Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Fabulosities--The Blessed Writers' Group

I love my writers' groups. I belong to two: one I joined when my oldest son was a baby--so that must be about 13 years ago now. We meet once a month, read our work aloud, and comment on the fly. The group itself has been going for over 25 years, so is well-established and full of writers who are both critical yet kind.

The second group I joined perhaps three years ago now. It is kidlit only (the first group is everything under the sun). We meet twice a month, read the pages beforehand, and critique in a circle. Several of the members are grads of the MFA program at Vermont College, so they really know their stuff (and seem to have read everything under the sun.)

Both groups have helped me immeasurably. I have no problem bringing first draft stuff to them, and they don't hesitate to tell me if I'm wandering off track.

The historical novelist, Mary Balogh, has a slightly different take, however:

"My advice is to keep strictly alone until the work is complete to your own satisfaction. This is a work of art, and it comes from your talent, experience, value system, and very being. It has your unique and distinctive voice. You ought to be very wary of allowing anything in that might contaminate or upset the balance of those precious facts. Get advice--even follow it if you choose!--after the work is finished, but not before."
Do you belong to a writers' group (or two!)? Do you show your first draft work, or only work that is finished?


  1. Hi Michael - Yes, I belong to a group of four, kid lit (we're all SCBWI members). Ours operates like yours, reading beforehand and discussing in the meeting (every two weeks). I value their opinions and believe I'm a better writer for my association with these ladies. I understand the quote you offered, and that might work for some; but I've come to rely on the solid comments my writer friends offer. It is a lot easier to fix a hole in the plot if it is pointed out up front. And also, the opinions expressed are just that--opinions--and so I don't make changes just because of a comment made. But I do often see things in a different light and opt to modify based on their opinions.

    Whew. That was long. All to say, yes, I belong to a group! LOL I'm also new to RWA, and hope to find a group through that organization as well.

  2. No groups for me. I have a few beta readers who I send finished work to. I'm not a very well-socialized writer, though. I know a lot of writers who swear by their groups.

  3. I'd not begun to write at all if my writers' group was not there for me. They share and point out various things.

  4. I agree with Ms. Balogh and I like to go the lone route and find my own voice.

    Unfortunately my 'voice' sounds like Lucille Ball on helium so maybe I do need to seek out a group.

    Not easy around here where there are almost no English speakers.

  5. I'd love to belong to a group but have no idea how to go about finding one! I wouldn't read them anything till I was finished creating it though.


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