One of the most useful elements of any writing group is peer review. Without wanting to seem po-faced, as Speculators, we are all committed to improving our own writing, and helping others in the group to do the same. We don’t dress in cheerleader skirts (though we may occasionally shake our pom-poms), but we take this seriously enough to spend time considering each others’ writing and being accorded the same in turn. It’s a quid pro quo relationship. Members can only bring their own work to critique (no sneakily bringing your mother’s gothic potboiler along!)
7pm – 9pm. Wednesdays are generally used for personal writing, but if members want to have a story critiqued then, here are the ground rules:
Inform the group in advance, if possible. Because Wednesday sessions are short, stories or story extracts should be no more than 2000 words long (15 minutes reading time) Please bring enough copies of the story for everyone to have a copy to read.
As they read, critiquers note on the story any comments, grammar corrections and so forth, which can be handed to the writer at the end to help with their redrafting. After the reading the group will offer constructive feedback on the story. Please be prepared to hear both positive and negative comments on your story. As we go round the table, each commenter has 3 minutes to speak, during which everyone else remains silent, including the person whose story is being critiqued. This is not a conversation. The next person gives feedback once the writer has written down any notes they wish regarding the previous feedback. When everyone else has given feedback, the writer has 3 minutes to respond to the feedback, clarifying any questions raised, etc.
1pm to 5pm. Most Speculator critique sessions take place on Saturdays, usually arranged in advance. They can be sporadic, depending on demand from the group based on how much writing is going on. With several members working on novels, Saturday sessions have been coming thick and fast. In the week before an arranged session, members who want to have work included must speak up to confirm a spot with an expected word length. We like to try to include as many pieces as we can in each session, but there’s an element of horse-trading that goes on; If you had a long excerpt critiqued at the previous session, you might bring a shorter chapter, or step back for the next one to allow someone else to have a go. We generally like stories/excerpts up to a maximum of 5000 words, but can sometimes be flexible if someone else has a much shorter piece or some flash fiction. We’re a pretty egalitarian bunch, and don’t usually bite. Most of this discussion takes place on the Speculators mailing list.
If the above sounds like something that would work for you, feel free to drop by any of our Wednesday sessions, or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions.