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Evanston Writers Workshop Pages

Meetings take place each Wednesday of the month. They last approximately two hours. The 1st and 3rd are the Critique Group, and the 2nd and 4th are the Prompt Group. If there is a fifth Wednesday in a month, nothing is regularly scheduled. Special events are sometimes done on the fifth Wednesday.

Prompt Group:

We are peer-led, and members can sign up to be the prompt facilitator for the evening. We use between four and six prompts during the two hours and come away with a fresh perspective. These sessions are designed to 'prime the pump' and keep us writing in new and unexpected ways.

Critique Group:

Submission requirements:

  • You are required to attend two critique group meetings before submitting a manuscript for review. You will not critique at your first meeting. This is orientation, to see how things are done and ask questions.
  • You are required to critique at least one manuscript before submitting one of your own for critique. This may be done the second meeting you attend or later.

  • Before you post a submission for critique, you must give the Critique Group Coordinator (Debbie) a valid email address so you can be contacted directly if there is a problem with your posted work. You may do this in person, by email, or by signing up at the Evanston Writers Workshop Org, (http://www.evanstonwr...) web page.

  • No censorship is allowed in this group. Therefore, clearly indicate if your work contains explicit sex, realistic or surrealistic violence.
  • Submissions must be posted to the site no later than midnight Friday before the meeting.
  • Reposts after this time—unless requested by the Critique Group Coordinator—will be done at the following meeting.
  • Manuscripts will have one (1) inch margins all around: top, right, left, and bottom. Word defaults to 1.25 inches. You will have to change this.
  • The typeface will be either Cambria 12 point, Times New Roman 12 point, or Arial 12 point.
  • Full double spaced. That means a full 12 point blank space between the lines of text.
  • All manuscripts will have a header on each page with at least the author’s last name and title (or abbreviated title) of the piece. Alternatively, the author’s name can be in the footer.
  • Page numbers will be in either the header or footer on each page.
  • Line numbers are suggested. You may have them restart each page, or run continuously through the document.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph rather than adding space between paragraphs. Save paper and trees.
  • Paragraphs should be left justified, ragged right margin.
  • Do not put fancy formatting, word art, etc. in your manuscript.
  • There is an approximate 3000 word maximum for a manuscript. If your manuscript is over 3,300 words, break it into two parts if possible or contact the Critique Group Coordinator (
  • You are required to have line edited your own submission for proper spelling, punctuation, and basic grammar at least once before submission.
  • What you specifically want from the critique, as well as what you don’t want.
  • For longer works, a synopsis of the preceding parts.

Explanatory notes:
Attending two meetings: You will not critique at your first meeting. This is orientation, to see how things are done, meet other members, tell us about yourself and your writing, and ask questions.

Critiquing one manuscript before submitting: This should be at your second critique group meeting. This way, we can make sure you understand and are comfortable with the process.

No censorship is allowed in this group: Therefore, clearly indicate if your work contains explicit sex, or realistic or surrealistic violence so those who don’t want to read about such things won’t get surprised. No one is required to read anything they find distasteful.

Submission deadline of midnight Friday: Critiquing and editing take time. You have to give the other members of the group enough time to get through your piece and two others. That’s somewhere between 9,000 and 10,000 words. You will find that you appreciate this the more critiquing you do. We will go over three submissions per session. If you post something to the list after the deadline or if there are already three or more in front of you, your pieces will be done in a following session. Submissions are reviewed in the order received.

Reposting after the deadline is highly frowned upon: It causes confusion when different people have downloaded different versions.

Manuscripts have one inch margins: This allows enough room for hand written side comments without wasting paper when printed out. Note that Word defaults to 1.25 inches. In Microsoft Word, you change this in the “Format Document” dialog under the “Format” menu. Change this to the default by clicking the “Default” button in the dialog.

Typeface either Cambria, Times New Roman, or Arial, all in 12 point: Every one has these typefaces on their computer, regardless of operating system.

Full double spacing: This is the way most publications require a manuscript. It is necessary for those of us who prefer to mark up a hard copy rather than edit in line (on the computer). It also is easier for those of us who do our editing electronically. Be sure not to add extra space between paragraphs.

All manuscripts will have a header: We need to know what belongs to whom. Printouts get dropped, sometimes before they are stapled.

Page numbers: In either the header or footer. The reason is obvious.

Line numbers: These are a good idea, whether you have the numbering restart on each page or continuous. They make it easier to find the part about which the reviewer is speaking. If all formatting requirements are followed, everyone should “be on the same page” so to speak.

We suggest you turn off “widow/orphan control”: Widow and orphan control is used in publishing to keep from leaving a single line of a paragraph on one page with the rest on the preceding or following page. In a manuscript, it just wastes paper. In Microsoft Word, this is controlled in the “Paragraph” dialog box under the “Format” menu.

No fancy formatting: This will not be accepted by a publisher, so get the habit now. Eye candy just gets in the way. I wish Microsoft realized that.

Approximate 3000 word limit: Don’t abuse your reviewers by pushing the limit. If your submission is over 3,300 words, ask me for permission to post the whole thing. If you ask, you’ll probably get it, or I’ll help you find an acceptable place to split it. If you don’t, I’ll take it down. We all understand how important the critiques are to you (just as they are for us), and I’ll be as accommodating as I reasonably can.

Line editing before submission: There are three reasons for this:

  • Do not try to make everyone else correct simple mistakes or problems you can find and fix yourself.
  • This is very good and necessary training. The more you do it, the less you will have to do it.

What you want from the critique: For example, if you don’t want line by line editing, say so. Line by line editing is very time consuming. Note that if a reviewer thinks you need something you didn’t ask for or don’t want, they will tell you they think you need it. Be honest. If what you are really looking for is some reassurance or encouragement, say so:

Synopses: If the submission is part of a longer work, post a separate synopsis of the preceding material. The synopsis should be as short as possible. Aim for approximately fifty (50) to one hundred (100) words per each previous submission or chapter of preceding material—but with enough information that the reader will not be puzzled by what happens in the current submission. Synopses do not count towards the length of your submission.

You will receive approximately five verbal reviews, and everyone in attendance will give you a hard copy of their edits and commentary. For a description of what you will receive, see the document “Reviewing and Editing” also attached to this email (and posted online).

Help with all of the above is available for the asking. The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask. If at any time you have trouble with a document downloaded from the “Files” section of the Evanston Writer’s Workshop site, please contact me immediately.

We also have a meeting place on Facebook

Lastly, if you decide you like the group and are going to attend regularly, we ask that you join for a modest $25 a year to help out with our expenses. You can become a member at

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Table of Contents

Page title Most recent update Last edited by
Critiquing and Editing Requirements September 13, 2011 12:52 PM former member
Why a Writing Meetup? March 30, 2007 9:13 AM former member
About Evanston Writers Workshop September 29, 2015 8:33 PM Debbie

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