Critique Group

Note: Women's Writing Circle offers professional and reasonably-priced editing services in all genres. For more information, check website under editing services.

We distribute work in advance of the session through email but writers should still bring enough copies for the group, unless those critiquing want to print out their own copies. The number in attendance at critique will be announced in advance of the Saturday session.

While the writer reads, members follow along, making notes and suggestions on their copies, which are collected and returned to the writer at the end of their session.

Each writer should come prepared to read 4 pages (double-spaced) or less aloud for no more than 5 minutes. 

When the writer finishes reading, each member in turn offers critique. Some may give line-by-line suggestions, while others are better at offering general impressions.

AUTHORS: Include at the top of each piece a one or two sentence explanation of the piece and the intended audience.  If your piece is part of a longer story, explain what's happened in the plot so far. Also, feel free to include any specific questions you have about the piece you'd like the readers to think about/respond to.

CRITIQUERS: Don't ask the author direct questions. Just state what you didn't understand and move onto your other comments.

AUTHORS: While critiquers are speaking, only ask a question if you need something clarified. Don't try to explain what you wrote. You will have your own five minutes at the end to clarify things and ask your own questions.

Helpful guidelines adapted from PENNWRITERS CRITIQUE RULES:


React as a reader. Was it: logical, unified and clear, slow or rambling, incomplete? Tell how and where if you can. Did it move you? Did it pull you into the story? Were the people realistic? Was tension felt? Was tension sustained? Mention here only the important points.
Don’t argue. State your points clearly, briefly. Don’t try to rewrite the story. Help the writer with technique, even if the subject is not your favorite. Is it suitable for intended audience? If some fact bothers you, ascertain with simple questions whether it was researched. 

Don't monopolize conversation. Add only additional points, and agreement or disagreement on specific points already made. If you have nothing additional, simply pass. This often can save time for helpful criticism from others.

Commend the writer on good points. We all need this. Encouragement is vital to every writer.


1. Don’t argue. If the point is not clear to someone, it doesn’t matter what you intended to convey. To this person, it didn’t come across. Wait and see what others think. Duplicated reactions reinforce the value of criticism.

2. Question the critic only if you need clarification, but don’t waste your time trying to convince the critic she was wrong.

3. Write down criticism under critic's name. Depending on material, some comments will be more valuable than others. Weigh carefully the comments and the person making them. Here you will be able to count up a "score" on some controversial points. It is a mistake to discard any criticism without consideration.

4. When it's your five minutes, you're in the driver's seat. Ask if a person has any more comments if you wish. Try to wring all of the helpful comments you can from each critic.

5. Have an Open Mind. Think from the listener's point of view. You are very close to your material. Listen, observe, record.

6. Keep discussion on target. Off-track talk costs you valuable critical comments. Keep discussion on your story.

7. Develop a Thick Skin. Taking criticism is hard. Learn how. This group can be a big help to you and your writing and help you sell your work.

Note: We want this group to be a place where we can share our writing in order to grow as writers. It is a supportive group aimed at instruction.

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