I put this question on Mystery Circus a year or so ago, but since many here are new members, here it is again. Do you belong to a writing group? Have you found it helpful if and when you did?. In the long run, did it help your writing. I belong to two groups-one mostly poets, the other mostly fiction writers. I am somewhat reluctant to show them what is the first novel I've tried because it might derail it completely. It is one thing when this happens with a short story, but now....What do you think? Have you ever tossed something on the advice of a group?

Views: 21

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

It can be very hit or miss.

They may not get what you're writing, or may write in a completely different genre. Worse, they may not be able to separate their own prejudices ("oh, I NEVER read romance/science fiction/mysteries!) from what it is you're trying to accomplish. Depending on the skill level of the other writers it could be the blind leading the blind.

And not everyone is wired to be in a writing group. If someone can't be objective, civil and constructive in giving feedback it's worse than useless. And if you can't separate yourself from your work, or develop a thick skin about your writing, you really don't want to be in one.

I belong to a couple. One meets weekly and has given me the most value of any group. It helps that we're all working on novels, they could all be said to fit into roughly the same genres. At the very least there's a lot of overlap. And we all read and like a lot of similar things, though with enough differences that our experiences complement each other's more often than not.

I've never ditched something because a group told me to. I've changed some things, but I weigh everything they say with what it is I'm trying to accomplish. Opinions are like assholes, after all. Everyone's got one.

I think the trick here is in finding people whose opinions you respect, and who you don't feel obliged to listen to. People who can not only look at the work as a reader, but also as a fellow writer, who can respect what it is you're trying to do, rather than project their own goals onto it.

I think you're absolutely right about not showing your book to your group. If you're that hesitant and that nervous about it getting derailed, then it's not ready to be shown. And if this is a group that, even if you tell them you're not looking for detailed feedback just a general impression, can't respect that and launches into a detailed critique then I think you need to be happy with it before you hand it off to them. I've run into that sort of thing, as well.
I think finding a writing group is like getting published: a matter of persistence and luck. Over the years, I've been in a few that didn't work for me and a couple that were marvelous. The first, back in the 1970s, was a leaderless poetry group. What the members had in common was that all of us had children at the Bank Street School. I was dubious about how good such a group could be. But there were some strong voices and fine "critters" in the group. One of them was Sharon Olds, who has since become as close to a household name as a poet gets. For me, my time in the group gave me my poetic voice and stimulated enough new work to get my first book published. Recently, I was one of eight fiction writers selected for a three week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida with "master artist" S.J. Rozan. It became an effective working group immediately by following a format in which (1)a writer read a maximum of 3000 words, with copies for the group members so we could see the work on the page and scribble comments which would later be given to the writer; (2) each person commented, first on what they liked about the piece, then on what didn't work for them and why. The writer being critiqued was not allowed to respond, and the others were not allowed to offer "fixes." Brilliant! I'd recommend this method to anyone starting a group. My seven peers were not mystery writers, btw, but all very different from each other in genre, style, and content.
That method sounds wonderful. My one group is very good. We have a playwrigh, and four short story writers. The only trouble is that the short story writers want a story that meets the requirements of lit fic rather than genre. They would rather than nobody die in my stories. I did that for seven years and now I'm ready to kill people. Maybe it's the times.
I don't belong to a writing group but a reading group. In other words, a book club. They are my friends and a bunch of stay-at-home moms like me, but unlike me, they think everything begins and ends with Oprah's recommendations. First of all, I do not watch Oprah. She bugs me. I do not think becoming a billionaire automatically makes one an authority on everything from marriage to raising children (neither of which she has experienced). And I definitely do not believe it makes her an authority on books. In fact, based on what she does recommend, I absolutely feel she is NOT a book authority.

But I stay in this club because first of all, I like these women. They're kind, goodhearted, and it gives all of us an excuse to get out of doing the dinner dishes one night per month. Plus, the one time per year where it is MY turn to host, I am hoping they will realize that there are books that go beyond bleeding-heart memoirs and how to raise a teenager, and so on.

I am beginning a 10-week mystery writing workshop online w/Gotham Writer's this Tues, April 10, and on that site, we critique each other's work under the guidance of an instructor, so I guess that would be sort of like a writing club. Except that none of us know what we're doing besides the instructor. That is, I'm ASSUMING he knows what he's doing. Oh please, God, let him know what he's doing...
I belong to a reading group too. My problem is that they are all retired women and I still work, plus write. They tend to choose very long books, often books I don't really want to read, but I stay with them because I like their politics, their values. And they work so hard to pick difficult, important books. I admire them greatly.
I guess I should find an online group that critiques crime fiction. Good luck with your group. Let me know how it works out.
How did you find people in the same area writing mystery/crime? Or is it online?
I'll look for one in Detroit. Thanks! I didn't think of that.
I have to say that I've never really fancied a writing group. I've punted each of my books down to my friend James for a look over, and still do, but now the first drafts go to my agent, and UK editors at the same time.

I know some people swear by writers' groups, and good luck to them, but it just never felt like something I wanted to get involved in. I've never taken a writing class either.

You can probably tell ;}#
I tried the YouWriteOn site for a while last year. I did get some useful comments, so it wasn't a complete waste of time, but the feedback was so patchy that most of it turned out to be pretty useless. One thing I did find annoying was the number of times I was scolded for swearing in my prose. One guy told me that it was just about acceptable to use such language in dialogue depending upon the nature of the character, but that there was absolutely no excuse for using it otherwise. So... that was me told! Despite all that, one posting ended up in their 'bestsellers chart' although I'm not sure that has helped in any way whatsoever.

Husband doesn't read 'story books' - or not many, anyway - so no help coming from that direction.
Even my mother accepts swearing in my stories. It's the rough sex that bothers her.
I'd be horrified if my mother read anything that I wrote. Cheerfully she exhibits a complete lack of interest, even in the 'wholesome' stuff I do talk about!
I belonged to one formal writing group for a while, with very mixed results.

We met weekly, and as a general rule, every other week or every third week was a guest speaker. I liked that a lot.

However, the other weeks were critique sessions.


As a general rule, the critiques of my work were far too vague to be very useful to me. Also, I found a good deal of "genre bias" in the critiques. I remember sending in a sci-fi story for critique, and one guy wrote on it "science fiction just sucks."

On the flip side, I had a difficult time critiquing other's work. I'm a newspaper editor and can be quite vicious with a red pen. I found myself holding back in a big way, even on simple grammatical matters.

I don't know that I'd join one again...probably not a critique-based one. Perhaps if I found a group that was more discussion/speaker oriented, I might give it a whirl.


CrimeSpace Google Search

© 2024   Created by Daniel Hatadi.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service