The Landis Review-- One example of a writers’ critique group

   THE LANDIS REVIEW is a critique group, the “core members” of which have been meeting for almost twenty years. It is dedicated to constructive, non-judgmental feedback of writing—be it genre, non-fiction, literary. The desire is that each member have the most honest and sincerely intended constructive feedback possible. 

    The model of feedback and critiquing is based on the model set forth by the National Writers Association (formerly, the National Writers Club) out of Aurora, Colorado and introduced in l986 by writer Claudia McCormick (Author of Raven at Sunrise) in the Seattle area when she founded and became president the local group of the NWC.

     How we critique: once a month, we gather at the condo of Bruce Taylor and Roberta Gregory in the Central Area of Seattle around 4:30 on the third Tuesday of the month. We have a potluck dinner, which is also a time for sharing literary achievements, networking ideas or just “catching up.”  This is done in an atmosphere that is supportive and often times humorous (terrible puns encouraged) all with the intent of providing safety as well as support and a sense of camaraderie.

     Around 6:00, slips of paper with numbers 1 through 5, are offered, numbered side down. (The readings are in the order chosen with “one” going second after the person who went last the previous month gets to go first this time.)  Each member has brought as many copies of their work as are members in the group, and the writer going first hands out their manuscript.   Word count is between 2500 to 3000, so that everyone gets a chance to have their work critiqued before the session ends, usually around 9:30 pm.  The person whose work is being critiqued chooses one of the members to read their work back to them out loud so that they become an audience to their own writing.  Doing it this way quickly points out problems in the work that can be difficult to catch by simply reading the work silently and critiquing it or with the writer reading their own work out loud. 

     After the reading is completed, there are about ten minutes for members to write comments on the manuscript then, round robin, going clockwise, the members offer their comments in an “I feel” /”I think” context. (“I felt confused here. I think it’s because this sentence needs a comma or a period,” or “I think this needs clarification because it sounds like, etc.”)  During the critiquing, the writer listens in silence, perhaps taking notes until the feedback is completed.  The writer can then ask questions or seek clarification.

     This process eliminates the need to mail out manuscripts or the problem in remembering to bring them to the group. It takes far less time critiquing; through the reading aloud of the story, the problems often surface quickly.

    This technique seems to provide a great deal of safety and creates little defensiveness. And it has worked well for us for a long, long time.  And not only that, but it makes us, as writers, as artists, write and be—our best!

--Bruce Taylor

Who We Are:

The Landis Review is a dedicated group of writers who meet monthly to share our creativity, encourage each other, and critique other members' writing with love and respect in order to make it better. Although the makeup of our group of six members has changed over the years, we aim to maintain gender balance. A core of three of us have been meeting since 1991. Over the years, we have welcomed new members, celebrated personal and writerly growth and successes, and grieved over the death of Marie Landis.

---Linda Jean Shepherd

About The Landis Review

The Landis Review: Philosophical Statement:

The members of The Landis Review are writers dedicated to writing the best prose possible.  While we are not quite as obsessive as Gustave Flaubert, of whom it was said that: “He spent the morning putting the comma in and the afternoon taking it out,” we nonetheless take each other’s writing seriously in terms that, when a writer leaves with their critiques, if said writer utilizes them, they should have no trouble finding an excellent market for what they have written.  It is a matter of caring enough to be as precise, articulate and as clear as possible while also having a philosophical approach to writing and self-expression that closely mirrors the philosophy of art and creativity as is put forth by Julia Cameron in her marvelous book, The Artist’s Way: creativity is its own reward.  Love it. Do it.  And it will take you to a truth far too many do not understand:  creativity, when passionately pursued, may or may not take you to a life of wealth. But it is guaranteed to take you to a wealth of life—life fully lived, realized, actualized.  What greater wealth in life is there—than this?

--Bruce Taylor