THE GREAT INTENDERS WRITER'S GROUP
in Humboldt County, California
Who We Are and What We Do
We are a writers' critique group with five active members. We are all published authors, working in various genres, and each of us has a major work or long-term project in progress. Our emphasis is on producing our best possible work.
We strive to create a safe, noncompetitive environment where we can all feel comfortable sharing our work. Any ideas a writer brings to the group belong to that writer. Ideas arising out of brainstorming sessions around the writer's work also belong to that writer.
Since the group started, works under review have included fiction, screenplay, biography, memoir, humor, essays, food columns, and travel writing. During our meetings we read each others' work (see Critique section below) and share learning and marketing resources. We do not critique poetry or technical writing.
Current Members and their Works in Progress:
Janine Volkmar -- historical mystery, travel, memoir
John Daniel -- literary fiction, murder mystery, essays
David Fix -- nature writing, fiction
Nancy Wheeler -- short stories, personal vignettes
Sharon Levy -- science, literary fiction
One of us volunteers to facilitate at the beginning of each meeting. Since we may read as many as 50 pages during a single meeting, we have to make the most of the time available. Hence we do our best to honor our agreements about time, place, and agenda. Writers are responsible for letting the Host know if they plan to miss a meeting. The Host is the member at whose house we meet. Given enough notice, the Host will notify the rest of the group so we make only enough copies for those present.
Unless we agree otherwise beforehand, we meet on Wednesdays at 1 PM. Meetings last about four hours and have three segments: Check-in, Centering, and Critique.
CHECK-IN (3-5 minutes per person)
Writers tell the Facilitator how many pages they've brought and if they need to leave early, and can update the group on personal or work news. The Facilitator then determines the order in which the work will be read, giving preference to those who must leave early.
CENTERING (3 minutes)
This brief shared silence helps to clear our minds.
CRITIQUE (30-40 minutes per person)
The group process is to do the critique on the spot, with everyone present. We don't take work home to read later.
We strive to give each other the same kind of thoughtful, thorough critiques that we want to receive ourselves. Our purpose is to give feedback about the work, not to criticize the author, so we aim to be positive, respectful, helpful and honest.
There are three phases:
We don't read our work aloud. When a writer's turn comes, s/he distributes copies of his or her work, explains briefly what it is and specifies what s/he wants us to read for. As we read the material silently, we write our comments and suggestions directly on the author's review pages. We note our names on the top page so the author knows later who wrote the comments.
Speaking one at a time, reviewers offer comments, suggestions, marketing ideas, etc. Throughout this phase, the author remains silent, listening, making notes and resisting the temptation to defend the work. This can be hard to do, so the Facilitator needs to be vigilant here -- that's why the Facilitator has a whip.
After everyone has had a turn with a critique of the work under review, the Facilitator declares Open Discussion. Everyone, including the author, may now ask or answer questions, respond to comments, offer additional insights, debate ideas, etc. The marked-up copies are then returned to the author, and we move on to the next writer.
What to bring
Bring up to 10 pages (approximately 2,500 words) of your work, with enough copies to pass around to the group. It's okay to come empty-handed once in a while: your comments and suggestions alone will be helpful to others.
Black print on white paper, single-sided --
okay to use blank side of previously used paper
Double-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman or Palatino (or equivalent)
Approximately 1" margins
Page numbers on every page
We have an opening for another writer:
To be fair to ourselves and review the maximum amount of work at each meeting, we have agreed to limit our membership to six writers. If a vacancy occurs, we may consider the addition of another writer to the group. The "ideal candidate" is someone who...
is committed to writing (any adult prose genres
except poetry and tech writing)
shares our commitment to the group process:
attendance, punctuality, honoring the needs of others
produces a steady stream of work for weekly critique
is computer-savvy in the ways of word processing and email
has read widely in many fields
and whose past work has been accepted by an editor and
subsequently published (self-publishing doesn't count)
When the occasion comes up to consider new members, we like to follow a step-by-step procedure. Before inviting prospective members to join our group, we ask them to attend two consecutive meetings as guests, bringing their writing and fully participating in our process. After a prospective member has attended two meetings, the group decides by consensus whether to extend an invitation for permanent membership.
Want to follow up?
If you're interested, please
send an email query to
The Great Intenders' Host Writer