However, I have been advised that clear rules for the group should be established for the benefit of everyone. With this in mind I have relented and fashioned the following 5 basic rules for Tagum Writer’s Club which are:
Rules for Writer’s Club
1. We must remember this club forum and the writer’s circles must be safe, fun places where we support each other.
2. There are many ways to deliver a truth.. Be aware that your critique needs to be done in a clear manner but must never be an attack either upon the author. In other words critique the piece, not the author. (try to avoid getting too personal)
3. Sarcasm or abuse toward other members, for any reason is unacceptable.
4. When possible posts "to be reviewed" should be posted in pdf or like format. Adult material must be clearly labeled as such.
5. This is not a dating site and comments or innuendo in this context may result in expulsion from the group.
Getting Ready to Share Your Writing
Writing responses for other group members and receiving responses from others is the most important step in revising and refining your own work. Before you share your work, online, in your circle or at your group meeting, consider the following suggestions.
Responding to Other Group Members' Writing
Say something positive about the piece. Even if a piece of writing needs a lot of work, there is usually something good that can be pointed out - the nugget of a great idea, a particularly well-turned phrase, the beginnings of a good organizational structure, or a thorough understanding of the material.
Speak from your own perspective, using phrases like, "My reaction to this was …" or "I found this to be …" rather than "this part of the paper is …" Acknowledge that there may be a variety of opinions about the piece of writing.
Talk about the way you responded as you were reading
Sometimes it's easier and more helpful to say, "When I read this sentence, I wasn't sure if the paragraph was going to be about this or about that," than it is to say, "This sentence was confusing."
Be specific. Instead of just saying, "The characterization needs work," try to figure out where and how the writer can improve on the story’s character.
Whatever you say, imagine yourself on the receiving end of the comment. If this were your work, what would be helpful to you? How would you want people to provide you with criticism?
Reacting to Other Group Members' Responses to Your Work
Remember that your writing group is trying to help you become a better writer. Anything the group members say about your work is designed to help you make it stronger, more readable, and more effective.
Understand also that this process is sometimes hard for both the reader and the writer.
Keep in mind also that every reader is different. What one reader finds confusing another might find crystal clear. It is ultimately your writing and you will have to decide which bits of feedback to act upon and which to ignore.
Try not to be defensive. It's easy to think, "What do they know?" or "They just didn't get it," but keep in mind that while one reader's response may be the result of that reader's own misunderstanding, if several readers agree that a scene or stanza is confusing or implies something you didn't intend, the problem probably lies with the writing and not with the readers.
Remember that a criticism of one piece of writing is not an indictment of you as a writer or scholar more generally, nor is it a critique of your worth as a person. It is simply a response to words that you wrote on one occasion.
Listen to praise with the same intensity that you listen to criticism. Often, writers can obsess over critical comments and fail to hear all of the good things said about their writing. We can be our own worst critics and harshest detractors
Keep track of the kinds of feedback that you receive again and again. Do readers often suggest changes in plot or imagery? Do the endings of your poems or stories usually seem to need work? Do people frequently tell you that they don't understand words that you use? Do readers praise your clarity? Do they regularly tell you that your introductions are interesting? Use these observations to identify patterns of problems and strengths in your writing.
Writing with other serious writers that you respect and trust can yield golden opportunities and the most rewarding of experiences.