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RWA OWL: Taste Test Critiquing

Critiquing is a valuable writing tool, but many authors are so afraid of the consequences that they never give it a go.

Most authors recognise the necessity of external input, whether it is from a critique partner, editor or beta readers, but lack confidence to share their work, because they don’t fully understand what it entails, can’t find the right partner, or don’t know how to get the best value from the feedback.

This workshop is a six-week guided tour by an experienced critiquer and sympathetic artist. It suits writers at all levels, assuming a basic understanding of writing craft and terms. 

Participants will:

• Develop techniques for giving and receiving feedback in a way that nurtures and adds value to both parties.

• Explore the best language to use.

• Develop a healthy attitude to constructive feedback.

• Recognise and reject destructive feedback.

• Improve critical thinking through analysis of various genres and author styles.

• Appreciate how critiquing will improve all aspects of their writing.

• Investigate how to find and select the right critique partner.

In order to gently build confidence, participants will share their work in a closely controlled and respectful environment, progressing from anonymous to personalised critiquing.

Course details 

This is a unique workshop experience and Sandy Vaile has a decade of knowledge from personal and professional critiquing to impart. Her experience includes:

• Starting the face-to-face Novelists’ Circle critiquing group in 2010, which has gone from strength to strength resulting in a second group and produced multiple published authors.

• A professional critiquing service for aspiring authors.

• Being an experienced writing competition judge.

Duration: six weeks


• Video lessons every Monday.

• Live chats every second Friday evening. 

• Time commitment: Approximately 18 hours (3 hours per week), depending on the time taken to do critiques.

• Critique assignments will be due by the end of each week, and assessed by the presenter to ensure respectful and value-adding feedback.

Please note: This course requires a firm commitment of time to ensure all participants receive fair feedback on their work.


• Must have at least 30,000 words of a story to work on, with a firm idea of the outcome. 

• Must be prepared to submit their work for critiquing by other participants, and to spend time critiquing the work of others. 

• On commencement of the workshop, will be required to provide a one-page rough synopsis that details the genre, main characters, their goals, motivations and key conflicts (including the final crisis).

What RWA members are saying about Sandy’s critiquing service.

“I knew there was something wrong with the opening, but had no clue where the novel should start. Thanks for your amazing insight and encouragement.”

 “This gives me a lot more confidence to go on through my manuscript to finish my self-edit. You’ve made a real difference to my writing.”

“I am very excited that I can see the issues, and understand where to focus my attention.”

What previous critique group members say about sharing their work.

“It would have taken me a lot longer to get published if I hadn’t joined the Novelists’ Circle.” Carla Caruso, published with Harper Collins, Penguin, Escape, Harlequin.

“In five months with the group, I learned more about writing than I did in five years of high school English classes.” Ben Tanny

“There is no better way to learn than by offering and receiving friendly criticism. In observing what I would like changed in the writing of others, I have come to see the same habits in my own offerings.” Steve Davey

Presenter's Bio

Sandy Vaile is a motorbike-riding daredevil who isn’t content with a story unless there’s a courageous heroine and a dead body. She’s an experienced presenter of online and face-to-face workshops for a variety of organisations across the globe, including Eyre Writers’ Week, The Clare Readers and Writer’s Festival, RWAmerica, Savvy Authors and SA Writers’ Centre. 

Sandy prides herself on providing a nurturing learning environment that enables participants to truly absorb the material.

When she’s not teaching, Sandy writes romantic-suspense for Simon & Schuster US, composes procedures for high-risk industrial processes, judges competitions for Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of America, runs the Fearless Novelist Facebook group, and mentors aspiring writers. 

Connect with Sandy on her website or social media.


Course Dates: 1st April to 10th May, 2019

Cost: RWA-Member – $82.50 (including GST) Non RWA-Member – $104.50 (including GST)
* Please note, there is a $0.50 Trybooking fee at checkout.

Venue: Online - RWA Moodle Platform
(Course attendees will be notified of access/login details via email from the OWL Registrar a few days prior to the start date of the course)

RWA OWL Courses
PO Box Q740
Queen Victoria Building
NSW 1230
Contact Details:
Tania Lee
OWL Registrar