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Rules & Guidelines


The primary purpose of each critique session shall be to provide constructive criticism.

Page Submission Rules & Things to Keep in Mind:

  1. Deadline to submit words for critique ONCE A MONTH:

    • 11:59pm on 1st Saturday of the Month

  2. Deadline to submit words for critique TWICE A MONTH: 

    • 1st Deadline(for once & twice a month critiques): 11:59pm on 1st Saturday of the Month

    • 2nd Deadline(only for twice a month critiques): 11:59pm on the 3rd Saturday of the Month

  3. Submit up to 5000 words via the submission form button on this page.

    • Accepted file format: .doc, .docx, .pdf

    • Double Spaced​

    • 1-inch margins

    • size 12 font

  4. When submitting work that is not the beginning of a novel (i.e., anything other than Chapter 1), you must also include a short (i.e., 250-500 word) overview of ‘the story so far’ to bring readers ‘up to speed’ on the story to that point. This will NOT count toward your 5,000 word maximum, nor be critiqued. Please be BRIEF.

  5. We will discuss what we read during the last hour of our meeting each month, i.e. critique hour.

  6. Participants are not required to accept the advice and suggestions provided during a critique.

  7. Participant should refrain from "defending" his or her work during critique.  Defending is explaining or clarifying.  Those providing the critique are giving their opinions as they express their reactions to the work.

  8. Arrive with the appropriate mindset: Please arrive with the attitude that we are all here to help others (and ourselves) get to the next level in our writing. If you don’t have that attitude, then this group is not for you.

What to Expect & Critique Guidelines

  1. You'll receive an email from the critique group chair with a link to a folder with submissions for that month and the critique form.

  2. Deadline to read submissions FOR ONCE A MONTH CRITIQUES:

    • 11:59PM Friday before the monthly OKRWG meeting)
  3. Deadline to read submission FOR TWICE A MONTH CRITIQUES:

    • 1st Deadline:  3rd Saturday of the Month

    • 2nd Deadline: Friday before the monthly OKRWG meeting

  4. Fill out the critique form FOR EACH ENTRY via the critique form button on this page or in the email you receive BY THE FRIDAY BEFORE THE NEXT MONTH'S MEETING.

  5. Critiques will be specific, constructive, honest, and objective.  In other words, the person providing the critique will not allow personal bias to interfere with the critique.  Subject matter is not an appropriate issue for critique.  Genre is not an appropriate issue for critique.

  6. Focus on higher order concerns before lower order concerns.  Higher order concerns relate to plot, structure, setting, characterization, point of view, pacing, transitions, dialogue, conflict, and sensory detail.  Lower order concerns relate to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word choice.

  7. Use polite phrasing: If you “found this part boring,” it might be nicer to say “I found this part a bit slow,” or “this part pulled me out of the story…” and then explain why.

  8. Never criticize the writer: Discuss the manuscript, not the writer. If you “found this part boring,” never tell the writer “you write boring manuscripts.”

  9. Acknowledge what you do or don't agree with in relation to other critiques.  Don't repeat another's critique except to "ditto" or expand or disagree.  The writer needs this feedback.

  10. Don’t take ownership: The writer makes the ultimate decision on whether to accept or reject any criticism. Even if you feel certain a change needs to be made, do not push the writer.

  11. Don’t rewrite in your own voice: Suggesting word choices or rephrasing to clarify unclear sections can often be helpful, but do not rewrite paragraphs, entire stanzas, or pages in your own voice.

  12. Be specific: If you “found this part boring,” explain why you found it boring. Don’t just say you found it boring.

  13. Use the sandwich method: start with something you liked, then provide constructive criticism, then end with something you liked.

  14. Be nice & show respect: Even if you hate a piece of writing, the writer has invested time and effort on the manuscript. Phrase your criticism in a way that wouldn’t offend you if it were your writing.

  15. Use “I” statements: It’s better to say “I found this part boring” not “This part was boring.”

  16. Offer suggestions: If you “found this part boring,” offer ways to make it not boring.


Keep in Mind

1. No draft is perfect: While you may feel strongly about a first, second, or tenth draft, it likely needs improvement. While the number of changes you make hopefully shrinks with each revision, don’t stress if the critique returns with lots of red markings.

2. Don’t take it personally: Criticism of your work is not a criticism of you as a person. While you have put a lot of effort into the manuscript, try to maintain a separation between you and your writing.

3. Refrain from getting defensive in the moment. You don’t need to defend your writing. Nobody is attacking it. Let it go if you don’t agree with someone’s critique.

4. Everyone has an opinion: You might think it’s perfect, others think it’s too long, and still others think it’s too short. Learn to classify voices offering criticism so you can decide which trumps which.

5. Don’t abuse your power: While the ultimate decision of what goes into your manuscript is yours, don’t dismiss criticism that is harsh or might be difficult to implement. Sometimes following the hardest advice can be most worth it.

6. Listen: Don’t just hear, listen – especially if it’s something you don’t like. Often the most useful suggestions are the ones you find distasteful at first. Try others’ ideas out. Be open-minded and challenge your assumptions. The more you listen, rewrite, and see improvements in your work, the easier it will become to accept criticism in the future.

7. Wait: After hearing criticism, let it sit for a day or a week before going back and revising or thinking about changes. You should only make changes in your manuscript based on what rings truest to you.

8. Remember that ultimately, ownership is yours: Listen to what people think doesn’t work for your story, and then figure out how you want to fix it.

9. Thank the members for their critiques.  They have spent valuable time helping you improve your work.  

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