Founded by Dario Ciriello in 2007, the Written in Blood (WiB) writers’ group comprises eight members, several of whom have since broken into professional print and/or signed book deals with major publishers*. The group’s name was chosen to stress the seriousness of each member’s commitment to their art and to the rest of the group. Click on any name in the list below to be taken to that member’s website.
- Aliette de Bodard
- Keyan Bowes
- Dario Ciriello
- Janice Hardy
- T.L. Morganfield
- Doug Sharp
- Juliette Wade
- Genevieve Williams
The WRITTEN IN BLOOD Writer’s Group
WiB is a variant on the standard crit group model, the primary difference being that there are no regularly scheduled critique dates: the group convenes at short notice when a member has a story ready for critique.
Normally, a crit group – whether of the real-world or virtual variety – meets at regular intervals (weekly, monthly, or whatever). While this often works well, there are times when one or another member can’t make a certain date; or a story is not ready in time for a deadline but needs to be critted fast to go out to antho with a tight deadline.
For face-to-face groups, especially among unpublished writers, the regularly scheduled meeting is an excellent idea in that it provides a sense of community and support for those who need it to feel like real writers. Regular meetings also help in that they provide encouragement, even subtle pressure, to write and produce stories for critique with some frequency.
WiB is an online critique group structured as follows:
- The group is open to writers of Science Fiction and Fantasy only, although work within pertinent subgenres such as Alternate History or Slipstream (whatever that is) will generally be acceptable. Work outside the generally accepted spectrum of F/SF (e.g., mainstream, mystery, etc.) will not be read by the group and should not be submitted for critique. This is a strict genre group.
- Criteria for membership are either professional publication credits or numerous semi-pro publications. In certain instances, unpublished authors whose work is deemed by the group to be of sufficiently high standard may be accepted.
- Each member’s commitment to the group shall be absolute in return for absolute commitment from every other member. This should be taken as a blood oath. Nothing short of death, divorce, or alien attack will be accepted as an excuse for a member flaking on the group, and even then it had better only occur once! (Well, okay, exceptions will be made for members actually going away on holiday).
- The group will consist at all times of a minimum of six and a maximum of nine members. Membership will generally be by invitation only. Once a member is accepted, he/she may sponsor a new candidate if there is a vacancy.
- Candidates for membership will be required to submit a story (or novel excerpt up to 7k words – doesn’t have to be standalone, just representative) for critique, and will be required to critique a story previously critiqued by the group. The group will then conduct a private vote, with a 75% positive threshold for acceptance.
- The group convenes only when a member has work which requires critique. There may thus be long or short gaps between work being submitted for critique. But unlike other groups, there will be only one story to read at any one time (see below), so although the call to arms will be unpredictable, the workload on any one occasion will generally be minor.
- Egos and politics must be checked at the door. If a member has serious philosophical, religious, or political issues with a submission, they should begin their critique by declaring themselves not in the target audience for this particular work, but make every effort to critique the work objectively. Even if you absolutely hate a story you can still critique prose, setting, characterization, character and plot arcs, inconsistencies, etc., etc.
- Where any member has an issue with me, another member, or the group as a whole, I should like to have the matter brought promptly to my attention rather than allowed to fester.
- The group will run on democratic lines whenever possible, but as founder I shall have final say on all matters.
When a member has a story ready to go, he/she sends out a notice to the entire group that a story is coming. I’ve set up a Yahoo! group site for this and story discussion. (First come, first served: once a crit call goes out, no other member shall request a critique until the current story has been critiqued.)
Within 24 hours, the story will be made available to all members of the group, by posting in the Files section of the Yahoo! WiB site. If the member fails to post the story within 48 hours, they must wait a week before beginning the process again.
When a story is submitted for critique, I’ll send a message notifying members of the ‘critique due by’ date and time, which will be not less than five full days after the story is submitted. Critiques must be submitted, without fail, by the due date and time. Critiques should be thorough and preferably not less than about three hundred words; inline comments and line edits are certainly helpful but not mandatory. In the case of novels or works over 20,000 words, members will have not less than twenty-one days to read and critique the work (see Story Length Schedule for other ms. lengths).
When all the critiques are in, members are required to read one another’s critiques promptly. On the day following the ‘critique due by’ time, the member whose work has been critiqued will have the opportunity to ask questions or open a discussion via the Yahoo! group site concerning points raise in the critiques, or just thank everyone for their amazing insights.
While the above system may seem somewhat strict and overly choreographed, the point is to have a group that can invariably deliver a critique within a week of a piece being ready, come hell, high water, or Christmas. While reading and critiquing four or five stories for the same date each month (as in a regular, in-person group) can prove difficult, nobody can claim to be so busy that they can’t read and critique a story in five days, especially when they’re warned a day or two ahead that it’s on its way. The point of this group is not to encourage people to write – members are expected to be dedicated, even compulsive, writers – but to be there for one another on request, without fail, with constructive and insightful critique.
Finally, a good group needs to play and hang out a little, too. This is another reason why I’ve set us up a Yahoo! site, and I hope that friendships will naturally develop as we get to know one another. Bottom line: we don’t invite anyone into the group less’n they write and critique well, and we LIKE them