the workshop.
- Provide notice in advance when unable to attend a meeting.Remain open-minded, fair, and respectful during workshops.
Our model is stable enough to provide consistency, but fluid and diverse enough to meet the needs and desires of writers of all styles, intentions, and literary lineages. We provide clear expectations and thoroughly coordinated group planning in order to achieve the most constructive experience possible. All group formats depends upon the ever-changing needs of the People’s Ink community, and evolve accordingly.
Most groups meet Tuesdays in South East Portland roughly between 6:30PM and 8:30PM; some groups start earlier or finish later; others skip weeks between meetings; others still meet on different days.
As of 8/2015, The People’s Ink offers the following group formats: 1) Community Critique Groups, 2) The Writer’s Craft Discussion Group, 3) The Literary Theory Discussion Group, 4) The Community Writing Group, 5) The Sci-fi / Fantasy Focus Group, 6) The Speculative Fiction Focus Group, 7) The Long Form Focus Group, 8) The Short Form Focus Group, 9) The Manuscript Exchange Focus Group, 10) 1-on-1 Manuscript Exchanges, and 11) The Poetry Focus Group. Upcoming Focus Groups include the Memoir Focus group and the Experimental Literary Novel Focus Group.
Submissions and assigned texts for discussion groups are distributed in advance via our member’s only forum (http://peoples-ink.com/forumindex/).
The Structure of a Community Critique Group
A Community Critique Group consists of a submitting author, a facilitator, and up to six additional individuals, drawn from a pool of active members and People’s Ink Observers (potential new members participating for the first time). The composition of each Community Critique Group is created taking into account requests, personalities, literary interests, attendance, and gender. Critique submissions can be in any genre, style, or format, and up to 10,000 words in length, though many submitting authors present fewer words. Submitting to the Community Critique Groups are attendance based meaning that for every 5 attendances in the Community Groups (critique, discussion, and writing groups), members are granted 1 Community Critique Group where they can submit their own writing for review.
The Structure of a Community Discussion Group
There are currently two Community Discussion Group offerings: The Writer’s Craft Discussion Group and the Literary Theory Discussion Group. The objective of a discussion group is not to critique writing submissions, but rather, to delve fully into literary topics for the edification of all discussion group participants. In the case of The Writer’s Craft Discussion Groups, the purpose is to grow our understanding of narrative and language—the ‘how of writing’. In the case of The Literary Theory Discussion Group, the purpose is to explore theoretical philosophical topics and debate regarding their truth and efficacy—the ‘why of writing.'
The Writer’s Craft Discussion Group offers this rotating syllabus:
Discussion 1: Character
Discussion 2: Plot
Discussion 3: Language
Discussion 4: Voice
Discussion 5: Theme
Discussion 6: Surprise!
The Literary Theory Discussion Group offers this rotating syllabus:
Discussion 1: The Writer’s Life—Place, Intention, Extension
Discussion 2: The Anxiety or Ecstasy of Influence
Discussion 3: Aestheticism: A close study of The Beautiful
Discussion 4: Language, Experience, Meaning, Interpretation, Absurdity, and Other Considerations
Discussion 5: Archetypes
Discussion 6: Cognitive Science and Psychoanalysis in Writing
Discussion 7: Socioeconomics and Writing
Discussion 8: Race and Culture in Writing
Discussion 9: Gender and Sexuality in Writing
Discussion 10: Posthumanism in the Humanities
Discussion 11: Surprise!
The Structure of a Community Writing Group
The Community Writing group entails a single activity: writing. There’s fun conversation and beer-drinking, certainly, but for the majority of the meeting, The Community Writing Group consists of quiet-time for members to focus on generating words on page. It’s a great option for those who otherwise have difficulty finding time during their week for motivated writing sessions, as well as for those who are looking for a week off from workshopping, or who are just feeling inspired.
The Structure of a Focus Group
A Focus Group represents a higher level of commitment and seriousness than the typical Community Group. A Focus Group can be a critique group populated by particular kinds of writers seeking particular kinds of critiques; a long-lasting discussion group exploring a particular topic; a writing group that meet regularly for particular exercises; or any combination thereof. A Focus Group’s structure is determined by its participants, including max submission lengths, schedule, submission scheduling, and the activities that occur during each meeting.
Examples of two Focus Group structures: (1) The Manuscript Exchange Focus Group. Novels and long-form pieces only; 50,000 word count max per submission; meetings once every 4-5 weeks; meetings last 2-3 hours; attendance based (1 workshop for every 5 attendances). (2) The Short Form Focus Group. Short fiction/non-fiction; 5k word count max; meetings every other week; meetings last 1.5 hours; includes either two separate member submissions or one member submission and one discussion / writing exercise.
Offering a Critique
A critique consists of a verbal and / or written analysis of a critique group submission. The purpose of a critique is to provide the submitting author with insight regarding how the critique group submission might be improved. A critique group submission can be prose, poetry, an essay, a script, a piece of experimental writing, or a combination thereof.
Regardless the nature of the critique group submission, we ask that our members follow several guidelines when offering a critique.
- Contributions to the critique discussion should be based on a complete and close reading of the critique group submission. This is necessary in order to provide a deep analysis of the writing.
- Contributions to the critique discussion should be succinct and on topic. If you tend toward loquaciousness, please be mindful of allowing other members time to speak.
- Because sharing writing can be an intimate and possibly intimidating experience, contributions to the critique discussion should be offered with both sensitivity and tact. However, honesty is also important. It can be a fine line. When uncertain about which side to error upon, we request that you choose sensitivity and tact.
- Contributions to the critique discussion should take into account the style, genre, draft, and intention of the critique group submission. Taken together, these will determine much of what constitutes a useful contribution. There’s no one size fits all, and to approach the critique in such a way will inevitably lead to inferior and possibly useless contributions. If you feel insufficiently able to critique the writing you were assigned, please contact an administrator and your workshop assignment will be changed.
Please note, if a member’s contributions fail to adhere to the above guidelines, an administrator will be notified, and the offending member will be asked to reread these guidelines and to follow them more closely. If offenses are consistent and egregious, they may constitute grounds for expulsion from The People’s Ink. In practice, few offenses occur, and those that do are typically harmless.
The following list contains acceptable critiques to offer at The People’s Ink. This list is by no means exhaustive of what’s acceptable, nor are all the list’s items acceptable critiques for all critique group submissions. For more information about what qualifies as a acceptable critique, please request participation in The Writer’s Craft Discussion Group and/or The Literary Theory Discussion Group.
- Your reading experience. Is the submission difficult to read? Do the words create a vivid scenario in your mind? Do you skim in an effort to finish quickly? Do you delight in the language and hang on each word? Do you read the submission in one sitting, or over many?
- Your reader response. Do you like the submission? Do you dislike the submission? Why, or why not? What emotions do you experience when reading? Are these the emotions that the author intended, in your estimation? What are your favorite parts of the submission? Which parts are your least favorite?
- Language. Do you find the literary style fascinating, evocative, poetic? Or do you find the literary style dull, dense, and confusing? Generally speaking, your analysis should take into account: (1) word choice, (2) punctuation, (3) rhythm, (4) transitions, (5) ambiance, (6) point of view, (7) and narrative voice, among other aspects of language. The more precisely you can analyze and deconstruct the writing submission into the components of its language usage, the more meaningful your suggestions will become.
- Narration. Do you find the narrative arc compelling? Or do you find it ineffective? Generally speaking, your analysis should take into account: (1) character, (2) plot, (3) action / tension / dramatic stakes, (4) comedic impact, (5) plot twists, (6) climax, and (7) resolution, among other aspects of narrative. As with language, the more precisely you can analyze and deconstruct the writing submission into its narrative components, the more meaningful your suggestions will become.
- Theme. What is the submission’s message? Is this clear? Is it convincing? Is surprising or novel information conveyed? Is old information conveyed in a new way? Does it contribute meaningfully to conversations in its intended subject matter(s)?
- Symbolism. What symbols are present in the characters, events, and descriptions? How are they familiar, and how are they unfamiliar? How do they follow the conventions of the genre that they appear within, and how do they break those conventions? What do the symbols represent? What are their goals? Do they accomplish their goals?
- Commercial Considerations. Can you see a readership for the critique group submission? If yes, where might it find an audience? If not, how might the critique group submission become more commercial?
- Sociocultural. How might differing world cultures respond to the critique group submission? Are characters unintentionally stereotypical? Are characters presented with equality and without bias? What sort of sociocultural messages does the critique group submission convey? Would it have a positive impact upon the world? If so, how?
- Psychoanalytic. Does the critique group submission seem intentionally or unintentionally psychologically revealing of its author? Does the critique group submission serve a personal psychological goal of the writer’s? If so, is this apparent to the reader? Should it be?
What Our Members Say …
Tuesdays find us at candlelit tables
Drinks in hand, we discuss our fables
Feedback, given and taken in good form
We converse, but it is our stories that perform
From novels to novellas
From Mary Sue’s to Cinderella’s
Be it a chapter or a prologue
All’s discussed over wine and grog
We come for good advice
Which we get for a beer’s price
We come hoping to be inspired
And we leave with muses set afire
So visit us on a Tuesday night
Join us, communicate with candlelight
Come for food, kinship and drink
Bring your words to the People’s Ink
– Nicole O.
“I’ve been in a handful of writing groups over the years, but nothing quite like the People’s Ink. At first I was a little wary of joining such a large group. I figured the chemistry I had worked so hard to create with my smaller group would be missing here. I was wrong. The People’s Ink is just a larger family. Best of all, you get out of it what you put in. There are so many opportunities between the various focus groups, manuscript exchanges and craft workshops. You can really tailor your experience based on your level of writing proficiency and where you are with your work. I recommend the People’s Ink to anyone looking to link to a diverse community of writers.”
– Adam S.
“This is an awesome writing group. Let me just put that out there to start. I’ve been in several writing groups over the years in various cities, and The People’s Ink is by far the best one I’ve found. It’s on par with the masters-level writing workshops I participated in during grad school. So yeah, it’s pretty bomb. There are so many wonderful people in the group with varying levels of experience, all genres are welcome, and it’s a really fun, warm bunch of writers. Whether you write short fiction, poetry, novels, or philosophy — seriously, whatever — you’ll find a place here. The feedback I’ve received on my novel-in-progress has been insightful, enlightening, and invaluable. I’ve yet to attend a meeting I didn’t enjoy.”
– Meg S.
“ A bunch of writers, all of them working on different stuff, coming together each week, talking about each others work, helping each other make it better, watching projects develop over time, creating a sense of community. Writers across America — nay, the world! — wish they had this sort of group in their town. And it just so happens that we do. ”
– Charlie F.
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