Critique Acumen: a Heads-up for Considerate Critics is a presentation for writers. The subject: how to deliver and receive critiques. The following is a presentation handout.
Rules. Most critique groups, small and informal, don’t consider them necessary. But problems do arise. You can’t anticipate every divisive situation, but a set of printed guidelines can offset some of them.
- Set up a group email. Decide on a time for members to notify others before each meeting. To let members know how many manuscript copies they need to print for the meeting, tell if you will attend.
- Some groups have rules pertaining to how many meetings a member can miss before that writer is dropped.
- For invitations to prospective members, consider this: announce by email you would like to invite a certain person to a meeting, and ask if there are objections. If none, ask the prospective member to visit a few times. After a few visits, have an email discussion about whether or not the group wants that person to be a permanent member. If so extend an invitation. If not, tactfully let him or her know.
- Establish guidelines with regard to your meeting routine and how you will handle members who constantly chatter or interrupt. Your group may need a sergeant at arms.
- Adopt a policy for conducting business. Suggestions: schedule a special business meeting every month or so, or allow a specified amount of time for business matters before critique starts, have email discussions so that meeting time is used to merely formalize decisions made through email.
- Disagreements will occur, and they can be divisive. In your printed guidelines, make it clear that courtesy rules, both in face-to-face meetings and in emails. In emails, all caps constitutes shouting—unprofessional, in fact it’s utterly rude.
(c) 2012, Bernice W. Simpson