Critique Submission Guidelines

Critique Participant Guidelines for the ACFW-SC Chapter

We welcome critique submissions by chapter members and any second-time visitor who has sat in at least one ACFW-SC critique session. However, only manuscripts that follow the guidelines below will be accepted for critiquing.

Note: First time visitors are welcome to participate by observing. Critique sessions provide valuable lessons to every participant.

Material Guidelines for Submissions to be Critiqued (Fiction, Articles, Devotions, Blogs):

  • NOTE: If you plan to bring something to critique, come 15 minutes early to the meeting to sign up.
  • Only attendees who have sat in at least one critique session before can bring manuscripts but all visitors are welcome to sit in and observe
  • Writings can be up to 1000 words written in basic ms (manuscript) format
    • Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced, first sentence in paragraph indented half inch, one-inch margins all around, header and page numbers, black ink)
  • All lines should be numbered (For auto numbering, click on Page Layout in msword, then Line Numbers, and Continuous)
  • Bring 6 copies of your piece so each person can have a copy on which to write notes and return to you. Put YOUR name and title of piece at the top of your first page or in a header,  number pages and staple or clip together to hand out at the table.
  • Optional: you can add 2-3 bullet points at the top of your mss to let readers know where you are seeking most feedback (content, grammar, plotting, beginning hook, or ending)

Table Critique Method:
  • After the guest speaker finishes, critique participants will be assigned to a small critique group of about 4-6 people. Whether you brought a mss or not, you are welcome to participate in a group by listenig and offering feedback.
  • The first writer to share his work will pass out his material. The writer then has 30 seconds to give the group any pertinent background on the piece. (Tell fiction genre, article, or devotion, and maybe where you want to send it, what help you need.)
  • Person to the right, not the author, will then read aloud the piece as others notate their feedback.
  • Person to the left of person being critiqued starts the critique process below. 
  • All critiquers put their name and email at top of each piece in case the writer wants more information.

Critique Process –Each participant who is critiquing has 2-3 minutes to speak to the author using the Oreo Method. 

  • Oreo Cookie method:
    • Something positive
    • The meat of your critique/suggestions
    • Something positive again

  • Mark punctuation and spelling errors on manuscript copy. Save talk time for character, structure, etc.
  • Do not repeat what has already been said and be kind and encouraging as you can be but also offer constructive feedback
  • Person being critiqued cannot respond during critiques—unless asked a question
  • Critique leader is responsible for moving the critique along (reminding about the process at the beginning of the session, keeping comments on track with feedback instead of discussions, and making sure all pieces are given appropriate time)
  • Submitters/Critiquers, please remember to put your name and title on each piece you submit and put your name and email on each piece you help critique so the author can get in touch with you if they have a question.

General things to look for:

  1. Simple industry requirements met: Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced, one-inch margins, header with numbered pages, only black ink used.
  2. Fiction: Catchy title, opening hooks you and keeps you, good characterization and setting, good plotting, good conflict, realistic dialog, strong sensory details (use of 5 senses), action beats vs. speaker attributions, active voice and deep POV (point of view) prevails.
  3. Articles or Devotions: Catchy title, opening hooks you, good organization, clear theme, and progression, heart of message clear, use of illustrations, interesting, some humor is good.
  4. Writing Mechanics: good punctuation, spelling, grammar, parallel sentences, varied sentence structure, correct verb tenses.
  5. Spiritual Content:  Spectrum can vary, especially in fiction. Ron Benrey describes this in his Writing Christian Fiction manual:
    1. At the High End: The Conversion Scene –you tell a story that shows conversion
    2. The Middle Ground: Show Jesus at Work –in the lives of your characters or theme
    3. At the Very Least: You show progress in a lead character’s Christian walk
Note: These guidelines have been compiled from the WordWeavers model and the Cross N Pens model with only a few tweaks. These two models have proven to work well. However, we can always further tweak them as we see the necessity.

Sorry, but we will not attempt to critique poetry at this time. Fiction includes novels, novellas, and short stories of any kind. Articles/devotions/blogs includes for print publications or for online markets.

It is our hope you receive valuable, helpful critiques and encouragement. We are all in this together and growing in our craft.

Fran Strickland Anderson
President, ACFW-SC

For further information email Fran at 

No comments:

Post a Comment