We the members of PWG probably have different hopes and reasons for joining.  However, the love of the written word is clear for all to see.  Even the best of writers can benefit from a new pair of eyes, as it is easy, in our own mind, to fill in the odd comma or conjunction that is not actually on the page.  If our aspirations are to reach a wider audience, the opportunity to try it out on a selection of sympathetic readers with a wide range of skills and experiences, should not be wasted.  We also owe it to our fellow members to offer our opinions honestly and without fear.

We must take it on faith that the PWG family are our friends.  Friends do not judge but true friends will point out, in a kindly way, our defects.  In fact, it is the duty of a friend not to allow us to go out in public with our dress tucked into our knickers, metaphorically speaking. The advice we offer in feedback will most probably be more equivalent to straightening a tie, removing a stray hair from a lapel or warning of a scrap of spinach stuck to the teeth, but as friends we are duty bound to do this.

We must be gracious when advice is offered in good faith. Perhaps I like my tie at half mast but I appreciate the concern of the tie straighteners in my life. Submitting work for publication is equivalent to a job interview, we wouldn’t want to turn up looking as though we have just got out of bed, so let the group act as a mirror for you.

Furthermore, platitudes, faint praise and insincere feedback do the writer no good at all. Although there is always some merit in a piece of work, and this must be recognised, we should bring all that we have learned to the table. I commend to the group the excellent guidelines, which have stood the group in good stead for many years, and ask that we all try to take an interest in the offerings of others. The guidelines temper the feedback with a level of sensitivity not found in the real world of publishing so we must develop a thick skin. Thick but not impervious, that is. Consider the opinions carefully, especially if they come from more than one source.  You can cherry pick the elements that suit your style and appreciate the efforts of those who take the time to look at your offerings.

By entering into a dialogue on the subject both the writer and reviewer benefit and by doing this in the meeting, others may join in and either contribute or profit from it. It would encourage your colleagues to provide regular and honest feedback if you let them know what action you have taken following their advice. That might be by sending them a rewritten piece based on their comments or simply telling them when you next meet.

I hope that this will help us all feel more comfortable with submitting original stories and providing feedback.  As always, I invite you to comment freely.

 

Sincerely,

 John G.

Thoughts on Feedback
 
Fiction Review guide

Opening and Point of View

  • Does the opening paragraph grab attention from the outset?

  • Does it present a problem to be resolved?

  • Is it clear from whose point of view the story is being told?

  • Is the point of view consistent? It should never change from one person to another within the same scene.

  • Were you keen to read on?

 Plot

  • Was the plot easy to follow?

  • Was it believable?

  • Was everything resolved at the end?

  • Did the story start in the right place?

  • Pace: Does the story move fast enough to hold interest?

 Conflict

  • Is there plenty of conflict?

  • Is the conflict (emotional, physical, dangerous or thrilling) appropriate for the plot? 

  • Is the conflict real and believable? 

  • Are all problems resolved by the final paragraph?

  • Does the conflict bring about change in one or more of the characters? 

 Characterisation

  • Does the main character move through the story like a cardboard cut-out, or is he real? <

  • Are the supporting characters strong enough to hold their place in the story? 

  • Is personality shown by actions and words?

  • Is the attraction, or hatred, between the main characters credible? 

  • Do character traits and mannerisms show upbringing, inner turmoil,insecurity, judgemental behaviour and/or compassion? 

 Dialogue

  • Is there sufficient dialogue to move the story along?

  • Is it possible to differentiate between speakers? Or do they all speak in the same way?

  • Is it easy to sense the character's anger, pleasure, distress, or other emotion from the dialogue?

  • Are there distracting and unnecessary dialogue tags? They should only be used if it isn't absolutely clear who is speaking.

  • If read out loud, does the dialogue sound real?

 Showing not Telling and Title

  • Was the story written in one (telling) narrative? (This is acceptable in a monologue.)

  • Was the scene set by actions and dialogue?

  • Was the scene setting subtle or contrived?

  • Does the title fit the story?

  • Is the title intriguing, teasing, amusing and/or shocking?

  •  

REVIEWING TIPS

Try and include in your review:

  • Advice on beginnings/endings.

  • Possible market/competition

  • Advice on grammar, punctuation, spelling

  • Inclusion of clichés

  • Always try and find something positive to say!

 
Non Fiction Review Guide

Overall Impressions:

  • Evaluate the work as a reader

Content:

  • Does it open with something that captures your attention and makes you want to keep reading?

  • Does the pace seem appropriate for the type of information being covered? Can you clearly identify the subject or main idea?

  • Is the main idea supported by evidence, anecdotes, interviews, viewpoints, or some other method?

Audience:

  • Is it clear who the target audience is for the book, article, or essay?

  • Is the tone, language, and reading level appropriate for that audience?

Format:

  • Is it following standard submission guidelines for that type of work, or is it tailored towards guidelines of a specific market?

  • Is it organized logically, so the reader can follow the development of the topic or progression of the events?

The Mechanics:

  • Evaluate the work for structural strengths and weaknesses.

Structure:

  • Were paragraphs and sentences appropriate in length for the type of information presented?

  • Would varying their length add interest or adjust the pace more effectively? Does the choice of words feel appropriate?

  •  Is the information presented in a way that the target audience will find easy to understand?

  • Does the conclusion summarize the main points effectively, or bring the work to a satisfying end?

Grammar:

  • Are there obvious mistakes in grammar and spelling?

  • Are there too many clichés in the narrative or dialog?

Extras:

  • If there are sidebars, charts, graphs, pictures, or other supporting documents, do they support the premise, theme, arguments, or hypothesis?

  • Are they formatted properly and annotated in the body of the work?

The format for the meetings is simple. Once everyone has settled down around the table we collect the weekly subscription. Currently this is €3.00 this covers the cost of the room and a drink at half time. The leader of the meeting will convey any items of news then invite members to read out their current work. Prority is given to responses to the previous meetings writing prompt but it is open for anyone to try out any thing they would like feedback on or which they feel might be entertaining or of interest.
The work is dicussed in open forum. Please read the guidelines below.
From time to time members research and present a tutorial or quiz on some aspect of writing.The meeting concludes with the setting of a writing prompt for the following week.

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