Are you in a critique group? Is Kathryn speaking to/for you?
As a member of a long-running face-to-face group and now an active online group, I can attest to the truth of what Cynthia Hilston says below: that good groups exist. I spent far too many years writing in isolation; never again. Maybe I don’t like every response; maybe sometimes I’m disheartened. But I’d rather be disheartened now when I can figure out what to do about the problem than when I get that “we’re not the right agency for this project” form letter with NO feedback as to why.
I’ve posted about my group several times (for example, see “In Praise of My Writing Group“), and I did a series on the founding of our group, the Green River Writers, and its leader, Mary (Ernie) O’Dell, here in Louisville.
And I just posted the 2017 Contest brochure for this year’s Green River Writers contest! A terrific contest with low entries fees and lots of cash prizes! Check it out!
by Cynthia Hilston
There it was for probably the hundredth time on the sign outside my local library: writers group, meeting 8/18 2-4:00 PM. Okay, maybe not the hundredth time, but how many times did I drive past the library, which is about two point five miles from my house, and see that group advertised and not do a darn thing? The sign was one of those LED types that showed all the happenings at the library, from book discussion groups to story times for children. And my library had a writers group.
Of course, every time I saw that sign, I wondered, What do they do at those meetings? Do they just sit there and write? Do writing exercises? Or do they read each other’s work while there and comment on it?
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Louie Cronin writes for Writer Unboxed: an inspirational tale for all of us who’ve wondered if we’re kidding ourselves about being writers. I especially love her list of things she recommends we deliberately ignore! Enjoy!
Absolutely one of the best dicussions of story structure I’ve read. Resonates on so many levels for me! I just wrote to a writing group colleague that a story that’s working tells me what it’s about, and I think that sentiment jibes with this discussion. Let me know what you think!
“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”
— C. J. Cherryh
The goal of the rewrite is simple, but not easy. You want your story to live. To accomplish this, it’s helpful to have a basic confidence in the arc of your heroine’s journey before getting more specific with character, dialogue, and the refinement of prose. You’re seeking to create a story that amuses and entertains, but also captures some complexity and truth about the human experience.
This is a daunting task because—be honest—there’s a bit of inflexibility in your relationship with your first draft. On the one hand, you fear that if it’s not told as precisely as you imagined it, it won’t work. On the other hand, it feels somewhat unsatisfying as written.
So the biggest challenge in the rewriting is being able to make a thousand little painful paper-cut changes while avoiding…
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This interesting infographic reinforces several things writing teachers know about writing. Writing is a powerful “mode of learning,” to borrow from 1970s writing researcher Janet Emig, because it does so many of the things shown here. One thing it does really well is to SLOW YOU DOWN so information has time to work its way into your synapses and new ideas to bubble up.
And as this infographic shows, writing involves your body and your senses, not just isolated parts of your brain.
And writing pushes you to be more precise in diction and sentence construction, since you can’t just toss a few disjointed words out but must connect them logically to each other.
So when you want to learn or remember something, write about it!