This is an LCRW function. You may participate one time only if you are a non-member.
ALL manuscripts must be emailed to the moderator by midnight on Monday the week of the critique. Any submissions received after that will be handled as time permits at the end of the critique session.
Critiques will be discussed in the order they are received.
Everyone who submits a manuscript will be expected to critique the other entries. However, we always have people who wish to share their knowledge of writing yet not submit. Those wishing to only critique are always welcome. (Special instructions to those participants will be sent to those individuals.)
Your manuscript must be formatted using: Times Roman, Courier, Tahoma, or Verdana font at 12 points. Margins should be to one inch. Double space. (Those who critique on a computer may wish to reformat your margins. Please indicate if you mix margin spacing in your manuscript.)
Page numbers should always be used. Line numbers are encouraged.
Starting time is 9:30AM. Please be ready to start then. 1605 Buffalo Rd, Rochester, NY 14624 Parking is in the rear. Enter via the Police Annex. We are the first room on the left.
The following information should be on the first page before your story begins. (You may wish to copy/paste the following to your manuscript to answer them.)
- Demographic (target audience):
- How long is the final piece (short story, novel):
- Is there backstory we need to know to understand what is going on:
- Where does this fit in your manuscript (i.e.: two-thirds of the way through):
- What questions do you wish answered:
When critiquing, consider:
- Are the characters developed? (You may not get to this in a limited piece)
- Is there a strong sense of the setting/time
Is it original (Not a requirement. Some of the best stories are a retelling/imagining of a classic.)
When You Are Reviewing Another Person’s Work
Being a good critic will make you a better writer; being a good citizen will make you a welcome, productive member of the group. So when you are evaluating another’s work:
- Try to always begin with a positive comment. It’s as important for writers to know what’s working in their writing as to know what’s not.
- Be specific and objective. Offer suggestions, not just criticisms. If something doesn’t work for you, or if you think there is a weakness in the writing, try to identify specifically what the problem is and how it could be fixed.
- Don’t get personal. Direct your comments to the writing, not the writer. Subjective comments such as “that’s stupid,” or “I hate it” don’t do anyone any good – the writer certainly doesn’t benefit if you don’t take the time to figure out what it is you don’t like and why. Learning to think critically about someone else’s work and articulating your impressions will make you a much better self-editor.
- Unless it’s a grammar/composition assignment, don’t focus on individual mechanical problems. This is not a copyediting exercise. The role of the group critique is to get the overall reactions of other writers on the work as a whole, not to focus on the mechanics.
- Remember that in most workshops you will only see a portion of a longer piece or a work in progress. Critique questions and/or discussion topics will be posted with each selected work. Please focus your comments as directed, and not on what’s “not there.”
- Don’t repeat what others have already said. You are encouraged to say something along the lines of: “I agree with the comment about XXXXX.” This lets the recipient know it is not just one person that has an issue with a particular item. There is no need to restate the reasons. Go beyond the obvious and try to dig deeper into the work. When it’s your turn to be evaluated, you’ll appreciate a wide variety of thoughtful comments; be prepared to offer the same to your classmates.
- And, since your turn will come, do unto others…. Remember, your work will eventually be in the spotlight, and you’ll be in the hot seat. Treat the work of others with the courtesy and respect it deserves and that you’d expect in return. Personally disparaging remarks, argumentative behavior, foul language, and just plain rudeness have no place in session and will not be tolerated. If you disrupt the discussion or violate the spirit or intent of the group critique exercise.
When Your Work is Being Reviewed
We know how hard it is to put your work (and by extension, yourself) on the line. Remember that the people who will be reviewing your work here are your peers. They all face the same challenges and difficulties that you do. Their writing isn’t perfect; they’re still learning; they don’t know everything either. Together you can help each other by sharing insights, creative suggestions, and support. So when your writing is selected for group critique:
- Stay out of the discussion unless you are asked a direct question. This will be the most difficult rule to follow, but it is perhaps the most important, both to your growth as a writer and to the productivity of the discussion. You will want to defend your work. You will want to explain why you did something a particular way or why your classmates didn’t understand what you wrote. The need to respond to a challenge to your writing will be as instinctive as the need to protect your own children. You must resist. Let the work speak for itself and let the group react without your intrusion. It is not unusual to have six or seven people critiquing each submission. Side conversation and discussions cost valuable time.
- Don’t take negative comments personally. No one’s here to hurt you or to pass judgment on you. It would be nice if all the reactions you ever got to your writing were positive. But if that were the case, you probably wouldn’t be here in the first place. You came here to improve your writing and sometimes that means listening to some hard truths. So, accept everyone’s comments- good and bad- in the spirit in which they were given, as suggestions from writers just like you who want to help each other get better.
- Give it some time to sink in. Read all of the comments carefully and think about what each person is really saying. Give equal consideration to all comments- even the ones you don’t agree with. It’s a good idea to copy the discussion window contents at the end of your session so that you can refer back to it later, and take plenty of time to think about what’s been said.
- Give your peers a break. They are looking at your work for the first time, and they are only looking at a portion of it. They may make comments or speculate about something that you know would be clear if they could read the rest of the piece. As we’ve already mentioned, the point of this exercise is not to defend your work or to prove how smart you are. If someone makes a suggestion that you try a particular method or reveal a specific piece of information and you know you’ve done exactly that in the very next paragraph after this assignment ends, fine. At least you know that your instincts were good, and you can consider the comment a reminder that you’re on the right track. Many times you’ll be able to say to yourself, “I did that already,” or “that question will be answered by the end of the article.” But just as often you’ll say, “I never thought of that,” or “I didn’t think the reader would be interested in that information,” or, “I thought I was clear on that point, but I guess it still needs some work.”
- Remember, this is your work and you must ultimately make the creative decisions that feel right to you. Whatever the group’s response, you should:
- Stick with an idea that is deeply interesting to you, even if it needs a lot of work
- Never compromise your vision for the piece
- Try everything to see what works and what doesn’t
- Please yourself first