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The Backward OX
05-07-2010, 03:13 PM
Do you belong to one? Do people in your group discuss their stories in detail, specifically looking for ways to expand them, fill them out? From your own writing experience or from what you’re told by other writers, do such discussions help any individual writer in this particular way?

Maryn
05-07-2010, 04:20 PM
I co-founded a writing group in 1992. We still meet every two weeks. We are all published now, some more than others.

Our main function is critique of work in a particular genre, but when the 'business' part of a gathering has concluded, we often stay to brainstorm someone's idea, which might well fill it out. Some people are really good at this, approaching the concept from unexpected angles, coming up with twists, unexpected consequences, and such. Others suggest change in character to make the MC's flaw, which seemed normal and realistic, play into the plot or spawn a subplot.

I've taken the member I consider the best brainstormer out to lunch to pick her mind for work outside the group's genre. She was flattered--and hungry. I used some of her ideas in the novel that betas are, for the most part, liking.

Maryn, member of 13th Precinct

dirtsider
05-07-2010, 04:34 PM
I'm a 'leader' for my local writing group. That's the glorified way of saying that I'm the one who makes sure the door to the conference room at the library where we meet gets opened on time and that we're on the library's schedule to begin with.

We're pretty small and informal but that's ok. This allows us to really go over whatever section our members bring. But yeah, it's as much brainstorming as critiqueing the work for flaws.

veinglory
05-07-2010, 06:26 PM
Do you belong to one?

I started one via Meetup.com over 2 years ago, we meet weekly.

Do people in your group discuss their stories in detail, specifically looking for ways to expand them, fill them out?

We look at the works in detail, and provide whatever type of feedback the author requests and/or we think the work needs.

From your own writing experience or from what you’re told by other writers, do such discussions help any individual writer in this particular way?

The current members of the group keep coming back. It seems to be working for them. Some visit the group and then move onto other groups with other systems. Writers groups are very idiosyncratic.

Ineti
05-07-2010, 06:38 PM
My writing group has met twice a month for just over 5 years now. We provide feedback on each other's stories on occasion and act as cheerleaders for each other as we submit stuff. It's worked out well for us--we're all friends and still meeting regularly, so something's working. :)

SJ Gordon
05-07-2010, 10:32 PM
I've been meeting with a couple writing friends on a nearly weekly basis for several years now. Initially, it was for fun but we've all grown much more serious about our work since then. One of us is sending out queries (and just recently, a partial) on her first novel, I'm editing my first manuscript, and the third member is working on her first fantasy adventure.

We do go over our work in detail. Lots of detail. We also discuss any worthwhile reading we've done, conferences and talks we've attended, etc. I really do think it helps us all. Even when we don't agree on any aspect of our work (and we're all big defenders of our own writing), the process of defending our positions helps us clarify what we're doing and why. If nothing else, meeting regularly holds us accountable and provides some support for the inevitable frustrations. I've always felt fortunate to have my group to talk to.

Snowstorm
05-07-2010, 10:43 PM
Our tiny burg of "about 30" has a writers group of 4 regulars and a couple that jumps in when they're here. We critique all types of work. We crit the actual work and recommend improvements. Then we really wind up and discuss different ways of looking at the piece and where the piece could go.

We all agree that this group has made a big positive difference is ourselves as writers ... and as friends.

waylander
05-08-2010, 01:45 AM
I belong to an excellent face-to-face crit group in London which specialises in SF/F/H.
We meet monthly with stories pre-circulated. There are several other AW folk in the group and we now have a good number of agented writers.
It is totally awesome and has vastly improved my writing.

Libbie
05-08-2010, 07:00 AM
Do you belong to one? Do people in your group discuss their stories in detail, specifically looking for ways to expand them, fill them out? From your own writing experience or from what you’re told by other writers, do such discussions help any individual writer in this particular way?

I belong to one that meets weekly.

We are a pretty close group -- I've hit it off well with all of the regular members. There are occasional members who show up every few weeks, too, and while I don't know them as well, they are all valuable contributors and I trust their opinions. I'm the newest member, and the more established members have told me the horror stories of when the group was first starting out, all the weirdos who joined up and eventually lost interest. It sounds like a writers' group can take a while to mature into a useful critique workshop.

Most of the other members write poetry or essays. I'm the only one who brings prose regularly, though being around so many good poets has inspired me to get into reading and writing poetry, so that's a bonus right there -- a good group will be a safe place for you try out totally new stuff.

We do indeed discuss our weekly pieces in depth. We each read ours aloud while the others follow along silently on their own hard copy, then after reading the writer discusses the piece with each other member of the group. Critiques and suggestions are given, questions are asked about what the writer intended to convey, etc. I've found it very useful, and many of the suggestions they've given me have made my stories and my writing overall much stronger.

I'm very happy to be involved with my group. It's the thing I look forward to most during the week. If you can find a good one with serious, hard-working writers who know the value of criticism, definitely participate! Be aware, though, that you might have to try a few before you find one that works for you. A lot of them, from what I hear, are just attention-seeking wankfests.

The Backward OX
05-08-2010, 10:54 AM
I belong to an excellent face-to-face crit group in London which specialises in SF/F/H.
We meet monthly with stories pre-circulauted. There are several other AW folk in the group and we now have a good number of agented writers.
It is totally awesome and has vastly improved my writing.
Awesome!