Friday, June 15, 2007

Writer's Group Not for Faint of Heart...

...or for the lazy for that matter. I joined an online writers critique group year or two ago. (in the Forward Motion Writers website) It was really, really helpful. But one thing I constantly struggled with was keeping up with the critiques of my fellow group members. So at one point about 6 months ago, I decided to take a sabbatical from the group, so that I could focus on finishing up the first draft. Well as you know the first draft is done, so now it is time to get back in the group. As I contemplate this it got me thinking about the pros and cons of the structure of my crit group.

The pros are fairly obvious. I've got three or four people reading my work, giving me feedback, really trying to make my writing better.

The cons are a little harder to nail down. One that may not be a con, but more of a shortcoming of the structure, is no one ever has a chance to see the big picture. We post a single chapter at a time, and critique a single chapter at a time. So it is as if you are reading a novel with blinders on. Especially for the memory impaired. I can read a chapter, and then come back two weeks later and read the next chapter and have no idea who any of the characters are. It doesn't help matters that all the books are fantasy novels, so already they do tend to mush together a bit.

Another con is we are all just amateurs. Some a little more skilled than others (I'd place myself pretty low on the grammar scale), so any advice we get must be carefully considered. Not that it shouldn't be even if we were all published authors, but it does make me yearn for more of a mentoring type situation. (Stephen R. Donaldson is from my hometown, maybe I should look him up.)

I also long for a group of writers that I can physically meet. Read each other excerpts. Discuss with each other our thoughts. You just can't get that online.

All this said, I still think it is worthwhile. So I'm off to inform the group I'm ready to come back.

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