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Open Reading Critiques Information

An Open Read & Critique (ORC) is an opportunity to read the opening portion of your short story or novel aloud to your peers. They will then critique your work Clarion-style, in round-table marathon sessions, focusing on your first 750 words. Our theme is “How to Hook a Reader.”

ORC Rules:

  1. Each author reads the first 750 words of their work. This is approximately three manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12 point Courier font). We will enforce a five (5) minute time limit for each reading.
  2. The material read must be appropriate for a PG-13 audience. No explicit sex, graphic violence, or excessive profanity.
  3. Each attendee has up to two (2) minutes to critique the work.
  4. Critiques must be directed to the art and craft of the work read, and not toward the content, the author personally, or critiques by others.
  5. Errors in grammar, usage, etc., should be written in notes, not given orally.
  6. Only one person may speak at a time. No interruptions, please!
  7. Authors may only respond to questions or comments after all critiques are finished.
  8. Authors may not explain their work in advance or defend it against critiques. If an explanation is necessary, the writing needs more work!
  9. Session leaders may revise these rules as necessary.

ORC Frequently Asked Questions

What is an ORC?

ORC stands for “Open Read & Critique.”

This is an opportunity to receive peer feedback on your manuscript before you send it to agents and editors. ORCs can help pinpoint problems with character, structure, and prose.

How does an ORC work?

In an Open Read & Critique (ORC), authors read aloud from their material to a group of peers in a relaxed, informal round table setting.

Attendees jot down notes as they listen. After the reading, they give feedback on the piece. We use a model similar to Clarion: a brief critique per attendee, and no questions asked of the author–nor any response from the author–until all critiques have been given. Written notes should be given to the author to keep.

If you sign up for an ORC session, please make sure you can stay for the full hour. If you read your work, you should also give critiques to the other authors present.

When and where are Open Read & Critique sessions held?

At OryCon 35, ORCs will run both Friday and Saturday afternoons. Readings are done on a first-come, first-read basis. A sign-up sheet will be posted outside of the designated ORC room each morning.

ORCs are based on “How to Hook a Reader.” Authors will read the first 750 words of their work to a round table group. Professional authors and editors may drop in.

Content should be rated PG-13 and contain no explicit sex, graphic violence, or excessive profanity.

What is a “Rogue” Workshop and is it the same as an ORC?

In some parts of the country, ORCs are referred to as “Rogue Workshops.” Rogue Workshops are generally held late at night but are run in the same manner as ORCs.

Is there an extra fee for participating in the ORCs?

Nope; just bring your manuscript. Come prepared to read a piece of your work, listen to other writers, and critique their work. Scratch paper and writing instruments will be provided.

Can I attend both ORC sessions?

Absolutely. In fact, we encourage it–writers working toward publication deserve all the critiques they can get!

Why are the time limits so short?

Our ORC rules are based on previous experience. The goal is to critique at least four pieces per hour, and we believe this structure allows every reader to get good feedback. For more details, see The ORC Equations.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Curtis Chen with questions or concerns, or for more information related to OryCon’s ORCs.

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