Leaders of an online critique group are responsible for setting up new members and preparing everyone for weekly critique sessions. Having one or two people as the go-to is helpful in keeping each meeting running in an organized manner.
My previous post discussed How To Set Up File Sharing For An Online Critique Group, so your file structure is in place and ready for writers to upload the pages they need critiqued. But first, everyone will need access to your shared drive. We’ll also discuss meeting RSVPs and assigning pages to other writers in full preparation of a critique session.
How to Share Google Drive Folders
Let’s start by sharing the group’s main folder with fellow members. Again, we’ll use Google Drive for the demonstration. Below is a picture of our shared drive and the pop up where others are granted access to the shared drive. To access this pop up, click on the people icon circled in red at the top of the page.
For quick, less personalized sharing, enter the email addresses of those who need access to the main folder, then click on Done. This allows members to access all folders under the main folder. Referring to the example, writers can access the RMFW Spec Critique Group folder (see My Drive > RMFW Spec Fic Critique Group at the top) and all the folders listed under the Name column on the left.
For a more personalized invitation, click on Advanced (circled in red at the lower-right) to open a text box at the bottom of the pop up. This is where you can enter a message that will attach to the sharing notification email members will receive. This is the option I use to add additional instructions that pertain to our group.
After submitting the sharing form, as mentioned, members receive an email notification. It’s best to follow up with members to verify they received it and are able to access the drive.
IMPORTANT: While Google does not restrict sharing to Google accounts, entering an email address from another provider such as Yahoo or AOL may hinder a member’s ability to access the drive. If this occurs, send another invitation to the member’s gmail account.
Critique Session Announcements and RSVPs
If you already lead a critique group, you probably follow a process for inviting members to a session and collecting RSVPs. It’s still worth mentioning some of the ground rules an effective group follows to prepare for the day of the meeting.
Send invitations 3 to 5 days prior to the actual session date. Our writers receive an email invitation sent via MailChimp on Friday mornings to attend a Tuesday evening session.
Provide a deadline to RSVP for the session. Our writers are only required to RSVP if attending, and the confirmation must reach the critique leader by Sunday at noon.
Enforce a deadline for attendees to upload their critique pages to the shared drive. Our writers are required to upload critique pages by noon on Sunday. Late pages are allowed up to 6:00 PM, but the critique leader must be notified of the late entry by the noon deadline.
After confirming the critique attendees, the leader assigns pages to the other writers to critique. Our group leader considers the following during the assignment process:
Writers critique no more than three submissions per week. Note that our word count is set at 3000 words per submission, although we do allow a few extra words to finish a scene.
Critique assignments are based on like speculative fiction subgenres. We try to pair fantasy writers with fantasy writers, sci fi writers with sci fi writers, and horror writers with horror writers, but everyone understands that this is not always possible.
Critique assignments are accessible to attendees by 2:00 PM on Sunday. Critique assignments are placed in a Google spreadsheet that resides in the same folder where the attendees upload their pages for the current week’s critique.
At this point, the attendees are ready to complete their critiques. Tomorrow’s post by R.C. Beckett will detail how this is best accomplished.
Winnie Jean Howard is the founder of the Spec Fic Critique Group and moderates most of the critique sessions. She writes dark comical stories for all ages and has a passion for horror movies, zombies, wine, and evil in pop culture. Originally from Chicago, she now lives in Colorado where she spend her days writing and being manipulated by 2 mischievous beagles.
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