Critique Participant Guidelines for Table Groups - ACFW-SC Chapter Dec. 2019
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 chapter members who have sat in at least one critique session before can bring manuscripts but all visitors are welcome to sit in, listen, and offer feedback)
▪ Writings can be up to 1200 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 (When in your manuscript, click on Page Layout in msword, then Line Numbers, and then Continuous and the numbers will be added!)
▪ Bring 5-6 copies of your piece so each person can have a copy on which to write notes and return to you. Put YOUR name, genre, and title of piece, at the top of your first page or in a header, number pages and staple 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 our brief meeting and guest speaker finishes everyone will be assigned to a small critique group of about 4-6 people. (Whether you brought a ms or not, you are welcome to participate in a group. See note below.)
▪ 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--fiction genre, article,
or devotion, and maybe where you want to send it.
· Option: Take three minutes for everyone to read over silently. Place dot where you see error.
· All critiquers put their name and email at top of each piece in case the writer wants more information
▪ Person to the right, not the author, will then read aloud the piece as others notate their feedback.
Reader must not stop to make corrections. Place a dot at end of sentence and come back later.
▪ Person to the left of person being critiqued starts the critique process below.
Note: First time visitors are welcome to participate by listening and providing feedback. One can learn a lot about writing in our critique groups.
Critique Process –Go around circle, each critiquer taking about 2-3 minutes.
▪ Oreo Cookie method: Something positive
The meat of your critique/suggestions
Something positive again
▪ Others note on their copy whether they agree or disagree and comments
▪ Try not to repeat what has already been said when your turn comes, be as kind and encouraging as you can be but also offer constructive feedback
▪ Person being critiqued cannot respond/explain during critiques—unless asked a question.
▪ If you’ve shared your critique, don’t jump in and comment when someone else is critiquing.
▪ 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.
■ Critiquers, please never say, “I had a hard time following this because I don’t like, or I never read, this genre.” As writers we can look for good (or poor) writing in every fiction genre and find something positive to encourage a fellow writer as well as give suggested corrections. ( :
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. Showing, not telling.
3) Writing Mechanics: good punctuation, spelling, grammar, parallel sentences, varied sentence structure, correct verb tenses.
4) 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.
5) Spiritual Content: Spectrum can vary, especially in Christian fiction.
Here is how Ron Benrey describes this in his Writing Christian Fiction manual:
At the High End: The Conversion Scene –you tell a story that shows conversion
The Middle Ground: Show Jesus at Work –in the lives of your characters or theme
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 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.
Happy Writing! It is our hope you get valuable, helpful critiques and encouragement.
We are all in this together and growing in our craft.
Elva Cobb Martin