Friday, May 1, 2009

Writing Groups

I spent time last night with one of my writing critique groups.

Walking in, I felt confident about my chapter (we worked on first chapters). I had edited it several times before and didn't think there was too much more that could be improved on. How very arrogant of me.

We each read our chapters out loud- something I highly recommend doing. That alone helped me catch a lot of crazy stuff that didn't jump off the screen when I'd been editing.

I wrote my character's name three times in three sentences? Did she somehow forget her own name?

I used our instead of their...I instead of she (I originally wrote my ms in first person). How did I miss that?

One of the reasons I love meeting with these women is how they shine a spotlight on my blindspots. Beautifully written (well, in my own opinion) paragraphs needed to be cut because they slowed down the story. Dialogue needed to be inserted instead of narration. A crucial scene of the chapter needed to be expanded with more interaction.

My one year old daughter decided to add her feedback to this page.

But the biggest reason I enjoy my writing critique group is I walk away (often- like last night- much later than planned) excited to get back to writing and editing. To creating and destroying my manuscript.

And that is really the best thing a writing group can do for you.

What has participating in critique groups done for you? Any best practices you'd be willing to share?


Lady Glamis said...

Critique groups are essential to me. Basically, my "critique groups" are my beta readers. Oftentimes I end up in pain from feedback, until I can distance myself from it. But it is what helps me grow every time - hearing and seeing those blind spots you talked about.

Scott, whom I work with on The Literary Lab, shared some great advice about critiquing in his last post here.

I LOVE that picture, hehe. How cute. :)

beth said...

I have (finally) gotten to the point where as I am writing, I can actually start to see my own mistakes. I have been notoriously bad about spotting flaws in my writing (I can fix them...just can't SEE them), but now if I start slipping into an overused word or semicolon repetition, I can picture what my writing group friends would say and stop it before I write it!

Jody Hedlund said...

You sound like you have a great critique group, especially one that you can meet with in person! How fun!

I tried an online critique group and it was just too time consuming for me. Now I have one critique partner and a professional critiquer that I pay to edit my MS. We definitely need that objective person to give us feedback.

Tess said...

I have an online critique group and it is a blessing. I don't have a face to face critique partner...unsure if I would become too 'friendly' to feel comfortable taking and giving that super honest feedback. A little distance helps in that regard (at least for me).

Corey Schwartz said...

Interesting! We only read aloud PBs in our group. Sounds like you have a fabulous group!

Jennifer Shirk said...

I love my writing group, too.

I like the great feedback, but sometimes it's nice to share "writing things" with them that other people outside the writing community would not appreciate in the same way. :)

Stephanie said...

I LOVE my writer's group! I have met some of the most wonderfully talented people on the planet and they know how to give very helpful advice.

Stephanie said...

And yes, reading out loud always helps me. Sometimes I write too much backstory and it usually isn't until I read it out loud that I realize how long and boring and dragged out it is!!