#THESE Women, Women March, Trump Policies, marginalized, discrimination, femenism,
Book Favorites, Bookbinding
Books in General
Conferences and Workshops
Contests & Websites
dolphins, deep sea fishing, Mexico, Chef
Favorite Places, Indie Book Stores
flooding, Missouri, thunderstorm, small towns,
Frankenfoot, The Carlton, Writing Frenzy, Foot Surgery
ivy, ivy league, prune, edit, fiction, blog, wise old woman, neighbor
manuscript evaluation, editing
NaNo, writing, blog, writers
new novels, works in progress, kidney failure, transplants, Transplant tourism, china
New Year, Goals, Year in Review, Lists, Accomplishments
Once Upon a Time, Robert Carlyle, Rumplestiltskin, Mr. Gold, query letter, grant
Queries, Tracking, Synopsis, The Business End of Writing
Recommended reading list
Test Driving my E-Reader
Woodrell, Lesann Berry, Kostova, George, Bestsellers, Recommended Books,
Words of Wisdom
Writing Forums, Q & A
Writing Groups, Critique Groups, Improving Writing Skills
Page & Paragraph
Writing Groups, Critique Groups, Improving Writing Skills
Last night, our writer's group had a wonderful speaker. We were honored and humbled by eighty-six year old, Sir Elmer Dapron and his lovely wife, Pamela.
Elmer may honestly be the most interesting man in the world. In spite of his many honors and awards, he is a down to earth individual who is willing to share his writing expertise and advice with novices such as our group.
He encouraged all of us to look outside our areas of writing to find markets for our expertise as well as our complete ignorance of a subject. Who better to write about fly fishing that the person who has never tried it, but wants to learn? In this world, there are far more amateurs than experts.
For those of us who do have a skill, then use it. For example, I speak Spanish, but I learned late in life. As a result, I have learning techniques that I developed on my own.
A person who has worked his or her way through the grieving process may be just the person to write an article for a funeral home or hospice center. Do you have allergies? Then write about them. Do you have an obsession for mustard or salsa? There are markets for those articles as well as markets for those of us who constantly burn dinner. (Or in my case, create a homemade, two pound loaf of Spam, so awful that the cat wouldn't even eat it.)
Elmer and Pamela opened my eyes with their creative minds and infectious laughter. I'm hoping we will continue to meet and grow our friendship as there is soooooo much I can learn from them.
Thanks again, Elmer and Pam.
P.S. Kudos to Dana for finding them!
A few days ago, I blogged about finding a writer’s group.
Today, I want to give you a glimpse into the wonderful group that I found. It
was not the first or second group that I attended, more like the sixth or
seventh not counting conferences and workshops, and while each group had its
merits, this one was a fit.
Approximately seven of us meet on a weekly basis. Seven is a
good number in the event that someone can’t make the meeting there are still
enough people to make getting together worth it. With seven, we can read an
entire chapter of our work. Sometimes, a chapter is five pages, other times,
it’s twenty. We try to limit it to ten, but nothing is set in stone.
While we all dabble in different genres and story lengths,
we are for the most part, novelists. Keeping track of all the characters, their
actions, and multiple story lines is quite a feat, yet we are all able to do it
because we are vested in these, as yet unpublished, books.
Each person brings a different talent to the table. Whereas
one person is great for following the storyline, another is an expert on
dialogue and yet another, has a talent for exciting verbs. The insight and
intelligence of this group is staggering and I feel so lucky to have found
them. Sometimes, I am amazed at what is read at that small, kitchen table.
This doesn’t mean that I get or give glowing reviews each
time something is read. What I get and give is HONESTY. We say what does and
doesn’t work without being vicious. We offer suggestions or reading
recommendations. We offer tools for learning. We give compliments when they are
earned. We can cite a specific line, word or phrase that supports our thoughts
in either direction.
While all of us are still in the beginning stages of our
writing careers, we have enjoyed successes and setbacks. We have had manuscript
requests, both partial and full, from agents and publishers. We have had
contest winners. Articles have been written and published with reprint rights.
We have had requests to co-write with published authors. We’ve corresponded
with published authors that we can now count as our friends.
When the setbacks come; and they do. We have each other to
support and encourage each of us to take that next step and to continue
I hope every writer can find a group like mine. Keep
looking. There’s one out there for you, too.
If you truly want to be a writer, it’s important to find,
try out and eventually, join a writer’s group. I think the key part of this is
to ‘try out’ a group. Despite the designation of one size fits all, it really
doesn’t and this goes for writer’s groups just as much as it does for a T-shirt
or a pair of sweats. Each group will have its own personality, coming from a
combination of the genres being worked on, to the location of the meeting, to
the people who are doing the critiquing. Finding the right fit between yourself
and a group is imperative to improving your writing.
Some groups are more for socializing than for writing and
critiquing. If you bring a piece to your weekly or monthly group and receive
nothing more than “I really liked it” or “I wouldn’t change a thing”, it’s
likely that your writing skills will not improve. While these comments may be
flattering, what are you learning? If you enjoy the company of the people you
meet and in particular, the after meeting get-togethers at a coffee shop or
restaurant perhaps, then a social group is right for you.
Try to attend a few meetings before joining. Perhaps, the
group you’re attending is into memoirs only or childrens books. While both are
worthy groups, it might be difficult to gel with this group if you are writing
thrillers or romances. I’ve found that it’s not so much the genre as the
length. Short story writers do better with other short story writers just as
novelists tend to do better with other novelists independent of the genre.
A critique group critiques, but this doesn’t mean they rip
your writing to shreds for the fun of it. If someone seems to enjoy inflicting
pain or find their witty barbs more amusing than a genuine critique, this may
not be the group for you. If there is only one like this in a group, it’s
easier to ignore, however a group with two or more people like this should be
avoided. Writing is much like parenting. After a long period of growing your
story, the last thing you want is for someone to call your ‘baby’ ugly just
because they can.
As a writer, you will
get your feelings hurt. You will get
discouraged. You will develop a thick
skin and eventually, you will realize
that a critique is not a personal attack. A critique is a constructive bit of
advice that does not have to be used. That decision is up to you.
Try out several groups including online sites. It takes a
brave soul to put themselves and their work out into the world for the first
time. Be proud of yourself for taking that step. Learning is growing and
sometimes when we grow, we skin our knees or bump our heads, but we learn from
it and move on. Writing is the same.
Now, get out there and bump your head.