Join the Alliance of Writers Online!

Main Index
AOW IndexAOW Index

   

GROUP GUIDELINES

  • The Alliance group is a place of safety and acceptance.
  • Confidentiality rules. Discussions or work that is shared is confidential and is not to leave the group unless the author/member gives you specific permission.
  • Group or personal issues (discomfort, complaints, etc.,) should be expressed to the appropriate person or to the facilitator for resolution.
  • Creative ideas are protected within the group. This group will not violate the creativity of another.
  • Members will commit to being creative and supporting others in their creativity.
  • Creative feedback must support the author in a compassionate manner and build on strengths rather than focus on weaknesses. It should be genuine and honest with useful comments.

Feedback Guidelines

Feedback is exchanged between writers for the purpose of helping one another improve writing skills. All writers are at different stages of developing the knowledge of their craft and all have different areas of expertise and knowledge.

The process of giving feedback is the sharing of this knowledge with one another as it relates to a specific piece of writing. The whole point of giving feedback is to help a writer improve.

There is no single way to give feedback. Some people prefer to read the piece once, making comments as they go along. Others prefer to read the piece once in its entirety without thinking about details in order to form their first impressions and then reread with their red pens out.

Some people like to keep a checklist handy to make sure they don't overlook important elements of the feedback; others prefer to comment only on what is apparent in the reading.

Many people choose to insert their comments throughout it in a clear, distinct type in the same way, as an editor would work with a manuscript. Others prefer to refer only to the parts they are discussing. Often people experienced in giving feedback will use both at different times, depending on the depth of the feedback.

  • The goal is to help another writer improve.
  • Keep it impersonal - avoid any form of nastiness.
  • Give the type of feedback you would like to receive.
  • Give praise where praise is due.
  • Know that praise is not enough; feedback for improvement of the content is also required.
  • Use the "sandwich" technique. (good, not-so-hot, good)
  • Be clear in your comments; provide specific examples and suggestions for improvements.
  • Do not be tempted to rewrite for the writer. Examples are appropriate.
  • Be sincere.
  • Be kind.

Sharing Work

Due to time constraints and the size of the group here are a few suggestions. They can be adjusted as needed.

Have copies of your work for each person so that we can take them home for the week and comment on when we return to the group. Most of us prefer you to email us the work. Courtesy dictates that you send work in the body of the email and not as an attachment. We will soon have an online forum for posting work and feedback. Each author has the choice of having have a discussion on the piece at the next meeting or just taking the comments home to consider.

As the group continues to grow, we will begin to have sign ups for submission or break out into specialty genre groups.

Additional Suggestions:

Proofread. Don't expect writers to proofread for you. Make sure your work is as error-free as possible.

Plan on exchanging constructive feedback with others in the group. The most common complaint about groups is that they are often unfair. The reason they seem unfair is because some writers will share their work, receive comments from others, but not return the favor. Another injustice occurs when the quality of the comments are not reasonably equal in effort, regardless of experience.

Even a beginning writer has something valuable to say. Writers need to have an idea of how readers will react to their work. You, as the author, are the final judge of the value of any comment.

Do not defend your work. If your work is not understood, then it either needs to be clarified or the person offering the comment wasn't reading closely enough. If one person misreads your work, don't worry about it, but if several say the same thing, then it is worth reconsidering.

Use tact in your comments. The best feedback inspires the author to look for creative solutions and more effective alternatives. Rather than saying, "I think you should change this part because it is confusing,." you could say, "Consider changing this part for clarity." The later wording leaves the author with a better sense of control with additional options.

Do not write the work for the author. It is very tempting to inflict our own ideas on an author. If there is a characterization or plot problem, simply point it out and explain why you had a problem with it.

Be specific. It is of no value to simply say you like or dislike something. We need to know why so we can do it again or avoid the pitfall later. If you don't like something, try to determine why. Also be specific about your favorite scenes, lines and descriptions.

Use care. Feedback can be uncomfortable at times. Some of us can deal with it better than others. Work at making your comments useful.

Things to consider when writing feedback:

Believability Clarity Opening lines
Best lines Confusion Grammar
Style Punctuation Spelling
Theme Characterization Most Memorable
Dialogue Voice & Tone Setting
Conflict
Resolutions
Rhythm & Pace
Plot
Point of View
Meaning

Miscellaneous

All members and visitors are expected to be courteous while the group is in session. If the facilitator deems that it is necessary to ask for consideration, please abide by those directives. In consideration of other members, any person causing a disruption, exhibiting any hostility (or extreme behavior) will be asked to leave. The founder or facilitator of the group has the sole right to refuse admittance to anyone and to decline further participation. Any inappropriate communication in any medium will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Common Courtesy

Everyone is in his or her own stage of development both personally and professionally. You don't have to like everyone, but you do have to be courteous.

The meetings are for writing related discussions, so please refrain from discussing outside social activities during the group session. Get together before or after the group to catch up.

Secondary conversations are inappropriate within the group during reading, feedback, or when another member is discussing his or her writing challenges.

Guests are always welcome provided their attendance is not disruptive. The attendance of minors and children, irrespective of their age or mental capacity, is not appropriate or in the interests of the guest speaker or the group in general. Please check with the facilitator prior to bringing such guests. If you have received permission, please sit in an area where any disruption or fidgeting will not disturb the group or speaker.

Regarding late arrivals or early departures, please save your social interchanges for an appropriate time and take a seat where members and speakers will not be disturbed by those comings and goings. Those that have the floor will appreciate this courtesy. When possible, alert the facilitator of your need to arrive late or to leave before the end of the meeting.

Electronic devices should not interrupt the meeting. If you are using such a device to take notes, please sit in an area where it will not be distracting, and turn cell phones and pagers off or to a vibration setting. If this is not possible, please muffle the device or leave it in your vehicle.