Novel-in-Progress is a critique group for fiction writers. It began meeting in the 1990s and has launched many published authors, both traditional and indie.
The group meets the second and fourth Sunday of each month at the Austin Recreation Center (near 15th and Lamar, behind the football stadium) from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Writers who are interested may simply show up for a meeting to see what it is like, or write Tosh McIntosh, the chairperson, to get additional information (and make sure the meeting is being held--around Easter and Christmas the ARC is sometimes closed). Guests can also get a copy of the work that will be discussed at the meeting in advance if they like.
We generally have 12-20 members and 1 or 2 guests at any given meeting. We critique 25 pages of one member's work, which is distributed 2 weeks in advance.
How our meetings work:
1. The ice breaker. Attendees answer a question about writing as a warm up. Guests generally will participate in this -- the questions are easy, such as "What is your current work in progress?" or "How do you personally incorporate critiques into your writing?"
2. Business. This very brief section of the meeting allows time to assign slots for future critique sessions as well as allows members to mention any publications or rejections they've encountered in the previous two weeks.
3. Critique of the work. Each member will give a 3-4 minute critique of the current work under review. This is not a discussion, but an individual commentary, and the author does not answer questions or respond during this part of the meeting.
4. We take a brief break at 2:30 during every meeting. If anyone needs to sneak in late or leave early, this is their opportunity.
5. Once all the individual critiques are done, we spend the last 20 minutes in an open roundtable discussion where the author can ask additional questions or get clarifications from the members.
Guests will not generally critique the work, but if they received the material in advance and would like to speak up, they will be given a turn. It's entirely up to you.
Guests become members by joining our Yahoo Group to begin receiving meeting notices. This information is given at the meeting itself. After attending 5 meetings and having submitted 5 pages of their work for informal critique (just as practice -- we do not reject members based on their writing), the guest becomes a full member and is eligible to be scheduled for a 25-page roundtable critique.
With 25 years under our belt, we feel very good about the group and what it can do to help writers improve their craft. We have quite a number of thriller and mystery writers, several sci-fi/fantasy writers, several historical and literary writers, and a couple middle grade and young adult writers.
In 2012, several of the core members of NIP decided to form Austin Indie Writers, where we also assist in production and promotion of each other's works as independent authors. While the two groups are separate, they generally consist of the same people.