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The Society of Voluptuaries
throwing ourselves off that cliff again and again
The Society Voluptuaries Rules and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 
7th-Dec-2005 07:10 pm
pencil, voluptuaries
The Society of Voluptuaries Rules and FAQ
Last updated: October 27, 2007

Note: Members of the group are advised to bookmark this entry or add it to memories. It will be updated periodically here, rather than being reposted.

The following document describes what the Society of Voluptuaries is, and explains the rules and guidelines for members. Writers who are interested in joining should read this entire document carefully before applying for membership.

Topics:
1.0 What are the Voluptuaries? Why does the group exist?
     1.0.1 Why 'the Society of Voluptuaries?'
1.1 Who created the Society? How is it run?
1.2 What gets posted in this community? What is on and off-topic?
1.3 What about obscene/potentially objectionable/long content? Must I use an lj-cut?
1.4 Can the rules be modified? Can I discuss them with you and the other members?
2.0 What are the requirements for membership?
     2.0.1 How are the rules enforced? What if I miss a deadline?
     2.0.2 Can a member take a leave of absence if they know they won't meet the requirements?
2.1 What if I want to do more than the minimum?
2.2 How do I share my work? What counts as a work to be shared?
     2.2.1 What about fanfic?
2.3 How do I post a critique? What counts as a critique?
2.4 What is a critique exercise?
2.5 How do I let you know when I have submitted something for publication?
2.6 How do I make an announcement when something I write is published?
2.7 What other rules are there?
3.0 How do I apply for membership?
3.1 How is membership decided? Can it be revoked?
3.2 I'm new. How do I introduce myself to my fellow members?
3.3 How do I get in touch with the founders of the Society of Voluptuaries?

1.0 What are the Voluptuaries? Why does the group exist?
The Voluptuaries, also known as the Society of Voluptuaries, are a writers' group for hedonists who love to write, who, indeed, derive great pleasure from the experience of writing, but find that sometimes they need encouragement to do so. It has often been said that the way to "be a writer" is simply to sit yourself down and write, but in a world with a myriad of pleasures (not to mention less agreeable but sometimes necessary tasks to accomplish) it can often be hard to make time. It is also much harder to write in a vacuum -- most artists work better with regular exposure to other art and creators of art, and receiving constructive criticism helps any artist grow. However, it can be hard to find like-minded writers to commune with and this is doubly true for good critique.

The Society of Voluptuaries was created with this in mind. The aim of this online writers' group is to encourage its members to develop a regular habit of writing, critiquing, and optionally, submitting work for publication. We hope our simple requirements will encourage you to write much more often. We want to create fertile ground on which writers of various kinds can share and improve.

Membership in the Society is subject to the approval of its founders. The Voluptuaries members all agree to share at least one work for critique each month, critique at least one work each month, and participate in our monthly critique exercise. For more information on rules and membership see 2.0 and 3.0.
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1.0.1 Why 'the Society of Voluptuaries?'
The founders of this group discussed a number of possible names for the group, but finding the following Colette quote helped us make up our minds:

Voluptuaries, consumed by their senses, always begin by flinging themselves with a great display of frenzy into an abyss. But they survive, they come to the surface again. And they develop a routine of the abyss: ''It's four o clock. At five I have my abyss... ''


A voluptuary is someone who has devoted their life to pleasure, which both the founders think is an excellent philosophy. One of the aims of the group is to encourage a regular routine, to encourage our members to hurl themselves into the abyss of writing again and again.
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1.1 Who created the Society? How is it run?
This group was created, in December of 2005, by the founders Kit O'Connell (todfox) and C.M. Brown (eposia), based on a discussion about ways in which they could help the former to write more often. The two worked together to shape the initial policy of the group.

Both founders share the duties of reminding members of their group deadlines. C.M. Brown is in charge of tracking everything in her nifty Excel spreadsheet. Kit O'Connell rules all the members with his iron fist. "Obey the fist!"
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1.2 What gets posted in the community? What is on and off-topic?
Only members may post in this LiveJournal community, and most posts are friends-only. Only the following posts will be public:
  • A few, rare, administrative posts like this one.
  • General interest discussions of writing, or pointers to writers' resources
  • If a member has a work published somewhere or similar success with one of their creations, especially if it is one that was critiqued by the group, they should make a public announcement to the community. This is the only time members should make public posts. See question 2.7.


The following are considered "on-topic" for members to post here, friends-only:

  • Works they are sharing for critique; see section 2.2,
  • Critiques which are too long to fit in 2-3 LJ comments may be posted as a separate post; see 2.3
  • Lists of works they have submitted for publication, and where; see 2.5.
  • Discussion, ideas, rants, etc. about the process of writing, writer's block, encouraging yourself to write more, and related topics.
  • Introductions and major life updates which affect their status as a writer (a new job which gives more time to write, a new child which gives much less, etc.); see 3.2.
  • Discussion of the community itself, its rules, its membership, and how it is run; see 1.4.

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1.3 What about obscene/potentially objectionable/long content? Must I use an lj-cut?
We would ask that members posting very long works put them under an lj-cut out of deference to the friends-lists of others. We leave it up to member judgment what constitutes a long work, but any short story, novella, or chapter of an ongoing work should probably have an lj-cut. Generally speaking, you should place the whole work under the lj-cut. Multimedia shared works which contain large or multiple images should definitely be lj-cut.

The founders deliberated on the subject of enforcing lj-cuts around posts containing fetish, sexuality, disturbing imagery or other potential 'triggers' for people. However, we do not feel this restriction is appropriate for this group both because we don't wish to make members responsible for keeping track of the trigger-buttons of others when trying to creatively express themselves, and we don't want to force writers to stifle the impact of their work. For example, if a writer writes a work in the horror genre, it seems unfair to ask them to inventory all the potentially disturbing things that may occur, thus lessening the impact they have on new readers. We feel that example is just as applicable to works in most other genres as well.

When using an lj-cut, a writer is free to place a brief synopsis of their work before the lj-cut but is under no obligation to do so. You should probably give some basic idea of at least the type of work under the cut, however.
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1.4 Can the rules be modified? Can I discuss them with you and the other members?
The group aims to function as a community, so decisions will be made by group consensus when possible. Please feel free to contact the maintainers; members are encouraged to open up discussion within a friends-only post to the community. It should be noted, however, that the original aim of creating a group which will encourage Kit to write more still stands, and ideas seen as truly detrimental to this or the operation of the community will be overruled.
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2.0 What are the requirements for membership?
In order to encourage the habit of regular writing, we have strict requirements of our members. In order to be a Voluptuary, you absolutely must be willing to:


  • submit one work to be critiqued by the other members per calendar month; see 2.2 for more.
  • You must also must critique at least one other work during that same period (see 2.3).
  • You must participate in our "critique exercises," posted to the group once a month (see 2.4)


Members should be able to graciously give and receive criticism. You should not submit anything you do not wish to see critiqued, but at the same time you should not be needlessly harsh to another writer.

In addition, to encourage the most functional community we have a cap on the number of members. If we are full, you may apply to be put on our waiting list.
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2.0.1 How are the rules enforced? What if I miss a deadline?
Every member is expected to fulfill their obligations once per calendar month. About a week before the end of each month, one of the Society's founders will post a reminder to the community about the upcoming deadline.

During a member's first month of membership, failure to fulfill any of the bare minimum requirements for membership -- posting an introduction, critiquing the critique exercise and at least one other work, and sharing at least one work for critique -- will result in that member's removal from the group without further warning. If you do not believe you can participate fully during your first month of membership, do not apply for membership until circumstances change and you are more committed to writing.

If an established member fails to meet their requirements for a given month, and has not notified us to inform of us of mitigating circumstances, they will be sent a reminder one week after the end of the month. At this point, the member has another two weeks to catch up on their requirements. If they have not done so by the end of that period, they will be removed from the Society.

Members who repeatedly miss their deadlines will be asked to leave the group.
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2.0.2 Can a member take a leave of absence if they know they won't meet the requirements?
Yes. If you know you won't be able to meet the requirements of Society membership for a month or more, we ask that you contact Kit O'Connell or C.M. Brown to request a leave of absence.

A leave of absence can last for up to three months, with the option to extend it for an additional 3 months. During a leave of absence, you will remain a member of the community but will not be required to participate in any way. After 6 months of absence from the group, you will be asked to either withdraw from membership in the group or begin participating again.

A member may request a leave of absence at any time, and can return to being active at any time once their leave of absence has begun.
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2.1 What if I want to do more than the minimum?
That's totally up to you. Our membership requirements are meant to reflect the bare minimum required to be a Voluptuary, but we encourage members to participate as much as they can.

We previously limited group submissions to 5 shared works per month, but we have lifted that restriction -- in order to increase the traffic in the group, please post as much of your work as you'd like us to critique. Until further notice there is no monthly posting limit.

We strongly encourage you to critique more than 1 work per month -- you can critique or comment on everything if you want, and we'd love it if you did too!

Members who are submitting work to publishers are also encouraged to submit more than 1 work per month, but please limit yourself to one post on this topic per week.
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2.2 How do I share my work? What counts as a work to be shared?
In order to share your work, you should make a new, friends-only post to the group. The subject should be "For Critique:" followed by the title, if any, of your work. Place the work itself in the message body; also let us know if there are any areas in particular you'd like to draw attention to for critique. Let us know any other background we should have; if this is a work in progress or revision of a work you have posted to the group before, it might be best to let us know and provide a link those drafts.

You must tag your critique both with the tags 'for critique' and your writing name (for example, 'kit o'connell' rather than 'todfox'). You may also tag it with the type of work ('short story', 'essay', etc.) and anything else you feel is appropriate such as the genre of the work or major themes. The community is set up so that anyone can add new tags.

If you wish to share a work again at a later date after making improvements, you should do so as a new post rather than revising the old post. Include a link to the previous version.

We are open to a wide variety of writing formats and genres. Poetry, fiction, essays and articles, songs, plays, comics and sequential art are among the possible types of work that can be shared, and any topic or genre is welcome. Excerpts of longer on-going works are also welcome, including character sketches, dialogues, chapters of novels, and so on. The most important thing is that you put effort into it, take your writing seriously (even if the subject matter is funny!), and wish to receive constructive criticism on it.

Sometimes a longer work can require a lot of research before you can begin writing it. We considered allowing members to share their bibliography and research notes with the group. However, the founders felt it would be best if our members still contribute character sketches or other items based on this research, or from other unrelated projects, so as not to allow writers to become stuck in this phase or fall out of the writing habit.
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2.2.1 What about fanfic?
After discussion, the founders have decided that fanfiction is allowed as long as the writer takes it seriously (i.e. puts as much effort and thought into the work as non-fanfic writers would).
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2.3 How do I post a critique? What counts as a critique?
In order to critique someones work, you should normally just reply to their post in the community. This will accommodate most critiques up to fairly detailed responses. However, LiveJournal does have limits on comment length, so if you find that your post will require more than 2-3 comments you may choose to do so in a separate post following the below procedure; generally this should only be done for line-by-line critiques of longer works.

For critiques in separate posts, make a friends-only entry in the community. The subject should be "Critique:" followed by the name of the work you are critiquing and its author. You must include a link to the original post. Other than a link and a short description of the contents, you must put the entire critique in an lj-cut. You must also reply to the original post with a comment containing a link to the separate critique post. Tags for your critique should include "critique" as well as your name and the name of the original author.

Although detailed critiques are always welcome, a short one can be valuable too. We do not feel that simply saying 'This is bad' or 'This is good' is enough. You should always give a reason, such as 'I like this because you used vivid imagery.' The more detail you can give, the more useful your words will be to the writer. If there are things you don't like about a work be sure to mention the things you do like too; you should always try to find something good about a work to praise if you are also criticizing. For example, 'The plot just did not gain my interest, but I liked how descriptive the passages about the characters are.'

Critiquing old posts: All works submitted to the community are open to critique indefinitely. If you critique a work posted more than a month ago, please contact C. M. Brown (eposia) via email (society@voluptuary.org) or instant messenger to let her know. This will ensure you get credit for the critique in her activity log. This is only necessary if the piece was not written by C.M. Brown or Kit O'Connell.
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2.4 What is a critique exercise?
Once per month, the founders will select a piece of writing by one of the members to be used in a Critique Exercise. All members of the group except the original author are required to critique this work. For these exercises, we have loosened the requirements of a critique somewhat -- while we hope each member will find something unique to say, it is OK to simply state your agreement with another critique if you can't find anything else to say.

If a member would like their work to be used in an upcoming Critique Exercise, they should contact one of the founders.
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2.5 How do I let you know when I have submitted something for publication?
Make a new, friends-only post to the community. The subject should be 'Submission:' followed by the title of the work, if any. In the body of the post, let us know where you submitted the work and any pertinent info on that publisher -- such as their homepage, expected turnaround time, etc. If you submitted the work for critique, include a link to the last version you posted. A "publication" could also be an online zine, a theater you want to perform your play, and so on. If you've received any rejections, you can also let us know in these posts. Feel free to make a post for every submission or rejection you have to report.

You should tag these as 'submissions' and with your writing name. Include any other tags that seem appropriate.

Feel free to make this kind of post even if you have not signed up to be reminded to submit one work per month.
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2.6 How do I make an announcement when something I write is published?
Make a new, public post to the community. The subject should be "Announcement:" followed by a descriptive subject. In the message body, brag and tell us what you've accomplished. Good work, you've done the Society proud!

Tag these posts as 'announcements' and with your 'writing name' along with any other appropriate tags.

Please spread the word about our writers' group by mentioning your membership in any biographical information you include when you are published.
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2.7 What other rules are there?
This writers' group is private. All the works shared are copyright the original writer and you should not share or in any other way distribute their works without their permission. You also should not add friends-only posts to this community as public memories. Do not print out or save others' works to disk. The writers are taking the risk that LiveJournal might be compromised, but have not agreed to the additional risk of whomever might see the unpublished work in your possession or on your computer. Remember that appearing online can count as publication in some cases and reduce the monetary value of a writer's efforts.

Discussion between a writer and a critic can be helpful in clarifying the criticism and improving the work, but remember to respect each other's right to a difference of opinion.
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3.0 How do I apply for membership?
Please send an email to applications@voluptuary.org with the subject "Voluptuary Application:" followed by your name. You should include your writing name (your real name or the name you would try to publish under), your LiveJournal, the email address you want us to use, and a copy of or a link to some of your best work for us to see. Tell us why you want to join, and a bit about yourself. We will make a decision and get back to you soon. Even if the group is full, we may be able to place you on a waiting list for when a current member drops out.

After sending the introductory email, you should apply for membership in the community using the link on the profile page. Your membership request will be approved or declined after we review your email.
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3.1 How is membership decided? Can it be revoked?
Basically, your membership application will be approved if we like your work and think you will be a good addition to the Society. If you know one of the founders or a member who can vouch for you, we are also more likely to approve you.

A member can ask to leave the Society at any time for any reason. Members who withdraw rather than simply abandoning their obligations to the group are more likely to be readmitted at a later date.

Membership can be revoked by the founders at any time. If you are not following the requirements of Society membership, as outlined in 2.0 and 2.0.1 you will lose your membership. Additionally, we reserve the right to remove membership if we feel a member is not working out for some reason, but will make every effort to straighten things out with them first.

When a member leaves the group due to voluntary withdrawal or revocation of membership, all their posts for critique will be deleted by the founders in order to protect the privacy of the member's work.
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3.2 I'm new. How do I introduce myself to my fellow members?
All new members must post introductions within 7 days of being accepted into the group. Failure to do so may result in removal from the group. You must post an introduction before you participate in any other way, including critiquing and sharing works to be critiqued.

Make a new friends-only post to the community. The subject should be "Introduction:" followed by your writing name. Tell us about yourself -- your interests, background, types of things you write, struggles and successes in writing, and anything else you'd like us to know about you.

These posts should be tagged 'introduction' and with your 'writing name' along with any other appropriate tags.
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3.3 How do I get in touch with the founders of the Society of Voluptuaries?
Kit O'Connell and C.M. Brown can be reached at society@voluptuary.org. Please include 'Attention Voluptuaries' in the subject to make sure we see it.
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