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Published by Chrissy Olinger
Membership Guide and Critique Cheat Sheet for South Shore MA Writers
Membership Guide and Critique Cheat Sheet for South Shore MA Writers

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Published by: Chrissy Olinger on Nov 10, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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South Shore Massachusetts WritersMember Guide and Mission Statement
The South Shore Massachusetts Writers formed in 2004 as a small group of writers seeking tosupport one another. Since then we have grown to more than 35 members. Our mission is tomeet, share, support, and grow as a writing community.The RulesSSMAW meets monthly. Members are expected to attend whenever possible.Every other month we will dedicate the meeting to Critique or Beta Reading. We divide themembership into six groups, each of these providing one member with either a full critique of his or her work, or a beta-reading of his or her work The process should unfold as follows:
One person in the group shares digital copies of a work in progress with theother members. At this time the author requests either a critique or beta-reading.
The author makes clear what he or she hopes to get in terms of feedback.
Members read the work, and participate in a month-long discussion via email with comments, suggestions, and helpful input.
 At the end of the month, the group gathers at the monthly meeting and a deep,in-depth discussion is shared.SSMAW considers the following guidelines in being a helpful beta-read contributor:
Beta-readers should consider themselves “testers” for the work. Readers shouldlook for mistakes, but also PROBLEMS with either characters, logic, or flow.  beta-read is the WRONG time to bring up major issues with the manuscript,since this is the first run-through read.
The exception to the above would be at the request of the author.
Readers should avoid platitudes and evasive language. “I loved it” is nice, butnot helpful. “I hated it” is nasty, and not helpful. Be specific, and take the timeto look for actual errors.
“Snag Detection” is, perhaps, the greatest benefit to beta-reading. Any part of the story that causes a reader to pause and lose the flow should be highlighted.
Beta-reading is more focused on helping the AUTHOR with a FINISHED work.SSMAW considers the following guidelines for critiquing:
Use Amy Sterling Casil as a basic guide:http://www.crayne.com/download/casiltip.txt 
Be brutal but never insulting.
If your comments will not improve the manuscript, don't make them.
Look for common problems such as head-hopping, repeated grammar issues,plot.
Follow the 3M rule: mark it, mention it, MOVE ON. Do not badger the authoror nag.
Respect the right of the author to make note of your opinions and leave it at that.
 Authors must respect the work their group has put in and make an effort not totake things personally. The goal is improving the work.
The goal is making things better. Hostility never does this.
Use the SSMAW CRITIQUE CHEAT SHEET, included at the end of thisdocument. WRITEMembers are expected to write. Publishing is not required, but should be the goal. All SSMAW members will be expected to share their work AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR and to show progressregularly. Anyone who has not shown any new work for beta-reading or critique at least oncein a given calendar year will be asked to take a break until he or she has new material toshare. This is not meant as punishment. It is meant to keep us all working.PARTIPATE IN GROUP ACTIVITIES All members must host a meeting either in their home or at a venue of their choosing onceevery 35 meetings unless he or she can provide a legitimate reason for not doing so. We have a minimum of one fund-raiser a year. We have a minimum of one retreat a year.Neither is mandatory, but both are encouraged. (Both are also fun.) WE ENCOURAGE:Supporting, helping, and celebrating one another Working toward publication. Working toward finishing manuscripts.Sharing skills and resources. WE DO NOT TOLERATE:Discourtesy toward others.Unprofessional behavior.Hobby-writers or those who have no intention of finishing and/or publishing their work.GOSSIP.

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