If you read our little update about last month, you’ve already figured out that we’re involved in a new writing group. It’s so fun! If you’re a writer and you’re thinking about assembling your own group, here’s three things to be aware of now to make the most of your time.
Make All Your Mistakes Now
It may be embarrassing when a fellow group member points out flaws in your logic, plot, or character development. Maybe you’ve edited your manuscript a million times and it bugs you that someone else doesn’t get what you’re trying to do with a scene, or they correct obvious grammar mistakes.
Just be glad they pointed it out, and not the publishing house.
An informal group is a great way to get deep in your manuscript and own up to your flaws so when it’s time to publish through a publishing house or by yourself online, the people you want to impress will actually be impressed. The easier it is to work with manuscript, the more enjoyable your publishing experience will be.
Editing can be a beast sometimes, especially when it comes to revisiting a scene that’s driving you nuts. Speaking from experience here. But take your daily dose of patience and humility pills and truck through it.
Start Developing Thicker Skin
So once upon a time, in my younger writer’s heart, I thought that the perfect time to share a manuscript was when it was finished. Why let anyone read a story that hardly has the scaffolding in place? I learned with experience that oftentimes, the sooner you get feedback on your work, the easier the fix.
It’s not going to be fun when someone doesn’t find your clever wording as amusing as you did when you first crafted it. You might wonder how judgmental your other group members will be.
But it’s unfair to you and your manuscript if you plan on joining a group just to hear how wonderful your manuscript is. If your group sounds like this, they’re not being objective or unbiased enough.
Think of all the great authors and how much flack they get about their writing style—Stephanie Meyer a chief example. Writers will always have critiques, no matter how many copies they sell, or how many Pinterest boards are devoted to the universe they created. Now is a good time as any to learn how to take criticism with grace.
You will have a more pleasant experience if you see edits and changes as more of a help and not a hinder.
Expect to See Some Major Developments
With all the criticism that you might be worrying about, you should definitely expect some major perks. One of the major benefits will be that you will get to the root of your novel and prune it to perfection.
Writing groups have a way of bringing together different types of readers or editors: some readers look for pacing issues, while others will be looking right down to the word choice. If you want to give your manuscript “the works,” the group members will definitely help you see your manuscript change from all different examples.
Here’s an example for you. The original beginning of my novel starts with the main character as a little girl and she loses her mom, right as the Wall comes and severs the already-small island they live on. A group member suggested that I focus more on the father losing his wife. It made sense because I could introduce my universe through an adult’s eyes—someone who understands what should be going on. When it suddenly starts snowing in the middle of summer, he would have the more appropriate response rather than a seven year old.
But I also got a bit more into the story and expanded the emotional impact of realizing that you’ve just lost someone you loved without rhyme or reason. As someone who just recently got married, it was a lot easier to imagine the pain of losing a spouse, rather than a small child who just lost her mother and she doesn’t know why. A change of perspective completely changed the beginning of my novel—and I’m super dang proud of it.
So that’s a couple of things to expect from a writing group. I hope to write even more about the subject in future posts so we can discover what makes a particularly successful writing group.
What are your feelings on writing groups? Are they worth it or not?