Critique Rules

From time to time, FWCA opens up the whipping post and allows members to have portions of their work critiqued.  Visitors are welcome and encouraged to attend the critique sessions but are not allowed to critique. 

There are differing views on the subject of critiquing another writer's works.  Some writer's state that critique groups handicap or hinder a writer's progress, in some cases, even demoralizing.  Other writers say that they wouldn't be the writers they are today if it wasn't for the critical eyes of a fellow penman.  I, personally, can see the pros and cons of both arguments, but I do know one thing, writers will never come to a true conclusion until they have experienced it for themselves.  

If you are one of the brave, with his chest pressed to the whipping post, or are the one holding the critiquer's whip, here are some helpful hints, rules and guidelines to follow.

Critique Announcement:

  •      The website calendar is an excellent source for finding out when we will hold open critiques.  Click on the announced "FWCA Meeting" and it will give the agenda of that month's meeting.  Prior to the open critique meeting, the president will send out an email request for victims. I mean, volunteers.  Unless otherwise noted, there will be three readers accepted on a first come, first served basis.  The president will send out an email stating who the readers will be, as they are received.

  •   The number of critique sessions performed during the year are limited, but they are quite popular.  New readers will be preferred over someone that has read previously. 

  • After a reader is notified of acceptance, the reader can send their manuscript to the FWCA President, who will in turn, email the manuscript to the FWCA organization.

  •  FWCA members may do some pre-critique work before the meeting, making notes that they wish to express after the reader has read their selection at the meeting.

  •  If a reader does not want to distribute a manuscript, it is not necessary but it does somewhat limit the quality of a critique.

  • It is not necessary for critiquers to print off distributed submissions and bring them to the critique session, but it may be helpful if they have made notes.

  • It is not necessary for a reader to bring extra printed manuscripts of their work for critique, but keep in mind, not everyone will print off or remember to bring their copies from the email sent by the president. 

Reader's and Critiquer's Rules:

  •    Readers will have a maximum time of 15 minutes to read, followed by a maximum time of 15 minutes for critique.  Readers, speak loud and clear.

  •    If the reader is reading a piece of work that is part of a novel, give a very brief synopsis of the back story relating to the selection being read.  Critiquers need to keep this in mind, as they are entering a story midstream and need to tailor critiques as such. 

  • Readers will remain silent while being critiqued.  There is no conversation between readers and critiquers, except for a polite "Thank you".  If a reader wants to converse about a critique, this can be done at break time. 

  • Be truthful, but kind.  We are here to improve and support.

Critique Tips:


  •    Keep critiques objective:
           Saying “You suck,” is not being objective.  Remember, it is the manuscript being critiqued, not the writer.   

            Objective Critiques: (Fiction) A few examples

a.       Do you empathize with the characters? Why or why not?

b.      Is the story “telling and not showing” what happens?

c.       Does the story engage the senses?  Environment: Sight, sound, smell…etc.

d.      Does the story jar the reader in shifts from point of view?

e.       Does the dialogue fit the characters and unique to each character?

                         Objective Critiques (Non-Fiction) A few examples

a.       Is the content written in a stimulating manner?

b.      Does the piece flow in a logical manner?

c.       Are there any questions left unanswered that the piece itself presented?

d.      What else would you like to know about?

  •         Try to begin and end the critique on positive notes, some things you liked about the piece.
  •          If critiquers have written down their critiques, the reader can ask for them after the reading.


              Remember, we are here to encourage and aid writers in their journey.