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Official FAQ


What does "MinnSpec" mean?

Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers. Sometimes you'll see people spell it MNspec. Our original name was Twin Cities Speculative Fiction Writers Network, which nobody could pronounce (TCSFWN?), so we changed it.

How do I use MinnSpec?

First, sign up! It's free and will let you access all of the website features.

The most important part of our site is the front page. You can see what events are coming up and RSVP for them. You can come to all of our events, some of them, or just lurk on the website (though that wouldn't be as much fun.) Here's a sample of the events that we organize:

• Roundtable discussions – A monthly discussion of craft, editing, marketing, and the writerly life.
• Critique group – See what other spec fic writers think of your work. More on this later on in the FAQ.
• East Saint Paul (ESP) writers meetup – A monthly workshop and critique group that meets in East Saint Paul.
• Kaffeklatsch – We offer a local pro author lunch or dinner, then once we've lured them in, we ask them questions. In the past we've hosted Patricia C. Wrede, Pamela Dean, Naomi Kritzer, and Lyda Morehouse (aka Tate Halloway.)
• WordBrew – Each November, MinnSpec writers give readings of their work at the Acadia Cafe. Lots of fun. Everyone welcome. There will be alcohol.
• Movie night – When there's a good spec-related movie in theaters, we band together to watch it.

The next most important part of the MinnSpec website is the Discussions tab. Check out the forum to discuss writing, propose ideas for meetups, and submit manuscripts for the critique group. If you are a new member, say hello here:

Go to the Pages tab to read general information and FAQs about Minnspec, the Members tab to see who's here, and Photos to look at photos.

I write about sword-wielding post-apocalyptic robot unicorns. Can I join?

According to Wikipedia, speculative fiction is "an umbrella genre encompassing narrative fiction with supernatural or futuristic elements. This includes the genres science fiction, fantasy, horror and supernatural fiction, as well as their combinations."

At MinnSpec we define speculative fiction broadly. If your story is about the way the world doesn't normally work, it's speculative. Even if you're not sure if your work is speculative, you're welcome to join.

That sounds fun, but I haven't written anything yet. Can I join?

Yes. MinnSpec welcomes writers of all experience levels, from people who like the idea of writing a story to published authors. We also have members who are writer spouses, first readers, editors, or are just generally supportive of writers. Writers need readers, so come and feel welcome.

I have an idea for a workshop.

Great! The best way to make it happen is to post about it on the Forum or bring it up at one of our meetups. We're always looking for ideas.

I want to get involved.

It's easy to help out! Really, really easy. If you come to meetings and pitch ideas for long enough, you'll be an Assistant Organizer before you know what hit you. MinnSpec has been such a long-lasting writer's group because we're eager to recruit people to leadership. Assistant Organizers have extra permissions on the website – they can schedule events and discuss the direction of the group in the leadership forum.

If you haven't been shanghaied yet, you can also ask to be made an Assistant Organizer.

Crit Group

I'm nervous about this. Can I just watch?

Sure. You don't have to write and submit something to come to the crit group. After your first time, we do ask that you read other people's manuscript submissions.

What will happen?

We'll pick a manuscript to be the first to go in the "hot seat." Each person at the crit group meeting will have 3 minutes to discuss what they liked and didn't like about it. When the readers have finished, then the writer gets a turn to respond to comments. Then we'll move on to the next manuscript. The critique group usually takes about an hour and a half.

How do I read submissions?

We use Google Groups to distribute manuscripts to the crit group attendees. Request to join our Google Group here:

If you have a Google account, you'll be able to see the manuscripts here:

Otherwise, check your inbox for messages from

How do I submit a manuscript?

Every month we post a sign-up list for the critique group in the forum. Add your name to the list.

Then join our Google Group.

You can submit by posting a topic to the group. The subject of the post should be [MSP Crit] year-month yourname. For example, [MSP Crit] 2017-05 Terry Faust. Describe your submission in the body of the post and include your submission as an attachment.

You can also submit a manuscript by e-mail. Write the e-mail like this:

Subject: [MSP Crit] year-month yourname
Body: A description of your critique submission.
Attachment: Your manuscript.

How do I format a manuscript?

Keep it simple. Standard manuscript format is great. Many agents and editors will want to see your manuscript this way anyway.

Turn on Invisibles in your word processor. If you see anything other than · , ¶, or →, remove it. Exotic formatting makes readers' lives harder!

It's a good idea to include your e-mail at the beginning of the manuscript so readers can e-mail you a detailed critique.

Use .rtf, .doc, or .docx.

At the end of your submission write THE END if the story is complete or TO BE CONTINUED if there's more.

Anything else I should know?

The submission deadline for the critique group is seven days before we meet. Submissions are limited to 10,000 words.

Our Google Group for critique submissions is private. Make sure it stays private. If everybody on the internet can see a manuscript, it's considered "published," and publishing houses and magazines won't want to buy first publication rights later.

How do I give a good critique?

I'm still scared.

We don't bite! MinnSpec is a supportive community that wants to help you grow as a writer, no matter how far along you are in your career.

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
MinnSpec Podcast May 6, 2012 6:20 PM Abra
Some Other Useful Websites for Local Writers January 26, 2012 9:20 AM Hilary Moon M.
Tips for Constructive Critiques June 5, 2017 10:19 AM Margaret T.
Official FAQ June 5, 2017 10:16 AM Margaret T.
About MinnSpec -- Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers April 11, 2017 11:31 AM Abra

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