Fiction Writers Critique Group Guidelines

John Jermain’s Fiction Writers Critique Group meets weekly on Thursdays throughout the year from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Frequently, the sessions run long but rarely past 7:30.

Writers bring three or four pages to read aloud, along with enough copies of those pages for everyone in the group to follow along and mark up. (See the guidelines below for how many copies to bring.) A discussion period follows each reading where the other writers offer friendly, and hopefully useful, criticisms and suggestions. Humor is frequently employed. Defensiveness is discouraged. If you tend to feel defensive about your writing, this group is probably not for you.

A weekly email is sent to all members by our unofficial group leader, Ms. Bossypants, asking members whether they will be attending that week.

Over the years, the size of the group has grown, and it has become necessary to create some informal guidelines to ensure that every writer receives the attention to which they are entitled.

The Guidelines

We have found that while we can fit up to ten people in the meeting room, the group works best if no more than six writers read their work per session. While this is not a hard-and-fast rule, the clock generally dictates what is possible.

  • Start on time (5:30 p.m.)
  • Limit your reading to 3-4 pages unless time allows and the group agrees that you can read more.
  • If you’ve been really industrious and have many pages you want to read, let us know at the beginning and plan to read last. That way you can keep going until we pull the plug.
  • Limit feedback to things like craft and continuity. Mark grammar and spelling corrections on your copy of the writer’s work.
  • If you agree with someone’s feedback, just say so. Don’t repeat it.
  • If you have something new to add, by all means, say it.
  • When receiving feedback, mostly just listen and make notes. Ask questions if something’s not clear, but try not to get into a lengthy discussion. Save your editing for your own time.
  • If you feel the need to discuss some points with one of us about your work, email, call, or talk with them after group is finished.
  • Reply to all when you get the email on Wednesdays asking who’s coming. That way we’ll know whether there are enough of us to meet and how many copies to make.
  • Be sure to notice how many of us are attending so you can bring the correct amount of copies.
  • Keep writing!