This is how we run the group: the rules and guidelines that we follow to keep the group functioning smoothly.
- We can only allow adults (i.e. eighteen years or older) to attend meetings. There are no other membership criteria—the group welcomes anybody who writes speculative fiction.
- Membership is free. There are no fees, recurring or otherwise.
- Don’t just turn up! Get in touch first. You’ll need copies of everyone’s work or you won’t have a clue what we’re talking about.
- We ask that you come to one meeting before you submit any work to be critiqued, so you can get a feel for whether the group is for you.
- As a first time attendee, you don’t have to critique work if you don’t want to, but if you do, we’re happy to listen.
What We Critique
- We critique novel or novella chapters, short stories, flash fiction, and screenplays.
- We only critique speculative fiction. That means work in these genres:
- Alternative history
- Weird fiction
- Literary fiction with speculative elements
- We don’t critique work that has already gained publication.
- We’re adults and open-minded about blood and gore, sexual content, profanity and political views. We will not allow work that sets out to offend other people.
- We don’t critique erotica, but an erotic scene in a speculative fiction piece is acceptable if it’s essential for the story.
- We don’t allow plagiarism. Fan-fiction is fine, but you should make sure everyone realises you’re writing fan fiction.
- There’s a 4,000-word limit for each submitted piece.
- Split any longer stories into smaller sections and submit them over several meetings.
- If you have several short pieces of work that total less than 4,000 words (flash fiction, for example) you can submit them together in a single Word document.
- There’s an overall limit of four submissions per meeting.
- Each attendee can only submit one piece at a time.
- We use Dropbox to distribute submissions prior to each meeting.
- Submit your work to the Dropbox a week before the meeting.
- We will accept late submissions, up to the Friday before the meeting, but can’t guarantee to critique them.
- Don’t remove work from Dropbox after you’ve submitted. If you think you might miss a meeting after you’ve submitted, leave your work in Dropbox and let us know—we will critique it at the next meeting.
- Don’t re-submit work that the group has critiqued. That includes work that you’ve edited or rewritten.
See Manuscript Formatting for the rules we expect submissions to follow.
- The Group uses the Milford System for critiques.
- We don’t read pieces aloud on the night.
- We don’t apply the rule that ‘No one can attend or comment who doesn’t bring a story.’
- We also have a slightly complicated system for deciding whose work gets critiqued first (see #8 below).
- Everyone reads all the work in advance and then presents their critiques at the meeting. We don’t critique via email or social media.
- Everyone gets their turn to speak and respects the other attendees’ turns. There is no discussion or debate during critiques. Everyone’s opinion is valid and we respect it.
- We insist critiques are constructive and focussed on helping the author of the piece improve it – we support people. They need to know what works as well as what doesn’t. See this article for tips on critiquing other people’s writing.
- After everyone has delivered their critique, the author responds, explains, and answers questions raised. Again, this is not an opportunity for a debate. See this article for tips on having your writing critiqued.
- We’re non-political and discourage critiques based on anything other than literary merit.
- We encourage attendees to hand over an annotated copy of each author’s submission.
- Typos and nitpicks are best left to this line-edited copy rather than gone through during the meeting.
- We critique as many pieces as time allows. To decide the order, we critique:
- Submissions carried over from the previous meeting.
- New submissions from writers who had nothing critiqued at the previous meeting.
- All remaining submissions.
If you break the rules, we will remove your submission from Dropbox and send you an email explaining why. If you continue to break the rules, we will ask you to find a more suitable writers’ group.