Sunday, August 26, 2012

Don't Shout at Me

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

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