Valley Writers encourages writers of all genres to bring materials to meetings to read and receive comments. The following are suggestions to make the process constructive and productive.
When the vice president calls for readers, please provide the type of piece you want to read (essay, poem, letter, synopsis, short story, part of a chapter, etc.) and approximate reading time/pages.
Test read your piece to determine if it can be read in 5 minutes.
Try and keep reading and critiquing to a total of 15 minutes.
Bring enough copies of your work so that members can follow what is being read. Generally, 10-15 copies suffice. Prose must be double-spaced and limited to 4 pages. Poetry can be single-spaced but limited to 1-2 pages.
Tell the group what you are looking for before you read. If you want to focus on voice, word selection, hooks, poetic form, etc., inform the group so members can provide the commentary you desire.
Please remain quiet when the group is providing commentary. After the group has finished, the reader may add comments.
Please do not explain your work. If it cannot stand alone, e.g., part of a longer piece, then set the background for the readers.
Writers are encouraged to control the order of critique responses themselves.
Only one person should speak at a time. Sidebar conversations are distracting and can be construed as showing disrespect to the reader.
Begin your commentary with words of support (what worked for you). If your commentary is negative, frame the discussion in the most positive manner possible.
Do not feel compelled to repeat what another commentator has previously said, unless a restatement would provide clearer insight into the discussion.
Provide grammar and punctuation corrections on the written copy.
Members are encouraged to add comments on the copy to underscore the oral discussion.
Valley Writers take pride in their work and in the quality of commentary they deliver. We encourage everyone to participate during the commentary phase of the meeting. And for all of us, please check your egos at the door. It is easy to become defensive when your work is the subject of conversation, but that can be counterproductive.