Saturday Writer’s Group: Revising, Critiquing, and Noobs.

9 Jun

I’ve come to really enjoy my Saturday Writing group. The critiques are really good and the writing quality is already high, which makes it fun to give some really good critiques.

Before we got started, I told everyone I was about to embark on the U.S.S Editing and asked for some advice for a safe voyage. I got some great advice!

  • Cut it into sections and re-arrange them on the floor. (For a novel length piece, write the plot points on note cards and rearrange them on the floor to see what works best.
  • Read it aloud
  • Write the plot as you remember it after reading
  • Think about how it relates to your original goal and adjust plot or goal as necessary
  • Think about the main conflict and how it relates to each scene

Thanks to my group for grounding me in this advice!

There were a few points that came up from reading other member’s critiques. One man shared a piece that was writing like a personal essay, but was not about a personal experience. Before he told us this, I thought the piece was a reflection of something that had happened to him and wrote my critique with this thought. When he told us that the plot was fictionalized, I had the desire to re-critique it. I felt that I would have different suggestions if I went into the piece knowing it was fiction. Do you critique differently when something is a memoir or personal essay? What kind of things would you avoid saying? Off the top of my head, I would avoid suggestions for additions or changes to characterization or dialogue. If those things really happened, how truthful is it to change them? I might also leave out some personal opinions about the characters that I might normally give. If they’re real people, I wouldn’t want to offend their personalities!

There was one thing slightly off about our group at this meeting. We had a new member. This group has been really good about new members before so we didn’t think this would be an issue at first. However, it soon became obvious that this member did not understand what our group was about, how we worked, and hadn’t read the pieces we would be discussing. He continually tried to push his (outlined) novel and couldn’t provide a lot of feedback because he was unfamiliar with our pieces. After he left, we considered adding more security to the group website. Our moderator requires that someone submit a sample before joining and this person had not. We were wondering how he was able to see our meeting location.

For those of you in writing groups, how do you handle new members? Do you require writing samples? What do you do with unwelcome new members or people who don’t follow the group rules? I’ll be running the next meeting and he’s promised to return with a friend! I need to be strong and stern looking, and that’s not normally my specialty.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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