#IWSG Post for September.
One of the most effective tools for a writer, I believe, is being part of a great critique group. Every writer that I have read about or have come into contact with has had some form of a critique group. It may be a group of people or just one person, but having someone to read your work can really help your novel.
Here are some tips that I have found helpful to finding a great critique group.
1. A diverse group of writers: When I joined my first writing group all of us liked to read and watch pretty much the same genre of books and movies. We all loved fantasy and science fiction. One of us was amazing at drawing anime’ and she also loved writing manga on her website. But when it came down to what we wanted to write, we were all of over the place. I found that I was writing more emotionally-charged stories and scary ones. Another person was writing political pieces. The wide-range of genres helped as we read each other’s work, and at the same time, we became better readers and reviewers of multiple genres. I think we even found we had different strengths and weaknesses.
2. Assignments: I know what you are thinking. Why am I joining a group that does assignments? I am most likely not in school anymore and writing my WIP is already enough of an assignment. I love assignments, especially when you are first starting out and getting to know one another. Draw a genre out of a hat and write a 3 page story on that. Find a photo and write about the scene being depicted. Little writing exercises helped me write better. Little grammar reminders that month or articles online to read. Maybe someone has issues with a certain POV. Maybe someone needs to work on not being so comma happy. Being in a writing group can facilitate all kinds of learning and growth for you as a writer. This is especially helpful in recognizing the voice of the author and being able to recognize their style.
3. Consistency: This is a huge thing. Your meetings must be consistent for there to be any progress. Our group met consistently for years until we started moving away, getting married, and having babies. And then it was 2 of us for a while and then 4 of us. Life happens and we cannot plan for that but keeping the meeting date and time regardless if everyone can come is crucial. Those who are ready to get things published and need the extra help will get it and won’t have to wait for everyone to be present at the meeting. Some may find another group and leave.
4. Finding a group: Look to see if your state has any writing leagues and if there might be a chapter in your city. What if you cannot find anything in your area? Go online to FB or twitter or search blogs for information on writing groups in your area. What if what you find is less than desirable? Start your own group. And think on another level too. Critique groups are not just face-to-face and at someone’s house anymore. They can be an online FB group where you submit your stuff as well.
I know I said this was 4 steps but I need to throw in a bonus one just for fun.
BONUS: Have a fun name! Names are so much fun. One name we had once was the Metaphor’s. Then we changed it to the United Writers of Canada. That title has a story behind it. Whatever it is have fun and make it meaningful to the group or random and funny.
I think in order for the writing group to ultimately work for you there must a goal in mind. Why are you joining or creating a group? What is your end goal? What can you commit to right now? If you have no goal then years will go by without anything being accomplished. So, you may have a folder or notebook full of half-finished short stories but what then? What do you do with them?
Good luck in your quest for a group. I am about to start a new group the end of this month. I am so excited. New people. New comments and ideas and a renewed sense of purpose. 🙂