Hello, and thank you for your interest in the Ventura Fiction Writers Group.
We are a small, select group of talented writers who meet regularly to improve the quality and salability of each others’ fiction. The majority of our members write novels, although we entertain short-format fiction, as well. We do not read or critique memoirs or other forms of non-fiction.
This group operates on two tiers, though they do not necessarily exclude each other. We developed this two-tiered approach to accommodate the different time demands and types of critique required by short or in-progress works and by novel-length, completed works.
Tier One Members
Tier One’s focus is on a developing work.
Tier One members critique, on a chapter-by-chapter basis, our members’ works in progress. We feel chapter-by-chapter review helps keep a developing novel on course, providing feedback while allowing for ongoing revision. It also provides the author with motivation to keep writing even when the going gets tough. However, this is not a feel-good, pat-on-the-head group, nor is it intended as a class for inexperienced writers. Although our critique is constructive, we don’t pull our punches. We require members to read and critique other members’ work and we readily offer suggestions and ideas for improvement.
Critique is always given in a respectful way. Personal attacks are not tolerated. The focus is always on the work before us. We ask authors to listen to the other members’ critiques in silence unless asked a direct question; after the critique is over, the author may engage the reviewers in further dialog. This keeps the session moving in a timely fashion and ensures that everybody’s comments are heard.
Tier Two Members
Tier Two’s focus is on a completed work.
Tier Two is entirely focused on critiquing a member’s completed work, usually a novel that is ready for revision. The novel is critiqued by Tier Two members in its entirety. One need not have a completed novel up for review to be a Tier Two member; however, the bar is set higher for skill level and commitment for this tier. The increased value of critique in Tier Two is that large-scale problems with plot coherence, character development, or other issues that may have escaped notice during the chapter-by-chapter process of Tier One critique can be caught and remedied here.
All new members enter the group as Tier One and are accepted into Tier Two according to their skill level and/or the state of their work in progress. Members need not join Tier Two if they lack the interest or time to read and critique long works. Novels that are developed and completed through Tier One critique are eligible for Tier Two critique.
If you are interested in applying for membership, please provide us with a sample of your writing that is no longer than 10 pages in length. E-mail your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your sample should be in the form of an attached Microsoft Word document, not a PDF. Your writing sample will be read by the group members, who will determine, by vote, whether they feel your skill level is appropriate for this group. You will be notified of the group’s decision within one to two weeks of its receiving your submission. If the skill level indicated by your sample is considered appropriate, you’ll be invited to read one of the other members’ works and attend a group session; this allows the group to see how well you accept and offer critique and allows you to get a sense of whether this group will be right for you. A final membership decision will be made after the initial critique session.
Critique takes an investment of time and energy on the part of all group members, so please be sure that you are willing to read and critique the work of other writers when you apply.
Though our group is exclusive to fiction, we welcome all genres. There is no prohibition on subject matter or discrimination based on an author’s or a character’s race or religion, gender or variations of gender expression, age, nation of origin or ancestry, disability, marital status or sexual orientation. We appreciate diversity, for by it and through the critique of diverse works we become better writers. Should you as a member be offended by a work, you may, of course, recuse yourself from critique.