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Writers Group guidelines & etiquette.

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The Sheffield Forum Writers Group is a small, friendly and free critique group devoted to the purpose of helping writers to refine and polish their writing skills through group interaction and critiquing.

 

Our membership includes published authors as well as unpublished writers. Some members write for profit and others for enjoyment.

 

The Writers Group is also a meeting place for writers to exchange ideas or find help and inspiration. Through the sharing and analyzing of each others' work within a friendly atmosphere, many who have joined this group find their writing skills improving.

 

The only requirements for joining the Writers Group is that you are actively writing, are willing to submit your own original stories or poems, participate in critiquing others' work, and have the determination to improve your writing skills.

 

BEING A GOOD WRITING GROUP PARTNER

 

Here are some guidelines to being a good writing group partner. You will get out of this experience what you put in, so do your best to follow the guidelines below.

 

1. BE HONEST

Now is not the time to lie. Be gentle, but tell the truth. If the submitter's story doesn't have enough plot, or the characterization needs work, tell them! Editors don't have time to tell you what they think - critique partners do.

 

2. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

Often the first thing you'll be tempted to do as a WG partner (especially if you have strong grammar skills) is to start nit-picking commas, etc. While this is helpful on a FINAL DRAFT, what you should be looking for in the early stages is the overall picture. Is the plot sound? Do the characters do and say things that are out of character for them? Do they depend too much on adverbs, rather than choosing strong verbs?

 

On the final draft, of course, you'll want to make sure what they are sending to the publishers is picture perfect. Now you get to edit out all those commas.

 

3. CONSIDER COMMENTS CAREFULLY

Not every comment a critique partner makes will apply to your story. It could be just a personal preference. You are the final judge of what to change and what to keep. However, don't shoot down a comment because it hurts your feelings. If possible, leave it for a while, and look at it again later. Often you'll find at least a shred of wisdom in the critique.

 

4. BE THICK-SKINNED

The first time you have a story critiqued by a group of writers might be difficult for you. If some critiques are somewhat negative to your material, it doesn't mean you're a bad writer. It's sometimes hard to separate our writing from ourselves, but it is absolutely necessary that you learn to do so. Nothing is personal in a writing group such as ours, comments are made on the words that are submitted only. Even after you're published, editors will want to change things. And you may well gather a heap of rejections before that time. Get used to it, you’re a writer.

 

5. BE KIND

This is important, treat others as you would have them treat you. Honesty doesn't mean brutality. A writer's story is his/her baby - and you don't want to tell someone their baby is ugly! Word your critiques carefully, as you would have others critique your work.

 

6. BE ENCOURAGING

One of the biggest benefits to having critique partners is having others who understand what you are going through as you sweat blood trying to get work published. Encourage one another to your best writing, and help one another when you face a nasty case of writer's block or rejection.

 

7. BE FRIENDLY

Get to know each other. Become friends. Share the experience of writing. The more you know about each other, the more you'll be able to help.

 

8. BE PROMPT

When you send something out to be critiqued, you are probably anxious to know what the other writing group members think. Remember, your partners feel the same way about their writing. Do your best to get back to them within a reasonable amount of time.

 

9. ENJOY YOURSELF

The group's friendly and relaxed artmostphere is there to encourage writers of all abilities to enjoy practicing their writing skills. Have fun, it's what we're here for.

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