I was invited to be guest critiquer (shouldn't it be just critic?) at the PPW Open Critique last night. As I've never attended the event, I wasn't sure quite what to expect beyond the little bit I'd been told. People bring in pages and pass out copies to the attendees. Everyone reads for a certain amount of time. Then they go around the circle and give feedback. The "special guest" basically bats clean-up and gives a longer critique on what works and what doesn't with suggestions. I have to say that I didn't think it would be particularly pleasant.
As the day progressed, my prophesy seemed to be right on. There was no information on the PPW website about how many pages are allowed or how many copies to make. I didn't receive an email giving me a heads up as to how many people had registered. By the time I left work, tired, I was hoping that maybe no one would make it. Then I arrived at Cottonwood (where most PPW small events are held) to find that the classroom we normally use was occupied by an art class. The person in charge (PIC) of the event wasn't there. But neither were any other writers. Maybe I'd get home much earlier than expected.
No such luck. Two woman arrived. Both were new to PPW and the Open Critique and looked to me for answers. I had none. But we chatted about writing and PPW. They were very nice. The PIC arrived and informed us that they always use a little table near the back entrance. How silly of me not to have thought of that!
Eight people attended besides the PIC and me. Six of them brought pages to be critiqued. PIC spent a lot of time calculating how much time to allow for reading and feedback, giving me extra time to share my expertise. Somewhere around the sixth computation, I had to physically hold myself in the chair to keep from bolting.
Finally, the first pages were passed around, and we started reading. It wasn't bad. All description and not much action for six pages, but the guy knew his setting. Some good humor and character building. Just move the description into actiony scenes. And he was good about taking feedback. Cool.
Some of the others were really good, others needed a little more work. But there wasn't anything that made me cringe to read--except for the subject matter of one of the memoirs which I won't go into here. Two left me wanting to read the whole book and the other memoir might be my cup of tea with a little work. Except for not getting out until 9:00 (a half hour after the promised stop time), it wasn't bad.
I was thanked graciously and told I'd be invited back.
Yeah, about that......