Critique Guidelines

For the Author:

  1. While your work is being critiqued, please withhold your comments or responses until everyone has finished with your piece. You may answer clarifying questions, but be brief.
  2. Remember that critique comments are opinions and suggestions. The reviewers are trying to be helpful. They are not torturing your baby, even if it feels like it.  Also, they are offering suggestions; you, as the author, have final say as to what goes into your work.

For the Reviewers:

  1. Please come prepared. Keep your oral critique and discussion brief and on point.  For example, if you are handing back a marked-up copy of a submission you don’t need to point out every missed comma in your oral critique.  Read and mark-up the manuscripts before each meeting.  But don’t stay away because you were too busy to do your homework.  Just present what you have , but feel free to join in on the general discussion.
  2. Be honest in your critique, and fair, but also be kind. Remember, a critique is an opinion, not fact. Critique the story, not the author. Some comments are best made in writing on the copy handed back to the author. Try to comment on what is right as well as what is wrong.
  3. Be concrete. Give examples. Handing back a line edited copy is very helpful.
  4. Should you find material offensive, or if you simply don’t care to read something, you are not obliged to critique the manuscript. No explanation necessary, simply pass your turn.
  5. Sign your critique to make it easier for people to know who said what.

Submission Guidelines

  1. In order for each writer to receive the full benefit of peer critique, we ask that pieces only be submitted when the author will actually attend the meeting during which their work will be reviewed. Having the opportunity to discuss the author’s work in person provides the writer, as well as the reviewers, the optimum critique experience.
  2. Submissions should be submitted as an email attachment to (rtf format is preferred) and are due 9:00 PM one week before a meeting to allow time for distribution and review.  Alternatively, paper copies of a work can be distributed at a meeting for review at the next meeting.  Be aware that paper copies may exclude some potential reviewers if they are not present for the distribution.  Also, paper copies prevent reviewers from using tools built into word processors.
  3. Submissions of 5000 words or less will be  reviewed at the next meeting. Those over 5000 but less than 10000 words will be reviewed at the second meeting to allow extra time for the reviewers.  Submissions over 10000 words should be broken into smaller pieces.  Should there be no other submissions for the next meeting, with the author’s consent, the work may be put up for review at the next meeting
  4. Submissions should be complete enough for meaningful review. For novels, an entire chapter is usually appropriate. For short stories, a scene or the entire story would suffice.
  5. It is useful to reviewers to know if you are working against strict word limits, either maximum or minimum.

Formatting Guidelines

Please notice that these are guidelines not rules.  We will not refuse to critique a work because of formatting.  The guidelines below, however, will result in a professional looking document that is easier to critique and would be suitable for submission to many publications.

  1. Standard paper (8 ½ x 11), one side only, double spaced, with inch to inch and a quarter (1 – 1¼) margins all around.
  2. Do not use fancy fonts.  Ten or twelve point Times New Roman or Courier are clean and easy to read.  Do not right justify the right margin; let it be “ragged.”
  3. For WordWrites Guild, a cover page is not required.
  4. Either is okay for WordWrites Guild, but editors prefer paper clips over staples.
  5. The first page should begin with the title, your by line, your address (may be omitted for WordWrites Guild), your email address, the word count (approximate is good enough), and any special notes.  Also note if it is not a complete, standalone work (e.g. Character sketch, partial scene, etc.)  Example:

A Dark and Stormy Night
By P .D. G. Writer
5678 Some St.
Bright, IN 47025
4550 words
Chapter One of a Novel

  1. Do not include your Social Security number.  If the work sells you will be asked for it as part of the contract.
  2. Copyright citation is not needed.  It’s a given, and professionals regard it as a sign of an amateur.
  3. All pages after the first should have a header containing your last name, the title, and the page number.
  4. Separate scenes with a line containing three centered asterisks or pound signs.  Examples:

* * *
# # #

  1. As appropriate, end the submission with “The End” or “To Be Continued.”

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