Writers’ groups

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

So I have my book but I don’t know what to do with it. Luckily Google is my friend. An hour or two researching on the net and I have decided I will join a writers’ group. A few more key taps and I have a list of local groups, now it gets a bit tricky. I research the groups I am interested in and some of them are not what I want.

This is where I had to decide what I was looking for. See, as I found out, not all writer’s groups are the same – some seem to be more reading groups than writing groups, some have a lot of older members and no younger ones, some are one person and their ambition to start a group. I found a couple that I liked the sound of and tried to contact the closest one to my proximity. The contact details were incorrect or outdated and I had no response to my emails, so I tried my next choice. I had a reply within 24 hours and after completing a few online forms I was a member of Vision, a Brisbane based writers’ group.

Vision are mainly a critique group who also get together after each meeting to share knowledge and experience over a coffee and a chat. Their next meeting was a month away, so I ground my teeth and chewed my nails until the day arrived. I didn’t submit anything for critique on my first meeting, but my advice to new members now is to do so straight away. There are only 12 meetings a year and the feedback is invaluable.

On my second meeting I submitted a chapter of my book. I hoped they would love it, why wouldn’t they, it’s a great book – or so I thought. I got hammered – Wham! I felt like the Joker in a fight with Batman and Robin. Ka-Pow! Bop! Blam! What is your POV? You don’t need a comma here! Your sentences are way too long. What’s a POV? I was thinking to myself, What’s wrong with that comma? and what is this rule about sentence length you speak of? I came out with a stack of paper covered in comments and suggestions to improve my work.

That was the easy part over with…Now all I had to do was pick up my pride, sift though the notes and work out what I agreed was wrong and what was just an opinion that I didn’t agree with. It sent my head into a spin, but I finally came up with a system. Look for recurring feedback…If 5 people told me they don’t believe a midget in a bikini could break an engine block by sitting on it, then I probably needed to reconsider what I’d written. If just one person says I shouldn’t put a comma after the word ‘what’, then so what, why should I care.

Over the coming months I rewrote words, attended more meetings, rewrote more words, picked up tips, and did more research. Then something amazing happened – I started to read! I think I mentioned previously that I was never one to read. This was a major step forward for me. I have read more books in the last year than I have read in my life, and I’m really enjoying it. But aside from all the novels I have also been reading books on writing. That is my next tip – read some books on writing. To help you out with this, I will add a reference library detailing the books I found most useful.

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