Open Read & Critique

Want fast feedback on your writing? Try an Open Read & Critique (ORC) session! Read the opening portion of your short story or novel aloud and receive instant, Clarion-style critiques. Our theme is "How to Hook a Reader." You must sign up ahead of time to participate.


    • Each writer reads the first 750 words of their work. This is approximately three(3) manuscript pages (double-spaced, 12 point Courier font, 1-inch margins). We will enforce a five(5) minute time limit for each reading.
    • The material read must be appropriate for a PG-13 audience. No explicit sex, graphic violence, or excessive profanity.
    • Each attendee will have up to two(2) minutes to critique the work.
    • 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.
    • Errors in grammar, usage, etc., should be written in notes, not given verbally.
    • Only one person may speak at a time. No interruptions, please!
    • Authors may only respond to questions or comments after all critiques are finished.

Authors may not explain their work in advance or defend it against critiques. If an explanation is necessary, the writing needs more work!

Session leaders may revise these rules as necessary.


Q: 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 or editors.
Q: How does an ORC work?
In an Open Read & Critique (ORC), authors read aloud from their material to a group of peers in an informal, round-table setting.
We use a model similar to Clarion: one brief critique per attendee, and no questions asked of the author--nor any response from the author--until all critiques have been given.
Attendees are encouraged to jot down notes as they listen. After the reading, they give verbal feedback on the piece. Any 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, also give critiques to the other writers present.
See the "ORC RULES" above for complete details.
Q: When and where are Open Read & Critique sessions held?
At OryCon 37, ORCs will happen on Friday and Saturday afternoons. Readings are done on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign-up sheets will be posted outside the designated ORC room.
Q: Is there an extra fee for participating in the ORCs?
Nope! Just bring your manuscript and come prepared to read your work aloud, listen to other writers, and critique their work. Scratch paper and writing instruments will be provided.
Q: Can I attend more than one ORC sessions?
Feel free. However, we encourage you to read a different piece for each ORC.
Q: 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 e-mail orc@orycon.orgwith questions or concerns, or for more information related to OryCon's ORCs.