Critique Participant Guidelines
ACFW-SC Chapter January, 2014
Material Guidelines for Submissions to be Critiqued
(Any Type of Fiction, Articles, Devotions, Blogs):
NOTE: If you plan to bring something to critique, come 15 minutes early to the meeting to sign up.
▪ Writings can be up to 1500 words written in basic mss (manuscript) format: Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced, first sentence in paragraph indented half
inch,one-inch margins all around, header and page numbers, black ink)
▪ All lines should be numbered (Click on Page Layout in msword, then Line Numbers, and Continuous)
▪ Bring 5-6 copies of your piece so each person can have a copy on which to write notes and return to you. Put YOUR name at the top of your first page (if no header), number pages, and staple or clip together to hand out.
▪ Optional: you can add 2-3 bullet points at the top of your mss to let readers know where you are seeking most feedback (content, grammar, plotting, beginning, and ending)
▪ After our brief meeting and guest speaker finishes everyone will be assigned to a small critique group of about 3-6 people. (Whether you brought a mss or not, you are welcome to participate in group. See note below.)
▪ The first writer to share his work will pass out his material. The writer then has 30 seconds to give the group any pertinent background on the piece. (Tell fiction genre, article, or devotion, and maybe where you want to send it)
▪ Person to the right, not the author, will then read aloud the piece as others notate their feedback.
▪ Person to the left of person being critiqued starts the critique process below.
▪ All critiquers put their name and email at top of each piece in case the writer wants more information.
Note: Only ACFW-SC members can bring material to critique. However, non-members are welcome to participate by listening and providing feedback.
(Go around circle, each critiquer taking about 2-3 minutes)
The Oreo Cookie method:
2)The meat of your critique/suggestions
3)Something positive again
▪ Others note on their copy whether they agree or disagree and comments
▪ Try not to repeat what has already been said when your turn comes, be as kind and encouraging as you can be but also offer constructive feedback
▪ Person being critiqued cannot respond during critiques—unless asked a question
▪ Critique leader is responsible for moving the critique along (reminding about the process at the beginning of the session, keeping comments on track with feedback instead of discussions, and making sure all pieces are given appropriate time)
General things to look for:
1) Simple industry requirements met: Times New Roman 12 point font, double spaced, one-inch margins, header with numbered pages, only black ink used. (see back for page 2)
2) Fiction: Catchy title, opening hooks you and keeps you, good characterization and setting, good plotting, good conflict, realistic dialog, strong sensory details (use of 5 senses), action beats vs. speaker attributions, active voice and deep POV (point of view) prevails.
3) Articles or Devotions: Catchy title, opening hooks you, good organization, clear theme, and progression, heart of message clear, use of illustrations, interesting, some humor is good.
4) Writing Mechanics: good punctuation, spelling, grammar, parallel sentences, varied sentence structure, correct verb tenses.
5) Spiritual Content: Spectrum can vary, especially in fiction.
Here is how Ron Benrey describes this in his Writing Christian Fiction manual:
At the High End: The Conversion Scene –you tell a story that shows conversion
The Middle Ground: Show Jesus at Work –in the lives of your characters or theme
At the Very Least: You show progress in a lead character’s Christian walk
Note: These guidelines have been compiled from the WordWeavers model and the Cross N Pens model with a few additions. These two models have proven to work well. However, we can always further tweak them as we see the necessity.
To start with, our new ACFW-SC Chapter will have to become familiar and proficient with these guidelines which will take a little time. But the hopeful end result, good critiques and sales, should be worth the effort! Sorry, but we will not attempt to critique poetry at this time. Fiction includes short stories of any kind. Articles includes for print publications or for online markets.
Elva Cobb Martin
President, ACFW-SC (Jan. 2014)