Remember those little photo wheels that you slipped into a view finder when you were a kid — and how they suddenly brought a tiny photo to life and made you feel really close to the scene? That’s how I think of the members of my writing group: Each member brings a different point of view that helps sharpens the image we’re trying to create on the page and make it come alive.
I just love my writing group! We meet every three weeks or so and we have a very simple structure: whoever is presenting sends his or her work out about a week before and then we meet at a friendly local café and spend two hours together talking about writing and offering feedback on what’s been submitted.
Our group is small: there are just four of us right now. Along with yours truly, who’s gotten loads of help on my YA novel from my writing buddies, there’s Nancy, who’s just about to get her MFA in Creative Writing; David P., a lawyer who’s close to completing a novel with lots of action leavened with comic relief; and Donna, who manages a call center and is working on two novels filled with warmth and family drama. Another member, David H., is out of town right now on a teaching gig.
At our latest session, David P. presented the opening of a short story with some sizzling description and lots of promise. Nancy came up with a reading that pinpointed a potential problem that David hadn’t anticipated; her take on it really highlighted just how important it is to have different readers for a work in progress. The same thing happened when we focused on Nancy’s piece. This time around, I floated an idea that might just help her pump up the drama.
When we get together, there’s no way to know exactly what suggestions or responses will trigger some new scene or style shift or strategy for solving a tricky plot problem. That’s part of the fun! Just knowing that I have a team in my corner helping me to make my writing dance and sing off the page gives me a huge boost. Thank you!