The Writing GroupPosted: August 11, 2016
Once a week I meet with a great group of people to discuss, read and critique our work.
It works like this. We meet at a friendly location (last night it was at a Barnes and Nobles bookstore) and we circle around a table in a quiet corner. There is a moderator who is in charge but not invasive. She holds the reading list, calls time, and generally keeps us on track. A timekeeper is appointed.
After we all have our drinks from the store’s interior Starbucks, we settle in. Moderator starts calling name from the reading list. The first one on the list with a poem, short story, or even a chapter from their in progress book identifies themselves. 10 to 15 copies of a no more than 10 page script is handed out to the other members and then SOMEONE ELSE volunteers to read the thing. After it is read aloud, we go around the circle and EVERYONE gets 10 minutes to give their critiques.
Now, this critique should not be cruel, a downer or malicious. It is meant to be helpful. It shouldn’t be on grammar or sentence structure. I should be about plot, characters, scenery and feel of the piece. You should start with good and end with good.
The first time this happens to YOUR work its teeth chattering and bone aching. It hurts a little and scares you a LOT. So why put yourself out there?
I’m working on a novel. Its long, sometimes tedious and often frustrating. I know when its not right but sometimes I cannot put my finger on why. These 15 people stepped right in the middle of it and told me the reasons. I’m going to leave the notes they wrote on my pages for a day or two, then look at them and remember the comments. But now, I think I know what to do and where I failed. They all liked the story but I confused them with too much stuff and too many words. What I wanted to be descriptive was miring the story down.
These people are my pals. They aren’t my sister, my best friend or my fan. They are expecting me to succeed but if I don’t they will tell me, starkly and without pity, why I don’t. They give me a gift of truth.
So if you’re a writer seek out your peers. Ask at a bookstore or a library, look on the Internet or even in a newspaper. Find a friendly group of like minded people.Some will have more experience than you. Some will just be starting out. Some will have a book already in print. But they have this in common, they will tell you the truth…and the truth will set you free to learn your craft and improve your work.
Thanks y’all. You were great.
Dedicated to the San Antonio Writer’s Guild.
Oh and here’s advertisement for my existing novel. It’s not SciFi or even fantasy. But a book I believed needed to be written. The sequel is about 1/2 done and hopefully will be out by next summer.