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Writer's Critique Group

Pipe & Thimble Bookstore
Event organized by Pipe & Thimble Bookstore

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Every group member wanting to submit material for critique this month must email their work to our group facilitator Tina Page at patwclomita@gmail.com no later than the Wednesday before the meeting, so that’s a full week before our meeting.

Disclaimer: Pipe & Thimble Bookstore is the venue for this event, not the host. Any opinions, discussion topics, rules outside of the general bookstore rules, facts provided are not necessarily those of the store or it's owners.

10 seats available. Pre-registration is reqired!

Labor omnia vincit – Work conquers all

The mission of the Pipe and Thimble Writers’ Critique Club is to create a venue for a diverse group of writers sharing the goal of improving their writing through honest and constructive criticism from fellow members. As partners on this journey to each of our own definitions of success, we hope to bring together a group who truly celebrates the accomplishments of each member and strives for excellence in every critique. We hope to also leave some time at each meeting to discuss the publishing industry, successful routines and any other aspect of writing.

The group will meet the first Wednesday of every month from 7-9 pm at Pipe and Thimble Bookstore in Lomita. Every group member wanting to submit material for critique that month must email their work to our group facilitator Tina Page at patwclomita@gmail.com no later than the Wednesday before the meeting, so that’s a full week before our meeting.

One submission should be no longer than 3,000 words. Keep in mind that each author will have 10 minutes to read their writing to the group before we start the critiques. Ten minutes generally allows for about 1,500 words to be read. So if you are ok with only reading a partial piece of your work at the meeting, then send the full 3,000. You can also just limit your word count to 1,500 to ensure you can read aloud all you’ve submitted.

After I receive the submissions, I will email each member with all submissions. Your responsibility is to print out each submission and write your notes in the margins on in the story. Bring all of your print outs to our meeting to use when you orally summarize your critique. After we are done with one writer, we will hand all of our written critiques for that writer to take home.

Meetings will consist of each writer taking about 10 minutes to read their writing, followed by about three to four minutes for critiques.

If there is any reason you would prefer not to critique a particular story, you are welcome to opt out. Just make sure to let Tina know.

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” Marcus Aurelius

We are coming together to give one another feedback with the motive of strengthening our writing. The Golden Rule should be in full effect when assessing any member’s work, as well as when receiving input from others.

It’s a good idea to begin with the positives, then go into where and why an aspect of the writing didn’t work for you, and end on another positive.

See below for specific tips on giving a critique:

Be constructive – Don’t just say, “I didn’t like the story,” or “the story was boring.” Point out specific areas and try to explain what didn’t fit for you.
Offer suggestions – Tell the author what could help to make a certain part more understandable, or believable.
Don’t rewrite – Offer suggestions, but don’t rewrite the story in your own words.
Be polite – Always use phrasing that reflects your own specific opinion, not broad generalizations. Say “I had some trouble understanding the motivation of the character at this point,” rather than “This character is horrible.”
Stay objective – Be open to stories that will challenge or completely go against your religious, cultural, personal and political world views. Critique the work for what it’s meant to be, rather than what you want it to be.
See each story as an opportunity – No matter what a story we critique is about, or whether we like it, agree with it, or it personally offends us, each time we read and devote our energy to helping the author make it the best it can be, we are learning and improving as writers and as individuals.
No depictions of extreme violence toward animals or children – Steer clear of detailed descriptions of extreme violence toward animals or children. This is not the group for indulging in violence for its own sake. This is not to say it can’t be dealt with, but it should be done to highlight a point, not just to disgust.

When on the receiving end of the critique (that’s why we’re all here!):

Don’t take anything personally – This is solid advice for any endeavor in life! But as it pertains to our group, remember that having your work judged and critiqued is why you are here. Some will like it, some not so much. This is good practice for being exposed to an even wider circle of readers.
Critiques are just suggestions – You don’t have to make any of the changes readers suggest. The best approach is to listen, make notes if you want, take what you can use to improve your story, and forget about the rest.
Don’t argue – Unless you are trying to elicit more detail or get a better understanding of what a reader is explaining didn’t work for them, refrain from defending your work or arguing with the critique. Best to just stay quiet, really listen to try to understand and respond with a “Thank you,” or “Got it.”
Keep the end goal in mind – It’s not easy to put yourself out there and read your work in front of nine people.It’s even harder to have these people tell you what’s wrong with what you wrote. Try to keep the goal in perspective. Uncomfortable and difficult situations are usually the greatest opportunities for growth and improvement. That applies to writing just like anything else.
Have a good time – Don’t forget that we are all here because we love everything about words, and we get to hang out with other people who love words, and read things that mean so much to those who wrote them. And these people trust us enough to handle their work with respect and consideration. Being part of this group is something to be grateful for!

“He who loves fame considers another man’s activity to be his own good; and he who loves pleasure, his own sensations; but he who has understanding considers his own acts to be his own good.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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