Critique Meetings

How it works

You need to be a member of Spectrum to join our critique sessions — it’s free to join and there’s no obligation to stay a member if the group isn’t the right fit for you.

We post details of each critique meeting on our MeetUp page, which is where all members need to book their place to attend.

At each critique meeting, attendees give feedback on one or two pieces of writing that have been submitted in advance by members eligible to do so (see below) — the submissions are usually complete short stories, but can also be the first 1-2 chapters from a novel.

Each submission should be no more than 5,000-6,000 words and must be the member’s own and original work. We do not currently accept any submissions written by or with the assistance of AI or LLM technology.

We are willing to consider work up to around 10,000 words for full members who have been critiqued before by Spectrum and if the current queue is short or empty. (If in doubt, speak one of the friendly admins first!)

All attendees are expected to read the submission(s) before attending the meeting, and to provide constructive feedback to the author.

The structure of each meeting is as follows:

  • The meeting host (typically a member of the organising team) facilitates the meeting and runs the agenda. They will explain the format of the meeting at the start.
  • We begin with first-name introductions, so both new and existing members can get a sense of who everyone is and what we all write.
  • The meeting host will give any general updates about the group before we move into the main critique session. This may include upcoming meetings, socials, special events, fundraisers, or annual short story contest news.
  • For each submission, the author will first be asked to read out the first few lines/paragraphs of their piece to help set the scene.
  • Then, each attendee provides a short verbal critique in keeping with the Milford system.
    • The meeting host will manage the order of critiques and keep them to time (usually up to 3 minutes each, or 2 minutes 30 seconds if it’s a particularly busy meeting). Attendees can also provide the author with more detailed written comments as a follow-up after the meeting, if the author is happy to receive these. 
    • The author should not respond after each critique, in order to keep things moving. After all the attendees have given their verbal feedback, we then hand over to the author for a few minutes so they can reflect on the feedback, answer any questions that came up, or respond to any points raised.
    • We will then have a few more minutes for a more freestyle discussion, which can also include suggestions of solutions for issue that might have arisen during feedback.

If we have two submissions, we’ll take a short comfort break after the first round of critiques is over.

Submitting your work / Eligibility

In order to submit a piece for one of our critique sessions, new members must have attended at least two critique meetings and provided feedback for others before they can submit their own work for critique. This is to ensure that you are comfortable with both giving and receiving critical/constructive feedback, as well as gauging whether or not we are the right group for you.

Once you have attended and given feedback in at least a couple of meetings, feel free to submit your story or novel chapter through the Members area of this website, and it will be assigned to one of the upcoming meetings. If you have a preferred date, you can let us know when you are uploading your story.

Join Spectrum Writers

Come along to a first critique session and see if we’re the right fit for you!