This is intended as a primer for new members of the STL Scribblers group at Central Library. Here are the basic guidelines for our group, which will be reviewed periodically and will change over time. If you have a suggested amendment to these rules, please e-mail group coordinator Eric Lundgren at firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be brought before the group.
1. STL Scribblers meets the first Monday of the month at 7 pm at Central Library. Members are encouraged to form their own sub-groups to extend the conversation at other locations or through online discussion.
2. Usually, at least part of each meeting will be devoted to a workshop discussion of a story or novel excerpt from one of our group members. The goal of this workshop is to offer honest and supportive feedback and to help the author prepare the story for publication.
3. In addition to workshops, STL Scribblers will also discuss literary events in the St. Louis area; engage in creative exercises; discuss the business/practical side of the writing life; and share news, accomplishments, and resources with each other.
4. All submissions for workshop will be submitted and shared by e-mail. The group is willing to consider revisions of the same story, time permitting, if the revision is a substantial one, but priority will be given to new work.
5. Writers are generally expected to be silent during the first part of their workshop, although exceptions can be made to this rule.
Guidelines: Responding to Other Group Members’ Writing
1. Tailor your comments to the writer; judge each piece in terms of its intentions, not your personal likes/dislikes as a reader.
2. Critique the writing, not the writer. Make sure to word all criticism in a way that is polite and civil.
3. Speak from your own perspective, and discuss your own reading experience (i.e. “I found this passage confusing” and not “This passage is confusing.”)
4. Remember that you are in a writing group to help each other improve. All criticism should aim to be constructive and helpful.
5. Whatever you say, imagine yourself on the receiving end of the comment.
Guidelines: Reacting to Other Group Members’ Responses
1. Remember that the writing group is trying to help you become a better writer. Try to be open to the process.
2. Put yourself in the critic’s shoes: it is difficult to articulate criticism in a way that is both polite and helpful.
3. Remember that all readers are different. Filter out what is not helpful and focus on what is. Look for patterns in the feedback you receive.
4. Remember that criticism is not an indictment of you; it is simply a response to something you wrote on one occasion.
5. Listen to praise with the same intensity that you listen to criticism. They really do mean it.
This charter is a “living document” and will be reviewed by group members approximately once a year. Adapted from Writers on the Plains Writing Group Guidelines, Colorado State University Libraries: http://lib.colostate.edu/writersontheplains/collaborate/writing.html