Guidelines of a Critique Group

Are you wanting to join a critique group or start one of your own? Here are some guidelines established by the PNWA. The goal of the author is to improve your story. The author must be open to change their characters, story, changing the direction of their plot, and even the emotional arc. A critique group is not a means to hear praise. Although every writer longs to be loved and appreciated for their writing, we must be open to hear how to improve and make our stories better.

Before you begin, establish the size of your critique group. Three to six is an ideal amount. It gives everyone a chance to read their piece and time for the others to critique.

Establish a time to meet. Once a week is best, but at least once a month. Also determine which day of the week and the time.

An ideal critique group is a mixture of gender and a variety of genres. Diversity is the key. You want many view points.

Bring only one copy of the scene or chapter you want to share. The author reads it out loud to the others. This stops the others from reading ahead and correcting grammar issues. You want them to pay attention to your story and give genuine criticism. Don’t defend yourself or characters. Listen to what the group has to say about improvement. You don’t have to agree, but write down their suggestions.

As the listener, you should take notes. Always start with something positive to say about the reader’s work. Otherwise, all the author will remember is negativity.

Good luck.

writing notes idea class

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The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

The moon shone down upon the campsite like a giant eye. A gust of wind rustled the dry, summer leaves of the maples. The fire crackled and popped. The counselor gazed at each boy’s face. His eyes gleamed in the fire light.

“Some of you heard these tales before. Please don’t spoil it for the new recruits. Tonight’s story is about the green man of the woods. It’s said that he snatched young boys that wandered off and lost their way. I was skeptical once, same as you, but as I live and breathe, this story is true.” He looked at the younger boys and rubbed his hands together.

Now Bobby looked up to his best bud.  Eddie was older by a couple of years. He had long legs and fast on his feet.  He climbed a rope with ease, excelled in sports, and beat most of the others in a race. Bobby was short for his age, chubby, and picked on at school. He didn’t have any brothers and was left alone more times than any ten year old. His mother worked long hours as a nurse. She felt guilty and decided Bobby needed companionship. She sent him off to Camp Crockett. At first, Bobby felt all alone, until Eddie stepped in to show him around. With Eddie as his friend and on the same team, Bobby felt proud and knew they’d win most of the games.

Some of the older boys told of a camp across the lake that had a swimming pool and a bowling alley. Eddie talked Bobby into stealing one of the rowboats. Bobby had never stolen anything and was nervous, but he’d do anything for Eddie. He scanned the area, before he shoved the boat out. Bobby ran and jumped in. Eddie waded out and climbed inside. They paddled, with all their might, to the other side of the lake. Their arms ached, by the time they reached Camp Boone. It had been further away than they had anticipated. They set the oars inside and hauled the boat to shore.

A thin girl, around twelve, with white-blond hair and dressed in a white tennis dress, emerged from the bushes. “What are you doing here?”

Eddie licked his fingers and smoothed his cowlick down. “Hi, we’re curious. Is it true your camp has a swimming pool and a bowling alley?”

“Yes, and other things. My name is Diana and you are?”

“I’m Eddie and this is Bobby.” Eddie pulled Bobby over.

“Do you want to peek inside?” she asked.

“Yes!” the boys chorused.

Diana unlocked the padlock on the gate. She pushed it open and the hinges squealed. The boys entered the campsite. As they wandered the grounds, they noticed garbage littered the area. Cabin porches looked damaged and the windows broken. The swimming pool smelled foul and green slime floated on top of the water. The boys gazed at each other. Eddie  walked over to a cabin. He waved Bobby over. He lifted Bobby up to look inside. Bobby paled.

“What do you see?” Eddie asked.

“Put me down!” Bobby cried. He raced to the gate with Eddie behind him.

The gate slammed shut before them. They looked behind them and couldn’t believe it.  Diana’s arms and legs changed into vines that rolled and entwined over each other in their effort to claim the boys. They scaled the gate, but Diana caught Bobby by his leg and dragged him back.

“Don’t leave me, Eddie!” Bobby yelled.

Eddie’s eyes widened as the vines slithered up the fence. His jacket sleeve snagged on a wire and he couldn’t budge. He yanked his arm free and jumped over the fence. The ground rumbled under his feet. He leapt for the boat. The vines tunneled under the rowboat and lifted Eddie and the boat as one. Eddie grabbed an oar and smacked it across the vines. A shrill rent the air. Eddie covered his ears. The vine shrunk back. Eddie took the opportunity rowed to the middle of the lake.

Eddie drifted on the water for hours. He started to row back to their camp when Bobby called his name. Eddie rowed back to Camp Boone and saw Bobby standing by the gate.

“Diana’s sleeping. Please take me back with you,” Bobby said. “Can you carry me? My legs hurt.”

Eddie climbed out of the boat and strode over to Bobby. He carried his friend to the rowboat and sat him down on the seat. Eddie pushed the boat out and jumped inside. “You look a little green.  Did Diana poison you?”

Bobby’s arms and legs turned into vines. Eddie screamed and the vines entered his mouth. Only hollows were left of Eddie’s eyes and slime covered his skin. The camp leaders found the rowboat circling the lake. Bobby wasn’t anywhere in sight. And so the tale of the watcher in the woods continues to this day.

“What a bunch of hogwash!” one of the new boys exclaimed.

“My name is Bobby. Now do you believe?” The counselor changed into an alien of mossy vines and snatched the boy’s tongue.

environment forest grass leaves

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The End

 

RUE the DAY

Here is a poem for when you’re feeling angry.

 

Hope ground into garnet glass, washing love’s hair gray,

As heartbreak flooded the blood-stained street.

Her nostrils flared, her palate full of lust,

Desire not quenched or rinsed,

Rage hurtled from the cracks.

Anger her shield and revenge her sword,

She charged toward her enemy.

 

Revenge raked her sword across the demon’s face,

Ripping away his cloak of deceit,

His wounds raw and peeled open to truth,

he begged for mercy,

But the lioness licked the crimson from her blade,

And watched with unforgiving eyes.

nature summer yellow animal

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Determine Your Dramatic Elements

Ask yourself, why do you want to write this story? What is your passion? What theme do you want your readers to take away from your story? What is the premise of your story? Describe it on one sentence using the what-if formula. What if a flawed protagonist encountered a problem and had to overcome the flaw to solve the problem?  Whatwoman-hand-desk-office.jpgis one flaw that prevents your protagonist from solving his or her problem? Later, you can give other flaws to your character, but the main flaw is what you will structure your story on.