Monday, 29 of May 2017

Our standard meeting format

Once or twice a year, we take a vote to determine our future programme, including workshops and other writing activities according to demand. Following recent votes, many of our forthcoming meetings follow a meeting format which is split into two halves.

First half of the meeting: manuscript readings

During the first hour, writers can bring along their writing on the night to be read out to the group for instant feedback.

  • These works should be no more than two thousand words long (1500 is better!). Please do a word count before the meeting– we need to know how long it’ll take to read!
  • You don’t have to read it out yourself, or even reveal your identity, if you don’t wish to – if you bring along a clearly-printed copy of your work, we can arrange for someone else to read it out on your behalf.
  • You can bring along more than one manuscript to read out if you wish, but we will generally only allow someone to read a second manuscript if everyone else has already had a chance to read.

Second half of the meeting: critique of works submitted in advance

The second hour of the meeting usually features in-depth critique of pieces of writing that members have submitted and read in advance of the meeting. This is done without revealing the identity of the authors: we have found that the convention of anonymity makes for more productive discussions (even though in some cases many people can guess who’s written what!). At the end of each session, the writers will be given the option to identify themselves if they so wish.

First come, first served

  • Writers can submit their works for critique at any time; they will generally be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis (with specific exceptions relating to author absence).
  • Up to four manuscripts will be published in the password-protected members’-only section of our website for the group to read about a week before the meeting, and the group will be emailed links to download them.

Word limits and multiple submission

  • For consideration in this half of the meeting, manuscripts must be more than five hundred words long: anything shorter (poems, flash fiction) should be read in the first half instead (anonymously if preferred).
  • However, to avoid having five monstrously-long manuscripts to read all at once, there’ll be an upper word limit of five thousand words for two of the four slots in any given meeting. Two slots per meeting will be available for longer works up to fifteen thousand words long (although it’s still first-come, first-served if shorter works get there first; we hardly ever have both long slots filled). If you’ve got something more than fifteen thousand words long you want the group to critique, speak to the committee: we’re happy to arrange special review sessions outside the regular programme for novellas and novels.
  • Writers can only have one manuscript queued per meeting (although you can bring along something to read out in the first half even if you’ve submitted something for the second).
  • You can submit a manuscript comprising multiple shorter works (eg a collection of poems) if you wish, but the collection will be reviewed as a whole (ie we won’t allocate time for separate discussions of each specific poem in the collection), so this would generally only be appropriate for closely-related works.

Genre and content

  • You can submit any type of writing you wish. Most submissions tend to be prose fiction or short poems, but we’re open to all kinds of writing.
  • We generally reformat submissions into standard formats for distribution (eg we tend to bundle manuscripts together for people to download as ebooks). If your manuscript features unusual formatting or includes images, please be aware that we may need to adapt it slightly and it might take us longer to prepare – so please submit well in advance of the deadline if you want it reviewed at a specific meeting.
  • If your manuscript contains content that could get people in trouble if they downloaded it at work (‘rude’ words, i guess?), please let me know so that i can include a warning.
  • Please include a title (even if it’s just a working title) in the body of the document itself. It is also helpful to include a line or two of guidance about the kind of feedback you’re looking for, and/or the context of the piece (nothing too detailed, just the sort of information you could infer if you were glancing at the finished article in a bookshop).