Sunday, December 6, 2009


September 2009



• To offer members the opportunity to develop their individual potential as writers through mutual support, encouragement, skill-based activities and presentations.
• To encourage members to set writing and publishing targets for themselves.
• To foster links with other agencies, outlets and published authors to enable members to achieve publication.
• To offer like-minded people a friendly and inviting environment in which to develop their writing skills.

In July of every second year the positions of Chairman and Deputy Chairman fall due for election or re-election. The results are determined by secret ballot. Proxy votes are allowed. If no winner emerges, a second ballot is held. The newly elected members take office in the September following.

The positions of Treasurer, Secretary and Librarian are voluntary and approved by a show of hands at a normal meeting when any such vacancy needs to be filled.

A Biennial General Meeting is held upon conclusion of the voting process at the end of July.

During the course of normal writers’ group business, temporary committees are established to handle any other business.

Membership is open to any aspiring writer whether or not resident in Cyprus. If the group becomes so large it cannot fulfil its purpose, a waiting list may be established. There is no membership fee. Contributions towards refreshments and a petty cash kitty are determined by the Treasurer as required. The group funds are audited by sub-committee annually at the end of July.

Any change to these guidelines is discussed by the group and decided by a majority vote of those members present.





There comes a time when you have written, revised, tinkered and pondered to the point that you can no longer judge your own work objectively. It is at this point that the thoughtful feedback of a writing group is invaluable. Sharing your work is a terrifying step. Nobody likes to be criticised.

Acknowledge that and move on.


1. Consensus was reached regarding the presentation of HOMEWORK, which should have a word limit of approximately 800. The author would provide the group with a specified number of copies for distribution either at the meeting or by e-mail. These are for the hard of hearing and a few others who need it beforehand. (Consult the Secretary for required numbers).

2. The work shall be as polished and complete as the writer can make it, so that the group’s evaluation will be relevant and helpful rather than devoted to issues authors could have handled themselves.

3. It is always a good idea to practice reading your work out loud before presentation at a meeting. A voice recorder is helpful. This is useful in discovering mistakes in flow and syntax. Whilst members will gain benefit from reading out their own work, in the early stages they might wish to ask someone else to read out the work on their behalf.

4. Use the microphone if available. If you are unfamiliar with its use, please ask for help.

5. Let your work speak for itself without the need of long preambles and scene setting.


1. The page, not the author, is critiqued. The goal is to make this effort work as best it can – not to decide whether this work should exist, or whether this author should write.

2. Ignore comments such as “I just don’t want to read about murder/sex/addiction/etc” that are aimed at rewriting or rethinking your basic concept, or those who want you to sound like their favourite author. The ideal group accepts the spirit and intention of your story and tries to decide whether it accomplished what you intended. The group does so specifically, in a way that helps you re-think any problems you are having with a piece of work.

3. Begin your evaluation by noting what did work. Be tactful. Remember that every writer’s ego is as fragile as your own.

4. The evaluation and assessment you do in return is not selfless. As you progress from “I didn’t like it” towards a constructive analysis of what works and why, you are teaching yourself to edit. This is a real bonus when revising your own work.

5. Don’t immediately jump at the solutions offered. It’s always easier to spot problems than it is to solve them. Pay attention, note them down and sift them through later. Make your own decision about which, if any, will work.

6. Be honest. People deserve your true reaction. If you stick to the text and are specific, you will be helpful and not destructive. You need not suggest remedies for problem areas, but you do need to define clearly what you believe the problems are.

7. The writer should avoid becoming defensive. Listen to the comments. Voice-record them if you like. We tend to recall the negatives, so a recording will often surprise you with the positive comments you mentally discarded.

Page 2 Writing Guidelines for The Paphos Writers’ Group – September 2009

8. Do not defend or explain your work during assessment. Let each evaluator speak in turn while you listen – and make notes. Don’t start a discussion about it – just listen to what your fellow writers have to say.

9. Understand that within any group you will find opinions that seem rational and those that do not. Learn whose opinions you can trust and politely ignore those who don’t ever seem in harmony with your own approach to writing.


In addition to the above points -

1. Work, such as manuscripts, is easier to evaluate ‘in the ink’. For any work that you wish to have critiqued and that is intended for submission to a publisher of any kind, each member you approach needs to have a copy. In the age of electronic communication, such members should be supplied with an e-mailed copy of the work to be critiqued and, if necessary, printed out by the recipient. It is understood that the evaluators will ‘bleed’ on it in RED ink as this makes it easier to identify comments. The work will not be discussed in a meeting until each group member has read it. The main advantage of this system is that workshop time would be spent discussing manuscripts, not listening to them.

2. Although grammar, punctuation and spelling are of primary concern, don’t nit-pick. Feel free to ‘bleed’ on obvious errors, mark the things that need looking at, and let it go. All manuscripts need a read through by someone who is good at spotting such mistakes – you can either swap services with a friend, or pay for a professional to do a proper edit.

3. Be as specific as possible when critiquing. Rather than “I lost interest here”, which isn’t helpful, look again at the manuscript and find out what it was that lost you. It’s much more useful to be told: “Here I got annoyed with John – I wanted him to notice what was going on under his nose, and he didn’t. I stopped caring whether he was in danger or not …” This allows writers to assess their work and either justify John’s oblivious behaviour, the situation, or decide the evaluators are all wrong. Jot notes in the margin if you suspect “He dunnit” – either this will alert the writer to a problem, or please them because the red herrings are working.

4. Write your critique, either as notes on the back of the manuscript or as a separate typed script. Think carefully about what you are going to say as the writer is likely to analyse every word of your assessment.

5. If you feel that a work can be tightened, say so. Give a few examples, and leave it there. The writer can do the rest.

6. Don’t yet answer questions; the first round of evaluation will only establish that questions exist. After that, you can open discussion, ask for clarification of how this particular work met or failed to meet its own goals.

7. When submitting your manuscript for critique, if you have a question that needs attention, write it at the end of the piece, such as, “Did you understand that the image in the mirror was an hallucination?” or “Did Algernon’s behaviour too blatantly flag his secret?”

8. If everyone disagrees on the meaning or intent of your work, it may be a sign that your work is unfocused. W.C. Fields said, “When enough people tell you that you’re drunk, it’s time to sit down.”

These writing guidelines are just that – guidelines. They have been found useful by members of our and other writers groups. They are not rules. You may use them or not as you wish.