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For many years, I was a member of a wonderful writing group where members met weekly, bringing multiple copies of their latest chapters for peer review. We would sit in a coffee shop and take turns with all of the members reading and red-pen critiquing one person's writing. At the end of each reading/critiquing time, we would discuss the piece so that everyone present could benefit from everyone's input. The marked up paper pages would then be returned to the author and the next author's turn would begin.

This was a wonderful system, but as the group grew bigger we had to split off into multiple critique circles, each meeting at different times throughout the week, with a fixed membership of 5-8 authors each. Eventually we had dozens of weekly meetings, supporting hundreds of active writers, each writing 5 or more new pages per week and printing 5-8 copies of those pages to bring to their circle's meeting.

We were helping a lot of amateur writers, but we were consuming a lot of paper in the process. I still have trunks full of cherished red-marked pages of my writing which I can't quite get myself to throw away. As I have moved away from that group and am considering starting a similar group where I now live, I am wondering that there must be a better way to do this.

So here is my question? Is there any ereader or tablet/laptop software which allows reading, editing and critique-markup of private documents shared among a small group of people?"

...and if there is more than one such solution, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

  • As usual, this sites willingness to accept down votes without explanatory comments confounds me. How am I supposed to know what the voter found objectionable without any information? – Henry Taylor Mar 30 at 12:58
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    I find this question perfectly on topic and, on top of it, very relevant. Unfortunately, I can't really help you out with an answer. – SC for reinstatement of Monica Mar 30 at 13:42
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Google Docs (via Google Drive)

That is where I do all my writing for ease of saving and access on other devices. It works basically the same as Microsoft Word minus some of the more intricate features, and everything is saved and backed up in the cloud to Google Drive. Any document can be shared with others for viewing via email, but you can use the Google Drive controls to restrict what others may do. You can set it to allow the others to only view the document, to make change suggestions and leave comments, or even edit completely if you please.

It separates different reader's suggestions by color, so you can see how different people viewed different sections more easily. Also, once you make any changes everyone else will be able to view those changes immediately without having to resend, or more importantly reprint. You can also revoke access to the document at any time as well as restrict it so that others are not able to download and save a copy themselves if you don't want them to.

Only downsides I can personally think of is that you have to continuously have an internet connection, and I am personally unsure of whether or not readers can see eachother's comments and suggestions, but that should be easily tested.

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  • I've been doing a bit of proofreading in Google Docs, and I can indeed see the other readers' comments. – AmaiKotori Mar 30 at 21:45
  • +1 and Check-marked. Excellent suggestion. I will get an account on google-docs and give it a try. If it works, I might even be able to start up the writing group while we are all stuck home-bound. Thanks! – Henry Taylor Mar 30 at 23:09

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