First Look Critique Group

​First Look Critique is designed for writers who want to have their manuscripts critiqued as a whole. Manuscripts must be finished to be considered. This ensures the writer has set aside time to critique others in the group without the competition of finishing their own work, improving the entire group. 

Two to five members of the Woodlands Writing Guild will comprise a group. Each week, the group’s chosen coordinator will email each author’s submission, no more than 5,000 words.

Five days are allotted for critiquing. The group will decide to either meet in person or online. Allowing time to read one another’s work offline encourages thoughtful comments about character development, use of setting, and continuity.

Be prepared for a significant time commitment. The Woodlands Writer Guild requires First Look members to retain activity in the community critiques sessions, where the craft of writing can be passed to newer writers.


This secondary critique group is designed to help writers with completed novels move faster through the critique process before publication. All members must meet strict criteria.

  • Work submitted must be part of a completed manuscript.

    • Each author is responsible for polishing their submissions before each session.

  • Work cannot be published or in the process of publishing.

  • Members of the First Look group must be committed to their fellow authors.

  • Critiques must be completed before the group meets.

  • First Look members must be Woodland Writing Guild members and remain active in community critiques. 

    • Minimum of one community critique per quarter.

  • Minimum of two members, maximum of five members per First Look group.


These are guidelines. Groups may adapt to their individual needs.

  • The group will appoint a coordinator before critiquing begins. 

    • The coordinator will be responsible for scheduling meetings, and securing locations (if physical meetings are decided upon)

  • Weekly meetings are suggested, but the frequency is up to the group.

  • The format of the manuscripts, as well as the delivery of the manuscripts, will be agreed upon by the group. We recommend submissions no longer than 5,000 words.

  • Critiqued submissions must be returned to their respective authors in a fashion that is agreed upon by the group. 

  • 20-minute critiques per submission are adequate during the meeting.

  • Only owners of the submission are allowed to keep copies. Members must delete or shred submissions from all devices in preparation for the following week’s workload. 


Why must I attend both First Look and regular community critiques?

The goal is not to replace the community groups. Not all writers are novelists. More experienced writers are needed to help writers in all stages.


Can my book be a first draft?

Your manuscript does not have to be pristine. Remember, you will be critiquing roughly 5,000-20,000 words per week and feedback on your work will be better if members are not tripped up by bad punctuation or formatting.


Does everyone use the same software?

Not every writer uses Word. The group must decide on the best file format that is compatible with everyone’s software. 


Do critiques have to be twenty minutes per submission?

No. The group will decide how much time should be dedicated to each submission.