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Critique Group

Houston Writers Guild Critique Groups

HWG Believes That Effective Critique Groups Embody:

  • Trust

  • Respect

  • Shared Purpose

  • Established Ground Rules

  • Sharing of Challenges

  • Encouragement

  • Differing Perspectives

  • Caring About Work of Others

  • Commitment

  • Strong Leadership

As Critique Group Members, We Commit To:

  • Giving Fearless Feedback Respectfully

  • Not Forgetting To Include the Positive

  • Being Tough on the Writing But Tender on the Person

  • Listening and Not Speaking When Accepting Feedback

  • Offering Constructive and Specific Feedback

  • Focusing on the Big Issues Verbally

  • Following Our Circle’s Rules/Standards

  • Honesty and Trustworthiness

  • Respecting the Time of Others

  • Critiquing as Requested

  • Consistent and Timely Participation

  • Communicating Respectfully with the Person if Problems Arise

  • Assuming Positive Intentions from All in Our Group

Group Meeting

In Person Groups

Check out our in person group meeting schedules to join an in person HWG group.

Working From Home

Virtual Groups

Check out our in virtual group meeting schedules to join a virtual HWG group.

Houston Writers Guild Critique Groups

Virtual Group Schedules:

  • Tuesday 7:00 pm to 9:45pm via Zoom

  • Group uses Google Drive for page exchange

  • Leader -- Marva Mason

  • Contact -- marvamason@gmail.com

  • No Vacancy

In Person Group Schedules:

  • Thursdays 7:00 pm to 9:45 pm

  • Leader -- Lara Gwinn

  • Location -- her home in Woodlands/Klein area

  • Contact -- laragwinn@hotmail.com

  • Open for Members

  • Starting November 10th, 2022

  • Thursdays 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

  • Leader -- Regina

  • Location -- Spring Cypress area

  • Contact -- reginaolson@yahoo.com

  • Starting November 12th, 2022

  • Saturday 10:00 am to 12:00 pm

  • Leader -- Sam

  • Location -- Houston Height’s area

  • Contact -- sam.a.mcwhorter@gmail.com

  • Starting November 14th, 2022

  • Mondays 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

  • Leader -- John

  • Location -- Kingwood/Humble area

  • Contact -- humblecritiquegroup@gmail.com​​​

     If you are interested in joining a particular group listed above, you may contact the leader directly to enquire about joining.

     Don’t see a group that fits your schedule? Are they all in parts of Houston too far for you? Our Critique Director is happy to help you get a group started. It is not as hard as you might think and your volunteer leadership in this will be greatly appreciated.

 

     If you are interested in organizing a critique group or writing circle in your area, contact our Critique Group Director, Brenda K Preuss via text message at 832.434.4822.

Tier 1 Critique Groups

Tier 2 Critique Groups

     If there is one thing that the editors, authors, and agents at our conferences agree on, it is the importance of critique group membership and manuscript peer reviews.  Spouses, relatives and/or friends do not count. We make it painless to help you get your manuscript publishable.

 

     Houston Writers Guild Critique Groups are free to members. Visitors are welcome on a one-time basis. After that, membership is required.

There are usually 5-8 people at our groups.

     Houston Writers Guild announces a new level of critique groups for authors with novels that are complete but not ready for publication. This second tier is a more intense mutual editing experience than that obtained in most groups.

     The first Tier 2 critique group has been in operation for about two months. The three members selected completed novels ready for extensive editing. Once a week, each writer posts up to 5,000 words on an electronic dropbox, and a few days later, they hold an online critique session. Allowing time to read one another’s work offline encourages thoughtful comments about character development, use of setting, and continuity. The critiques go into great depth.

     If you have a novel that is complete and you’re ready to take it up the next steep learning curve while editing it for publication, you may want to join a Tier 2 group. Be prepared for a major time commitment, though, because HWG requires the Tier 2 members to retain activity in a Tier 1 group.

Tier 2 Critique Groups

     Houston Writers Guild announces a new level of critique groups for authors with novels that are complete but not ready for publication. This second tier is a more intense mutual editing experience than that obtained in most groups.

     The first Tier 2 critique group has been in operation for about two months. The three members selected completed novels ready for extensive editing. Once a week, each writer posts up to 5,000 words on an electronic dropbox, and a few days later, they hold an online critique session. Allowing time to read one another’s work offline encourages thoughtful comments about character development, use of setting, and continuity. The critiques go into great depth.

     If you have a novel that is complete and you’re ready to take it up the next steep learning curve while editing it for publication, you may want to join a Tier 2 group. Be prepared for a major time commitment, though, because HWG requires the Tier 2 members to retain activity in a Tier 1 group.

Setting Up a Tier 2 Critique Group with HWG

     The second level of critique groups within Houston Writers Guild helps authors who have completed a novel move more quickly through a critique process and thereby increase the quality of the work before publication. The maximum amount critiqued each week is about double what is allowed in most groups. Group members receive the pages several days before the meeting so they have time to review the pages in depth. The meetings could be face-to-face, but online sessions remove the problem of commuting and of finding a mutually convenient location.

 

     The HWG board has set several criteria for membership in a Tier 2 critique group.

  • The work that is subject of the critiques must be a completed novel. This means the story must be finished.

  • The work must not be published or in the process of publication through a traditional publisher.

  • The author must be committed to editing the work.

  • Each member must commit to diligently critique the other members’ work.

  • To become a member of an HWG Tier 2 group, the author must be a member of a Tier 1 HWG group and is expected to maintain participation in that Tier 1 group.

  • Each group should comprise three members.

Tier 2 Group Process

 

     The first Tier 2 group established a weekly process. Other groups can adapt it to their needs.

  • Name one person coordinator of the group.

  • Hold meetings once a week (e.g. Monday morning at 9 am).

  • Limit submissions to 5000 words (3,000 to 4,000 is most common).

  • Post submissions to a drop box or cloud storage three days in advance (e.g. by Thursday night).

  • Review colleagues’ submissions and mark up electronically. Post the critique file at latest the night before the meeting (e.g. Sunday night).

    1. Members should agree on a format for the comments. Making comments in the text with track changes on is recommended, but so long as everyone agrees, other methods are possible.

  • Provide critique in on-line meeting.

    1. For each stage, there is the one critiquing (A), the one being critiqued (B), and a timer (T).

    2. T generally mutes the microphone (but can add short comments) and announces when fifteen minutes has passed.

    3. At this point, A should wrap up. The objective is to spend no more than 20 minutes per stage.

    4. T and A swap roles to complete the critique of B’s work.

    5. Rotate roles until all three have been critiqued.

  • Clean up the electronic files. Only the author should keep her or his work long term.

    1. After each meeting, the group coordinator should delete any files from the drop box or cloud storage that are two weeks old or more. This leaves the most recent files for review the next week.

    2. Similarly, delete the files on home computers with the same frequency.

Online Meetings

Sharing Files

     Webex is free for meetings with no more than three members (ideal for Tier 2). It handles both audio and video, although there can be some setup glitches for the uninitiated.

      Several methods are available for sharing files. The group can email attachments, although that clutters email servers and can lead to forgetting to delete other peoples’ files. Google Drive is free for the small amounts of storage required. Dropbox is not free, but if one of your members has an account, works well. Other cloud storage sites are also available.

FAQ

Why are Tier 2 members required to be members of a Tier 1 group?

HWG does not want to deplete the other critique groups of what is often the more experienced members. HWG is committed to helping writers at all stages.

Why must I have a completed novel to join a Tier 2 group?

The objective of a Tier 2 group is to move rapidly through a completed novel.

Could I form a group with four members? Two?

At this time, HWG recommends groups of three, but would entertain other concepts.

Why the timer?

We are all busy. Enforcing time restrictions keeps everyone focused and encourages spending time on more important areas of critique. The author will see the other corrections in the critique file.

Does everyone use the same software (e.g. Word)?

No. But the group should decide on a file format (e.g. Word) for posting that is compatible with everyone’s software of choice.