We like getting new members, but we don’t accept everyone, and sometimes we have a waiting list.
Being published is not a requirement for joining. Many current members, but not all, are traditionally published and a few are also indie published.
Members of this group are productive writers and actively pursuing publication. Sorry, this group probably is not an appropriate fit for someone who wants to be a writer, or wants to get back into writing, but who doesn’t have a substantial, long term habit of writing.
Acceptance is not based on how talented you are, how well you write, or your writing credentials. You don’t submit material to us to be accepted and we don’t pass judgement on it.
We’re looking for writers with the right attitude. We’re looking for people who can benefit from as well as contribute to the group. Current members work really hard at the craft of writing and critiquing and the business of publishing, but they also play extremely well with others and value a good critique group. They want any and all feedback. They’ve come to understand a somewhat tough-skinned attitude is the key to success. This attitude can be acquired if it doesn’t come naturally, and we’re willing to help you change, if you’re prepared for the challenge.
We’d prefer new members to have prior critique experience so they have some idea what to expect.
No teens. Adults only.
Sunday afternoons cannot be a scheduling problem for you. You must be able to attend regularly. We’re not a drop-in occasionally kinda group.
We’re looking for writers who are predominantly focused on genre novels. Genre novels are what you’d find in a library/bookstore in the romance, mystery/thriller, action-adventure, horror, sci-fi/fantasy sections. Genre fiction is also sometimes referred to as popular or commercial fiction. Here’s the thinking–genre writers, no matter what the genre, are on the same page. Genre has accepted conventions making it somewhat easier to critique. Genre writers are goal-oriented and often target their work to specific markets. Genre writers tend to be prolific, even before they’re published. Lots of fairly lucrative markets exist for genre fiction. In addition to novels, many members also write genre short stories. However, this group may not be the right fit for writers who focus exclusively on genre short fiction.
This critique group is advanced. Our critiques are fairly rigorous and detailed because we’ve found that’s how we ourselves continue to learn and improve. Our focus is getting writers to the [traditional] publishable stage which is a pretty high bar, much higher than would be presented in many writing classes, for instance.
Because the group is advanced and very productive, we’re looking for members who are not beginners. (Yes, the term “beginner” is subjective. And in some ways all writers pass through many cycles of newbie to master throughout their career). We’re looking for writers who are not completely new to writing; who’ve been writing fiction more than three years and have written more than 75,000 words. Most members have written at least one novel before they join. Here’s the thinking on beginner writers:
–Joining a critique group should not be your first step to becoming a writer. There are other steps you need to take first; you need to write and you need to learn about writing.
–It’s best if you learn about yourself as a writer on your own first. You do that through writing. A lot. Every day. (In November, try National Novel Writing Month.) We want you to have a habit of writing, and to figure out what you write, gain confidence as a writer, and develop your own style before you start being possibly overwhelmed with suggestions from us.
–You also need to study fiction writing on your own first. This is not the same as voraciously reading fiction which you should also do (especially of the type you hope to publish). A critique group is not a methodical learning experience of the kind you get through study of how to write fiction books or by taking writing courses and workshops. The less you know about fiction writing basics, the less you’ll understand and benefit from our critiques of your work, and the less valuable your critiques of others will be. If you haven’t read any writing how-to books, we will ask you to do so.
Lastly, critique groups aren’t for everyone. For a variety of reasons, some writers don’t flourish in groups or certain kinds of groups. We make no claim whatsoever that this group is right for everyone.
Before you email me about joining, please take a moment to honestly examine your needs and expectations and whether you’re ready to commit the time and energy to a group. Writing is not easy. Even if you don’t expect us to tell you how great your novel is, the first critiques are almost always unsettling in unexpected ways. Our feedback will never be malicious or destructive, I promise, but always expect us to offer substantive suggestions to make even the most polished piece better and, hopefully, publishable.
If you’ve studied our guidelines, and are prepared for the quiz (just kidding, but seriously you need to read all of the pages carefully), and you’re interested in joining, respond to the questions below in an email to the group leader:
- Tell me about your writing. How long have you been writing fiction? What kind(s) of genre fiction do you write? What have you completed? Are you published? How would you describe your skills at this point? What are you hoping to get out of joining a group?
- Have you been in a writing group before?
- Current members continually study writing through how-to write workshops, courses, books, articles, and Web sites. How do you continue to learn about the practical, nuts-and-bolts of writing technique? [How-to books by Stephen King and John Gardner, while interesting, would not be considered nuts-n-bolts.]
- What was your favorite novel in your chosen genre published in the last five years?
- What town/area do you live in? Will you be able to regularly attend Sunday afternoon meetings?
- Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions or voice any concerns you might have.
You can typically expect a response from me within a day or two. Typically the group leader will invite you to a get-acquainted coffee with a couple of group members before you attend your first meeting.
If you’re pretty sure you can’t/don’t want to join, that’s okay too. Whatever your circumstances, I’ll try to help. If you email me, I might be able to suggest other options.
After being accepted:
In the first year of membership, we would like new members to study up on the basics of fiction writing by reading at least five books listed on Resources for New Writers (which can often be borrowed from the Group Library). Choose one book from “Overviews of novel writing,” one from “Genre Overviews,” and the remaining three from “Essentials.”
For a while, potential new members get a limited critique with less feedback and they undergo a try-out period of at least six meetings. (Yeah, I know, enough already! But, sorry, we’ve had some unhappy experiences in the past.) A try-out period gives everyone a chance to see if it’s going to work out. Afterwards, if everyone’s happy, the potential new member officially joins.
Even after the try-out period, if the writer becomes dissatisfied or feels the group is not worthwhile, it’s hoped that the writer will give up their spot, no hard feelings, so that someone else can join. The group leader reserves the right to ask a writer to leave (which she exercises on rare occasions) for not being a good fit, for never writing, never submitting material for critique, not contributing to or benefiting from the group over an extended period of time, for ignoring rules, for never/rarely being able to attend meetings, or for engaging in unacceptable behavior. Please know it’s not at all personal.
If this group doesn’t sound right for you, and it most certainly is not right for everyone, try find a writing group, or start your own
Updated January 5, 2017
Copyright 2000- 2017
Photo: Ithaca, NY courtesy of the talented Paul Joran