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Newsgroups: misc.writing,rec.arts.sf.written,rec.arts.prose,alt.prose Subject: So, you want your SF/F/H critiqued, eh? From: aburt@... (Andrew Burt) Date: 15 Nov 1995 Hello all! I'm starting an on-line critiquing circle (aka workshop) for serious Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror writers, and am hereby calling for members. (Call! Call! :-) Now, I should mention that word "serious" I put in there. I've been a member of several on-line critique groups so far -- and none of them has worked. :-( People submit stories, hardly anyone else offers any critiques. They suffer from a serious lack of participation by the members. Hence "serious." (Not lack of participation in submitting *stories* -- they get those aplenty -- but in submitting *critiques*. Nobody seems to want to do *that*.) So I thought I'd try my hand at it, that maybe with carefully crafted procedures we can get it to work, and folks will get the critiques they crave. Here's what I'm thinking: 1) Member submits a short story (or chapters+outline) for review to a central email address; manuscript is then emailed to all participants (I can also set up a password protected web page to put it on). (No partial stories, please, and chapters of novels should come with a minimum of a paragraph describing the entire book.) 2) One ms. is sent around per week. [Amended: We now send roughly one ms. per 15 members, which works well.] 3) Other members are expected to email their critiques back within a week (thus the critiques are public and open to further comment). Even if you don't care for the genre (e.g., you like hard SF and the work-of-the-week is fantasy), you are still expected to provide a response. [I think this is the key -- each member is ***expected*** to respond to each submission. "Give to get," that sort of thing.] [Amended: Respond to at least one each week.] Of course members can't be expected to critique *every* work, I realize folks go out of town, etc. But I think some percentage like 75% is fair (if you can't manage to read three out of four, maybe you're better off spending your limited time just writing, instead of trying to get critiques from people without reciprocating; remember that tired old "Golden Rule"). [Amended to 75% of weeks.] 4) Members who fail to submit their quota of reviews are excluded from having their work reviewed until they're back in "good standing" (i.e., wait a few weeks to get back above 75%). (I am open to suggested improvements, of course. Maybe one week is too short, y'all want two weeks. We'll figure it out.) But mutual cooperation is the key. Commitment. I.e., if you're not willing to help others as much as you'd like reviews of your own work, this isn't the place for you. If you're willing to do the critiquing to get yours read, then this group should work out great. I would hope that the members are also "serious" in the sense of getting published, i.e., are actually submitting stories to markets and getting lots and lots of rejection slips. *BUT*, I don't believe that's a crucial element to being a contributing member of the group. All we need are people who are willing to critique. (In fact, since there are usually plenty of manuscripts, anyone who just wants to critique and not send in stories is also welcome! But don't join unless you have the time and commitment to genuinely send in critiques; typically the only carrot/stick in this situation [lacking face-to-face peer pressure] is whether your own story will be sent around, nudging you to review to ensure yours is seen. Thus I anticipate most participants will have submissions too, but it's not a requirement by any means.) I hope we can attract some published writers, though I realize that at least initially we'll all probably be just unpublished hopefuls. But I also hope it's clear to those who *are* published and *might* be considering joining that the other members will share your level of seriousness, if not your list of publications. I realize the net is a difficult place to do a workshop like this, since there's no way to enforce the guilt found in an in-person one. However, I believe if people have the willpower to participate, it can work just as well, possibly better. To those who say "well, go find a real one then" -- there's only one "real" workshop in my geographic area that I've found (with some pretty extensive searching) -- and that has Connie Willis, Ed Bryant, and a bunch of other well-published people in it, with a multi-year-long waiting list to get in. I'm trying to start another one, but am, again, finding commitment to be a major problem. People don't even return phone calls who've said they're very interested, or don't show up to meetings they say they'll definitely be at (or ever finish stories they say they want reviewed)... So, I thought I'd cast the net out onto the net, and see if there are other like-minded writers out there. I suppose it's fair to wonder what my credentials are, so here's a brief bio. I'm a math/comp.sci. professor at the University of Denver, where I do operating systems theory, networking, computer security, and an unusual branch of AI, and my wife and I run a software consulting business (e.g., writing custom software for clients, mostly Unix/C/C++ related). I created and run a free, public access internet site [telnet nyx.net, or http://www.nyx.net if you're interested] -- I should add that this is evidence of my commitment: I've run this as a hobby for over six years now. As for SF writing, I am, alas, mostly unpublished. (Ok, I have one copies-only publication, but we won't count that :-) [Amended: I have since made actual sales.] I did some SF writing many years ago (try fifteen), but stopped until this July to get the ol' career going, etc. Now that I have time for the the proverbial thousand words a day, I've written over a dozen short stories, which are starting to bring in personal rejections from Analog, SF Age, etc. (And seem to be getting lost at Asimov's; I've a bunch there and... silence. Hmm.) I write mostly SF (some hard, some not) with an occasional dabble elsewhere. Anyway, I have good organizational skills, can whip up a mean critique if that's what you want, have thick skin to take the worst you can throw at my own efforts, and enjoy both writing and critiquing. I'll just add that if I start something, I don't give it up, so if this fails, you have my word that it's not because I suddenly found I didn't have time, etc. (which is what happened with one of the on-liners I tried; the "admin" bailed). I'm rabidly persistent. :-) So -- if you take your SF/F/H writing seriously and have the time and willpower to put into reading and reviewing, drop me a line! error_reporting (E_ALL ^ E_NOTICE); ?>