Writerly Advice – article 2

Join a critique group.

I joined a group last fall. There were four of us then. Nine months later, we’re down to three, but that’s just fine.

We started out all gung ho. Everyone was submitting a chapter or two over email. We were hurrying to critique each others and couldn’t wait to get our own back. Then, one returned to work, the holidays came, and first thing you know the four of us are hanging by a thread. Two of us maintained contact while one stopped writing altogether. The fourth simply didn’t have the extra time to write.

Now, it’s summer. Our group of three kicked off the season with our second critique group meeting. The first meeting was at a restaurant. We don’t count that meeting as productive.

This one we had Saturday, however, was very productive.

After crossing off about four hours of our day, Dianna and I went to Christina’s house. We had a light lunch and sat around her dining room table with our laptops open, ready to work. Books on the writing craft were stacked around our work spaces, along with a few dictionaries and thesaurus’s in between.

We each took turns giving another a review of their work. Christina’s novel is finished. Dianna’s is just getting started. I’ve been swimming in quicksand for a while. I’ve exhausted The Distance… manuscript and have decided to put it aside for a month. Luckily, an idea for a new story was born out of The Distance... Our afternoon ended with the group brainstorming ideas for my new MIP and thus, I’ve been working steady to put my ideas on paper, sketch out my synopsis and color in the characters.

This is what having a critique group is about. I think each one of us walked away from Saturday with more useful information than we came in with. We exchanged books and good fellowship.

If your writing, but don’t have another writer to bounce your work off of, I suggest you look into it. Writers are looking at other manuscripts for the points you need to be making with your characters and making sure the little things make sense. They’re looking deeper into your plot to see the arch, the black moment and that all your facts tie together. You need someone to go through your manuscript with a fine tooth comb before you submit it to an agent or editor and a critique group is a good, basic place to start.

My writing has improved tremendously since I found my critique partners. I value their opinion and look forward to our next meeting.

BTW, my MIP(masterpiece in progress) is typed with a laugh. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being haughty or proud. While the finished product, and I will finish it, may be a masterpiece to me, it may not be to everyone.

I picked up the acronym MIP from Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. It is wonderful! I’ll be sharing some advice that I learn through studying this highly recommended book on our craft.

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