Mission Statement – Westside Writers is a non-genre-specific, fiction critique group where members work cooperatively in person and online to improve their writing.
- Help individual members to improve their writing
- Critique writing, not the writer
- Motivate writers to write and provide accountability
- Support other members as peers and equals
- Build writing skill set
- Enjoy working together and have fun
- Westside Writers is a cooperative association of writers. Each member has an equal voice in running the organization and we make decisions using consensus.
- Membership is limited. Participating members will decide when membership is open to new members.
Membership is open during March 2013(see this for more information). We do not maintain a new member waiting list.
- We participate, share, and work together because we enjoy writing. We work hard and share stories that are important to us so it is important that all members of Westside Writers feel it’s a ‘good fit’ – for the group as well as the individual.
- To be considered for membership, please do the following:
- Express interest by submitting an email introduction (see this blog entry) when membership is open and you have work in progress.
- Share an example of your writing (500-1000 words) with current members – pick something recent that showcases your skills – short story, chapter, or excerpt.
- Upon invitation, attend a meeting so we can get to know you and you can get to know us (not all members may be present at every meeting).
- A coordinator will poll current members and notify potential member if it is a good fit.
- Members may appoint coordinators to help the group function.
- Serve as a contact person for the group
- Advertise the group
- Remind members of deadlines and meetings
- Maintain email group, blog, calendar, etc
- Rotate meeting facilitation among all members
- Support meeting facilitator
- Regulate submissions so members aren’t overwhelmed
- Direct social functions (snacks, special activities)
- Remember the coordinator is never the “We” at Westside Writers
- Members will facilitate meetings on a rotating basis.
- Start and end meeting promptly
- Inform members of time limits
- Keep the peace and discussion on track
- Watch time
- Ensure everyone has the chance to contribute and receive feedback
- We meet the second and fourth Thursday of the month from 6:30 – 8:30pm. Since we meet during dinner time, feel free to bring food for yourself or to share with the group.
- Gathering/Visiting from 6:15 – 6:30
- Check-in 6:30 – 6:45
- Critique 6:45 on
- General discussion, tips, activities will be saved for remaining time – please advise facilitator if you have something to share
- In print for next meeting
- Electronically via email group one week prior to next meeting (acceptable formats are RTF or Word DOC [1997-2003 versions])
- Attach Submission Cover Page to assist critique partners
- Each member may submit up to 5,000 words per meeting at coordinator’s discretion
- Presently we are critiquing chapters and short stories (and are experimenting with reviewing larger blocks of work)
- Oral critique should be quick and finessed – limited to key points (two minutes per partner) with the majority of time reserved for group discussion of the piece
- Written, detailed critique may be electronic or printed and should include:
- What you enjoyed about the piece and what held your interest
- What confused you and where you got lost
- Constructive criticism
- Ideas and suggestions for improvement
- Unless specifically requested by author, line editing is not expected
- Members have the right to not critique a specific piece of work or a section thereof
- We respect each other and the writing we do.
- We critique the writing, never the writer.
- We allow others the chance to contribute and avoid interrupting.
- We do not share another’s writing without permission and proper credit.
- We do not share work submitted to the group with non-members.
- We are positive, encouraging, honest, friendly, and helpful.
- We accept both positive and negative feedback with equal grace.
- We ask for clarification and never argue.
- We remember we are always improving our craft as writers.
- We tell our partners what feedback will be most helpful when submitting work.
- We are thankful for feedback.
- We have the right to use what we find helpful and ignore that which we do not.
- We extend these same courtesies to all members of the group.
While striving to be open to all genres of fiction, we do not accept pornography, descriptions of child abuse, drug use, violence, and pieces which are primarily political tracts in nature. This does not mean that we are unable to share work which includes a love scene or a description of a violent attack. However, work seen by members to be primarily focused on the glorification of such topics will be deemed inappropriate for submission to the group. Of special note: At least one member of Westside Writers is a Mandatory Reporter and required by law to report certain crimes – for example child abuse or rape – to the authorities.
Communication between meetings
We may wish to share leads and tips, ask for a bit of quick assistance, and let others know of activities or publications of interest to other writers.
- We use the email list (currently hosted on Google Groups) to communicate privately within the group. Remember hitting reply sends your message to the entire group.
- We use the blog (westside-writers.blogspot.com) and Facebook to communicate publicly – when we think what we are sharing might be of interest to those outside of Westside Writers – and when we want a more permanent record available.