We’re not too picky, but we do ask that you please double space and run a basic spell check over your work. Page numbers are also appreciated. We want to focus on the content of your work rather than the formatting, so make it easy for us!
When it comes to content, submit anything your heart desires–literary, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, screenplays, cereal boxes. Whatever your genre we probably have someone in the group who loves the stuff. And even if we don’t have an expert in the group, our blank stares and mumbling questions are usually delivered in a nice fashion.
Each week, we critique each other’s original submissions, both in writing and “in person” (that is, face-to-face via online video chatting). For the written reviews, which we do before the web meeting, we typically use the Track Changes function in Microsoft Word for in-text comments. In-text notes include anything from grammar corrections to word choice suggestions to emotional reactions. A paragraph at the end, for the author, details specific things the person did well and recommendations for revision. Questions to consider while reviewing:
What is the story about? What themes emerge?
Does the story maintain a clear setting? Is the plot clear, and does it serve the story?
What is the Point of View? Does the POV serve the story?
Is the authoring SHOWing rather than TELLing?
These notes serve as a way for readers to wrap their heads around the submissions and as a jumping-off point for discussion, as well as providing something concrete for the writers to return to when they dive into revision.
Naturally our meetings start with hellos/how are yous. After that, though, we dive into the business of the day, which starts with the published work.
Before each meeting, we read a published short story submitted by one of our members. These stories vary widely in format, style, and subject matter, and can be classics or newly published works. Whoever submits the published work should have also posted a few questions on the blog for us to think about as we read the story. Usually that same person leads the discussion as we talk about our general impressions of the published work, and then brings up each of the questions to see how each Mugster interpreted the story. We pay special attention to the craft of writing, discussing character development, plot, pacing, etc. and how it affects the story as a whole.
Next, we move on to reviewing the submissions of our own work that members have sent out. Generally we have two or three submissions, although we’ve had as many as five in a single week. With each submission, one of the other Mugsters summarizes the story. We have found that the summary is an important step, because sometimes there are details within the story that people miss, and it’s helpful to the writer to see where his/her intentions are (or are not) getting across. We review each submission in turn, with the various members asking questions and giving constructive criticism. It’s a really good idea for the author to take notes during this process. Often we come up with really helpful ideas and tips that aren’t included in the written commentary that each one of us provides.
At the end of the night, we finish up with any general news that we didn’t talk about at the beginning. This can include contests we’ve found, submissions we’ve made to publications, things we’d like to share, whatever sparks our interest. We also talk about who will submit the next published work, and any changes to our meeting schedule or this blog.
Consideration for Membership: Prerequisites
In order to be considered for membership in MUG, candidates must submit a writing sample, consisting of two separate pieces between 10-15 pages each. Short stories and novel chapters are acceptable.
Applicants may be invited to participate in a probationary period, during which the applicant will attend meetings, submit work, and critique pieces as if he/she were a permanent member. During this trial period, the existing group will evaluate the applicant’s level of participation, work, and commitment.
All candidates must have completed at least one college-level fiction course, and must be familiar with basic concepts such as POV, “show vs. tell,” plot points, character arc, etc. Pleas; no you’re grammer. (That sentence should have killed you a little bit.) MUG may accept members who demonstrate significant improvement during the probationary period.
We are eager to meet and work with other writers. We’re committed to deepening our skill, honing our craft, and embracing the art of the written word. To supporting and encouraging each other, to being successful published authors, to sharing our messages with the world.