F. A. Hyatt, veteran of online critiquing, has sent a wonderful post on how to set one up. Here is Part 1:
The impetus to start your very own online writing circle is usually Manifold. Regardless of the availability of Writing Clubs in your area, having a small group of concerned and participating writers available online is its own blessing. Personal pride, of course, does not enter into it, and the ability to participate with other writers at liberty 24/7 rather than once a month or whatever, is irrelevant–sure enough. Plus, Yahoo groups are free of charge to Yahoo members. The process of creating one is accessible from the Yahoo main page, under “Groups”. It is well documented, and simple, So I won’t deal with most of that here.
However, the fact of group management and the idea of creating one, differ – somewhat.
First off, there are some mechanics. Although Group sites provide a format and some tools, these are general, if not remedial. Your group will need a structure specific to the needs of active writers. Do not assume the members will organically create a framework as they participate, or you will end up with a welter of difficult to manage and incompatible structures and site litter; I.E., a mess. Under the left side “Files” menu item, set up an area to contain folders for your writers. This is done by creating a Members File folder in that area. Have your members each establish their own work folder within the folder you create there. (Yes, you can have folders inside folders, just like on your PC) Ask that they place (upload) their Works-In-Progress into the folder they create.
The member’s file folder directory should look like a list of names at that point, with no documents peppering the folder directory itself. Each writer can then add, delete or change the work they store in these areas, and collect critiques in them, as they see fit, without dropping files at liberty hither and yon.
In fact, it is a good idea to establish a directory area for every aspect your club engages in. A review area to collect member reviews, an area to post announcements of author releases notices, whatever activities your site will specialize in. I find using the list’s general post area for any of this a bad idea. Usually work gets completely un-formatted in attempting such use – extremely bad for critique. Instead, use the post area for member Yak, as was intended. Besides, after going to the effort of uploading a document, who wants to have it available to the club for only a few hours until it scrolls down into oblivion? Be sure members have full rights to manage their own folder areas. This will save your assigned moderators (and you) a lot of maintenance work. All these setups are accessible from the main screen “maintenance” prompts, that appears magically on the owners and moderators menus when visiting the site. If you are currently a member of a Yahoo Group, you likely will not see these items, as you are not the Owner or a Moderator.
Here is Mr. Hyatt’s open group:
Established – for Serious and Casual writers, since 2007
Plotters of Dreams
WRITING PROMPT: Write about a critique group in which one member argues against any suggested revision and another member tries to incorporate every suggested revision, even if they’re contradictory. Your mission is to be neither of those members.