Critique Guidelines

In order to provide every member with an opportunity to read and receive feedback, we've instituted the rules and procedures below. Please familiarize yourself with them and if you have any questions, contact a board member via the email address at the bottom of this page.

Guidelines for material to be read at critique sessions:

  • Hard Guidelines (If not met, material will not be permitted):

    • Double-spaced (no single-spaced)

    • Font:

      • Preferred – Times New Roman or an equally legible, standard font

      • No smaller than 12-point size

      • 1-inch Margins

    • 10-page maximum

      • If you have more that you would like to present, you may ask if members wish to regroup somewhere after the meeting to hear remainder.

    • Author must be present to have material read.

      • No second party readers are permitted without the author present to receive the critique.

      • If work is co-authored, multiple authors are not to read more than 10 pages in total from an individual manuscript or piece.

  • Soft Guidelines:

    • Bring printed handouts. No set number, on average 8. (Help us help you)

    • Bring excerpt to be read on a flash drive for Saturday meetings and be prepared to work with the computer. Projecting your excerpt is helpful but not mandatory.

    • Add line and page numbers to assist readers in giving specific feedback.

    • Know your piece well enough to rate it, G, PG or Adult.

 

Sign-in sheet:

  • Rating:

    • G: General – For all audiences, including young members and guests.

    • PG:

      • Language - Mild

      • Sex – Fondling, necking, deep kissing, second-base, etc.

      • Death - Nongraphic

    • Adult:

      • Language – Excessive/Explicit

      • Sex – Erotica, penetration, porn

      • Violence – Graphic, rampant, cringe-worthy

      • Death – Gory, perverse, bloody, descriptive

      • Controversial material.

      • Ask a Board Member, if unsure.

 

Information to provide before reading:

  • What is this:

    • stand-alone story

    • short story

    • poem

    • memoir

    • non-fiction

    • fiction

      • Genre

  • If this is part of a novel…

    • Where are we in the story

    • Who do we need to know to understand the story

      • Quick synopsis

  • Are you looking for specific feedback?

 

 

Guidelines for Critique:

Save grammatical error and typos for the handout, unless it is a repeated issue in the piece.

Consider: POV (Point of View) changes, logic errors, clarity problems, missed opportunities, flaws in character development, pacing problems, and inconsistent tone or voice.

  • 2 minutes per review (Reader may only answer a direct question, if posed by critic.)

  • Please do not interrupt a critique to add your input.

  • Reader will have 2 minutes for rebuttal after all reviews have been shared.

 

When critiquing:

  • It is not necessary to review every piece presented. If you don’t have constructive feedback that might help the writer, simply refrain from reviewing. “I hate it” type of comments will not be tolerated. They are unhelpful and often hurtful.

  • Make sure you try to begin your feedback with what you liked about the story.

  • Be diplomatic - not all people are at the same level in their writing.

  • Explain why you think the scene didn’t work and offer a suggestion on how to improve the work rather than just pointing out the error.

  • If after speaking, you think of something additional to add, please write it down and wait until after the meeting to discuss with the presenter one on one.

  • When critiquing, make your point or comment once – explain further, only if necessary. Please don’t engage in argument simply to ‘prove’ your point.

 

When being critiqued (and during rebuttal):

  • Try to refrain from being defensive. These critiques are not personal. We want to help. We’re on the same team here. If something is shared that you don’t agree with, let it go. Take what works for you and leave the rest. Some of it might be utter twaddle.

  • Remember, critiquing is subjective and only one person’s opinion. Writing is an art. Yes, there are general guidelines of the English language but some of them are open to interpretation and ever evolving.

  • That said, if more than three people make the same comment about your piece, you might rethink the scene, word choice, or issue.

  • In the end, it is still your story, so your decision is the one that counts.