For our Writers Round Robin meetings we maintain a list, or “queue," of Guild Writers who would like to read a section of their work to other Guild Writers for candid, but constructive feedback. At each meeting the top three Guild Writers on the list are allowed to read a twenty minute segment of a project he or she is working on, e.g. a short story, a chapter or scene from a novel, a scene from a stage or screenplay, a poem or essay, you get the idea. We encourage Writers from all skill levels, novice to published professional, and all genres.
After each reading, the other Guild Writers attending the meeting will, in succession, offer their feedback, constructive criticism, and suggestions for improvement for approximately twenty minutes. Our goal is to be candid and frank with our reviews, specific with our advice for changes, but supportive and heartening of each writer’s efforts.
At the end of each Writers Round Robin the meeting’s hosts, Stephanie Fisher and Zach Eccles will take down the names of those Guild Writers who wish to be added to the queue. Preference is given to new Guild Writers or Writers who are sharing their work for the first time. Readings are strictly voluntary. No one is required to share his or her work in order to participate in Writers Round Robin meetings. No one is even required to give feedback, for that matter. It is perfectly acceptable for Guild Members to simply listen to the readings and the commentary.
Writers who are sharing their work are encouraged, but not required, to provide hard copies for other members at the meeting to follow along and offer written comments and editing suggestions.
If you have never been to a writer’s group where authors share and critique one another’s work, please keep in mind a few guidelines.
(1) Not everyone is going to write in your genre. Quite a few of the submissions will represent books, short stories or articles that you would never have any interest in reading outside of the group. You will hear and read all skill levels of creative writing. Be patient with your fellow authors. We are here to support one another, not to showboat or tear one another down. Everyone’s writing evolves the more they keep at the craft.
(2) When offering your comments, it’s a great idea to start off by telling the author what you liked about their reading. It could be something as simple as a particular verb, adjective or metaphor that popped off the page. Then go into your suggestions about what the author might consider changing. Some people favor the “sandwich” rule of critiquing. Start and end with positive comments, with the constructive, but negative feedback sandwiched in the middle.
(3) When it comes to the negative, try not tell the author absolutely everything you think they should change about their work. Take notes and focus on the larger issues, or the comments that other members have not already mentioned. If all else fails, focus on the grammar.
(4) It helps to be specific with your comments. For example, if the writer uses too many redundant adjectives or modifiers, suggest which ones you would cut or, even better, a distinct noun that makes the use of modifiers unnecessary.
(5) If it is your turn to read for the first time, please do not be discouraged. Any writer who does not develop a thick skin will have a difficult time enjoying this profession. Keep writing, and above all, keep coming back to the meetings and sharing.