Writers Group Protocol and Guidelines

Protocol for

Manzanita Night Writers  Sessions

A few guidelines for meaningful and helpful critique sessions:

Everyone in the group agrees that meeting on Zoom is optimum at this time.  Every 1st and 3rd Monday from 6:30 – 9:30. Invitations come via email, so be sure we have your correct email address. If a major holiday or special event falls on a Monday, we may not meet, ore we may.  Email Monika at manzanitawp@gmail.com for updates.

Membership is by invitation to the Zoom group. Contact manzanitawp@gmail.com if you are interested, and you live in our region. We may do two breakout rooms if the group is too large and everyone has work to share.

Advantages to Zoom:

  • No need to print out copies for all members (saves on ink and paper)
  • Posting on our Manzanita Writers Press Ning offers an opportunity for writers to get additional feedback and specific edits (group: Manzanita Night Writers). To be invited into the Ning, email me a request:  manzanitawp@gmail.com
  • Distance accessibility is optimum – we can be anywhere and still join in
  • Convenience in the comfort of your own home

General process:

It’s a seriously-friendly group, and we aim to keep it that way.

  • Writers share five pages of a manuscript-in-progress on the screen, and they read text aloud (or they can opt to have another participant read, which helps the writer pick up nuances and note where readers stumble over clunky sentences).
  • Readers take notes on the text and then share feedback.  Group members take turns in offering feedback, one by one.
  • Previews of work can be posted on the private, members-only  Manzanita Writers NING online writing space in the Manzanita Night Writers Group for viewing by the group only. Manzanitawriterspress.ning.com  is the Ning log-in address. You can set up your profile after I send you an email invitation link. Then you will receive an invitation to join the Manzanita Night Writers group inside the larger membership.
  • Reviewers may prefer not to offer feedback as they choose.  If a listener/reader has any other comments that are not already covered by anyone in the group, after everyone has had a chance to speak who would like to speak, then he/she can bring it up.
  • Writers sharing their work are asked not to defend or explain their writing being reviewed, or comment after the group members speak. They listen and may ask for clarification at the end of the reviews or ask questions of reviewers.


Courteous and positive suggestions for revision are welcome.

Comments on content structure, style, plot, pacing, transitions, diction, dialogue, themes, character development, voice, tone, literary devices, etc. are the norm.

Don’t hog the critique time. Leave areas and items to discuss for others. In other words, you may have a list of items to cover,  but prioritize, maybe three main things, and if time allows after others have had a chance, then you can add more commentary.

Every writer has about a half hour of time allotted, including comments, depending on how many are sharing that night.

Please be sure to note any grammatical/spelling/usage errors in written form on the Ning, which is not necessary to do in discussion. Small grammatical issues should be left out of oral feedback.

If there is a repetitive craft issue to discuss in a piece, then that can be brought up and we can all benefit from it. The Oxford comma rule may come up, or another stylistic matter of use to the entire group.

Any private comments regarding the work, as well as follow-up, should be placed on the Ning posting where writers can engage more heavily in the content at their leisure, and where writers can solicit specific commentary from selected members.

The Ning is a great place to edit the work in more detail, so writers are urged to join the online platform and post their chapters there.

The work shared visually onscreen for members while the author reads aloud helps comprehension. Often, the writer can pick up on problems when the work is read aloud.

Writers are encouraged to post their work on the Manzanitawriterspress.ning.com site, of which they must be members (no charge). Contact manzanitawp@gmail.com for more information.

See you 1st and 3rd Monday nights from 6:30 to 9:30 pm,  by invitation to the Zoom session. Contact manzanitawp@gmail.com if you are interested. We may do breakout sessions if groups are large.

Service area:  Generally, a 70-mile radius of San Andreas, Calaveras County. But some of our members live out of the area. Some have moved out of state and stayed in the group.

Don’t forget to contact us by email or phone and let us know if you cannot make it to a meeting, especially if you are scheduled to share work to read  manzanitawp@gmail.com   Give a couple of days notice, please, and notify us early if you were up to read and cannot make it, as we won’t always check email the time prior to meeting.

Normally, we have anywhere from 6 to 10 people attend.

Looking forward to seeing you at the meetings!