Here’s a thought…what would happen to your writing if you could have people read it, rip it apart, and make valuable suggestions for improvement? What if you could do all this right from home? It’s the age of the Internet…why not?
That’s what I’m proposing. A Writing Group for brave individuals looking for a means to improve their writing based on the suggestions of others. A writing commentary. A coffee shop/book store/corner bar environment for those who haven’t yet found the right group of people to help advance their storytelling skills.
Here are the guidelines:
1. All comments must be helpful. “That’s really a good story!” doesn’t help a writer at all. What about the story speaks positively to you? What areas seem weak – either in description, plot pacing or grammar? Can you sympathize with the main character? Is the story worth telling? Is the story worth reading? After reading the story, what remains with you? Does it remind you of any other story? (could be a red flag.)
2. Any suggestions in the comments should be written as though you are face-to-face with this person. Remember that everyone will see your comments. No crude or openly offensive remarks are welcome, and will immediately ban that commenter from further participation. It costs nothing to be nice, especially when giving suggestions for improvement.
3. Before submitting a piece to be reviewed, comment on at least two other pieces. Obviously I will need a few people to volunteer their work so we can get this rolling, but hopefully no one will take their coveted advise and run, but return to give the same helpful opportunities to others.
4. Keep each piece for critique less than 2,500 words. This will be a challenge for many – including me. Sticking to a specific word count encourages (ok, forces) the writer to maximize the punch in each word. Try it! You might like it!
5. Come to the table with thick skin. Every writer writes from the heart. (If you’re not, then start over.) Because a writer is so close to the story, it’s difficult to see what is lacking, where improvements are necessary, what’s just not right. Learning this is not easy and a good critique can be painful. So is micro-abrasion and going to the dentist. It’s all an effort to become more than we are now. So suit up, gear up and send a piece of writing in!
What types of stories can be critiqued here? We will stick to stories for children and young adults. If you are writing about vampires, werewolves or elicit teen love, this is not the place for you. Every story carries the weight of influence. What influence do you want your tale to have? Are you inspiring the young to seek out forbidden love or are you spinning a tale of adventure in which the characters must have virtuous qualities in order to survive? In this place, we prefer the latter.
What benefits will you gain? Hopefully a sense of community and a feel for how your writing appeals, or doesn’t appeal, to others. Ideally, this could be a safe place to try out a new idea or see if a current writing project is ready. If you are writing a novel, you obviously won’t be able to ask for a critique for the entire book, but this will give you a chance to try out chapter one or tweek a part of the story to be a stand-alone story, which can then be submitted for magazines or contests.
What does it cost? Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. Just a little time to share what your opinions on other’s writing. It’s a give-and-take relationship.
What if you disagree with the suggestions? Then disagree and move on. I don’t think men should wear capri pants, but that doesn’t stop them (sadly!).
If you are interested in participating in the Writer’s Critique Group, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org I will put you on the schedule and post one story every Monday, which will remain open to comments as long as the Internet survives.
- What do you want from a writing group? (steelcitywriters.wordpress.com)
- Writing Groups (indiewritingblog.com)
- Writing Groups (torimcrae.wordpress.com)
- 6 Ways to Stomp Out Obstacles to Writing that Novel (jessicaschaubbooks.com)