Meet face-to-face monthly (usually we meet for two hours on a Saturday).
Change the meeting locations, so that the distance traveled is equitable over time. For example, if we meet west of town one month, we meet north of town the next month, and downtown the month after that. We tend to favor coffeeshops and relaxed restaurants, and sometimes meet at members’ homes.
Exchange work (3,000 words max) via email one week prior to meeting (firm deadline). If a writer’s work exceeds that limit, the others have the option to read and critique only up to the word limit.
Keep in touch via email and BACCA’s private facebook group if there is any need to reschedule. On the day of the meeting, communicate by phone and text as well if any last-minute changes or emergencies.
Prepare written and printed critique notes on all work, prior to the monthly meeting, using two categories: “What’s working” and “What needs work.” (We follow the guidelines by Luke Whisnant.) Optionally, also print out and annotate the work. Return to the writer hard copy of these notes and w-i-p printout after the 20-minute critique is complete.
If a writer needs to skip a month, submitting no work for critique, she is still welcome to critique the other manuscripts and participate in the meeting.
It’s OK to make an “extra mile” request – for writing support beyond the monthly 3K words, or for attending an open mic reading, or reviewing a published work – but it is not expected that the others will be able to oblige – some may, and some may not.
At the meeting
Each writer gets 20 minutes (timed) for critique. The first 15 minutes are for the others to comment freely. During this time, the writer remains silent. The last five minutes or so are for the writer to respond, ask questions, and follow up on specific points.
Schedule the next meeting at or shortly after the monthly meeting. Once the next meeting is scheduled, the deadline for emailing work-in-progress is also set, for 11pm the Friday one week prior to the meeting. For example, if the next meeting is set for Saturday the 30th, w-i-p’s are due by 11pm Friday the 22nd.
Twice a year we schedule additional time at the monthly meeting for ‘business’ discussion. This has included talk about marketing, progress finding a literary agent, methods for sending out submissions to journals and contests, planning for BACCA’s panel discussion at Virginia Festival of the Book 2013, etc.
Keep the work − and all other topics discussed − confidential. Do not share outside the group.