Tag Archives: how to

Online Membership

The real, live physical group is actually full at the moment but feel free to subscribe to the website (left). This will put you on the mailing list and you will receive whatever gets posted here.

Your friendly Webmaster will then promote you to a contributor. This means that you will be able to post to the website and we intend these posts to be pieces of writing that you want critiqued. Then visitors will be able to leave their comments on the pieces. The concept here is a sort of second-tier membership of the group while it is full. (Note that you don’t even have to be in Bristol to take advantage of this!)

The Wednesday Group

A reiteration of the About BWG page for the only group at the mo, here are the intention and general rules. Any of this can be changed through discussion in a group meeting, and is given here just for clarification.

  • The main purpose of the group is to critique writing submissions each week.
  • Each meeting critiques two members’ writing, one submission apiece. These are sent by email or through the website by the Sunday before the meeting.
  • Each member is slotted into a rota.
  • One of the members in the slot hosts the group meeting at their own home (and provides some basic refreshments).
  • Group size consists of about 9 regular members. This means that each member can expect to submit a piece of work every 4 or 5 weeks; however, some members will be naturally more active and, where opportunity and agreement arises, they will submit pieces more often.
  • The main focus of the group is towards general fiction, and each submission for critique consists of between 1000 and 2500 words.
  • There are no specific rules regarding the type/style/content of submissions, however it is possible that the skills of group members may not be sufficient to provide appropriate critique on anything that is not ‘general fiction’ (e.g. life writing, travel writing, poetry, erotica, journals, etc.). If you are unsure, please ask the group in advance if anyone is able to provide relevant feedback.
  • When submitting your work, it should be 1.5 or double-spaced to allow comments to be written on them. Submissions should be in Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format and sent as an email attachment.
  • When submitting your work, it is recommended that you specify the type of critique that would be most helpful for you (e.g. grammar, story arc, characterisation, all of the above, etc.)
  • When a member’s rota slot is due, they are asked to submit a piece of their own writing for critique NO LATER than the Sunday prior to their slot.
  • If a member does not have a piece of work to submit when their rota slot arrives, they can: 1) arrange another activity instead, 2) still host the group but with another member’s submission, 3) agree to swap their slot with another member, 4) talk to the group to work out a viable alternative.
  • All communications and submissions of work amongst group members are to be treated as strictly confidential.
  • Individual writers/authors retain full copyright and intellectual property rights for all original work submitted for critique. No parts of these works are to be copied, distributed to third parties, or used by existing or former group members for any reason whatsoever without express written consent from the author.
  • Members of this group, through their participation and submission of work, expressly agree for all other members to print one or more copies of any submitted work for the purpose of allowing that work to be critiqued.

How to Critique

It’s worth highlighting the pages on this site so this series of posts will do just that by echoing their contents. First up: critiquing

Step 1:

Read the entire piece through once. This initial reading is for a general impression of the work. Don’t skim, but avoid laboring over specific elements of the piece. If you see an occasional spelling error or typo, go ahead and mark it. If there are numerous mistakes throughout the piece, just add a general request for a spell check at the top of the story.

Step 2:

After the first reading, write a short paragraph giving your initial impression. Keep your comments constructive. If you found your mind wandering during the story, don’t just remark that you were bored. Find sections that held your attention, and suggest the writer keep that pacing throughout the piece, pinpointing the sections that could use some work. If one character left you cold, credit the characters that you found compelling, and suggest the lacking character be developed more like those. If the humor in the piece fell flat, find the author’s strengths (action, dialogue, description, etc.), and suggest leaving the humor out to let those strong points shine through.

Step 3:

Now do a second, closer, reading. This read is for continuity, character development, dialogue, descriptive passages and plot points. Make notes in the margin (or in a word processor file, if reading online, noting the page and paragraph in question before each comment) as you go. Try to note the writer’s strengths as well as weaknesses. What were your favorite moments? Which descriptions made you feel most present? Which character(s) did you find most compelling? Did any plot shifts pleasantly surprise you? Did you feel lost at any point? Does the plot seem plausible? Is the pacing good, or did you feel rushed, or find yourself getting restless waiting for something to happen? Are there any continuity errors, like sudden name changes or location shifts?

Step 4:

Review the paragraph you wrote after your initial reading, adding any specifics that might clarify your first impression. Maybe your first reading left you wanting more action and less dialogue, but after your second read, you realized it was only one section of dialogue that was a problem for you. Again, keep it constructive. Harsh criticism won’t help the writer develop her strengths to make up for her weaknesses, it will just leave her feeling inadequate. Likewise, don’t give a review of pure praise, unless you truly found the story flawless. Help the writer craft this story into the best work it can be.

Source: eHow.com

New Member & New Look

Welcome back to Suzie, who as a core member of the Group can now edit pages and posts here as per How to Contribute to This Website. Those details have changed a tad since I last posted them if you want to refresh your memory. In particular the Calendar has taken on a life of its own with its own instructions. (Louise will also be able to see all this now that I’ve corrected her email address.)

Some areas still look ugly and I am tinkering with them as I get under the site’s new skin. If you see anything truly foul, tell me and I’ll get on to it as a priority.

OK, I’ve Logged In

Now what do I do?

The answer is “not a lot” if you’re a mere Subscriber. You can change your profile.

The core members of the Group, though, can do much more and are confronted by a humongous WordPress dashboard after logging in.

Don’t panic.

The most important bit is the left-hand side and you can safely ignore the rest. From top to bottom you’ll only need the Posts, Pages, Calendar, Profile and Email sections.

Posts and Pages allow you to add new and edit existing posts and pages. Posts are what appear in the blog; pages appear in the Visit menu. Feel free to post like crazy. You should only need to change your own pages and subpages, and not often.

You can add events to the Calendar and change existing events. It’s really a tool for whoever does the rota but, hey, if you want the group to know about your birthday or dental appointment, knock yourself out. Note that only the core members (and a few select others) will be able to see the events.

The Profile is pretty much self-explanatory.

You can Email any number of users without having to know their addresses. The more useful aspect of this is the ability to email a group, as in Administrators, Editors, Authors, Contributors and Subscribers. These are WordPress categories of user.

The core members are all Administrators and Editors so you could send an upload of your week’s submission as a media file. You may also want to include Authors in this.

Which brings me on to what they can do. They can post but not page. They can add events but can’t see the calendar from the website. They can email one or more users but not as a group.

Contributors can post and an Editor needs to approve the post. Otherwise they are only one step up from Subscribers.

This is a Post. I’ll also create it as a Page when it makes sense to everyone – in fact a subpage of a new How To page. There will be more.

So, go forth and… post, page, email, whatever.