8 Reasons Why Joining A Critique Group Is The Best Decision

A few years ago I remember posting on my blog seeking a writing group. I was looking for something online because I was working full-time and going to school full-time.

I knew a writing group would help me with my writing, but I didn’t know where to start. I had no idea where to look for such a group.

The day after I posted something on my blog about it, my dad ironically found an article in the newspaper. Our local library was putting together a writer’s critique group. Kris and I looked into it and we joined immediately.

We’re still part of that group to this day and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

8 Reasons Why You Should Join A Critique Group

I’ve always heard pros and cons about joining a writer’s group, but I’ve found it to be more helpful than harmful. So, here some reasons why I think every writer should join a writer’s group.

1. Editing Skills

When I first joined my writer’s group, I was taken aback at the feedback I received. When I read their pieces my thought was, “Wow! This is really good!” I liked all the stories and I wanted more. I didn’t really have too much to say because I couldn’t find any mistakes.

But there are always mistakes. There are always opinions. What did you like? What didn’t you like? I’ve learned a lot about editing over the past few years I’ve been part of my group. I know the right questions to ask and know what to look for when reading someone else’s work.

2. Writing Skills

Just like editing, you learn a lot about writing as well. As you read the work of your fellow writers, you’re looking at different writing styles and ideas. You learn from one another to help with your own writing process.

3. Inspiration

Stuck on something in your writing? Feel like something isn’t working out or you have writer’s block? Ask your group members for their opinion on what you should do next. They’ll help generate ideas and then you can pick and choose and try out the different ideas because deciding what to do next.

4. Socialization

Writers aren’t the best at being social. Having a group of writers is great because it gets you out of the house and gives you social interaction with other humans. Not only do you find a great community of writers, but you’ll also make new friends as well.

5. Promotion

Have a blog? Share it with your group. Finally getting that book deal? Throw a party with your group. Your writing group members are most likely your first fans. Plus, you can bounce promotion ideas off of one another as well.

6. Self-Confidence & Thick Skin

When I first joined my group and submitted my first piece I was nervous. I’ll admit, there was a sick feeling in my stomach when people told me what they liked and what they didn’t like about my work. Taking criticism is hard to get used to. However, there will be people out there who absolutely love your work and there will be people who think you’re a terrible writer. Everyone has their own opinions, their own tastes in books.

Your writing group will be honest and help you along the way. Through that, you’ll gain thick skin in taking criticism as well as gain self-confidence in your own work.

7. Motivation

Sometimes it’s hard to keep writing. Having a deadline to submit something to your group can either help or hinder that motivation to write. For me, it usually boosts my motivation to keep writing. I want to keep up with the members of my group and I’m also excited to share what my novel has in store for them next.

8. Writing Time

We all complain that there’s not enough time in the day to get our writing done. Having the deadline of the group will help with that. In a way, it’s kind of like homework and you end up making sure you find the time to get that writing done.

Are you part of a writing group? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!

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Spilled Ink Is Open!

Remember that surprise I told you all about at the beginning of the month? Well, here it is!

Spilled Ink

Spilled Ink is now open for all of you to enjoy!

Kris and I have been thinking of creating our own writing group with our writing buddies here on WordPress for a while and now it’s a reality.

Spilled Ink is a community to do all sorts of writerly things, such as:

–Swapping manuscripts; giving and getting feedback on your work
–Posting and participating in writing prompts
–Discussions about characters, plot, editing, world-building, etc.
–Promote your blog, website, book, etc.

Kris and I have met a lot of wonderful writers through WordPress, so we decided it would be great for all of us to get to know each other a little better. We can help each other out with our writing in the process.

Spilled Ink is a laid-back community. There are no true deadlines for everyone to meet at the same time. If you need a manuscript to be critiqued, you can post it in the Story Profiles and people will sign up to read it and give you feedback. From there, you can decide how long you would like the turn-around time to be.

It works both ways as well. You can post in the Reader Profiles and people with stories can ask you to read their story.

You may have one person critiquing your story or you might have five or more. It’s up to you and also up to the people willing to take on stories.

Since Kris and I are the admins, we’ll try our best to read and critique as many stories as we can.

Spilled Ink is hosted by Proboards. Kris and I have nearly ten years experience with that forum host (we used to role-play a lot). If you’ve never been on there before, it’s pretty easy to navigate. You’ll get used to it in no time.

Kris and I have a few other ideas for the website as well, but that depends on how many people join and are willing to participate.

So, if you’re reading this then consider yourself invited. If you’re interested (and we really hope you are) you can visit Spilled Ink HERE and register! Don’t worry; it’s free.

We hope to see you all there!

Problems with Protagonists

Last Saturday I had another meeting with my writing group. Two people couldn’t make it which meant that I was critiqued by four people this month.

Many of you know I’m working on a mystery series titled George Florence. It was originally called Detective Florence and decided to change it.

Everyone in my group seems to enjoy the novel really well so far. I’m happy with it and I’m happy with the feedback they’ve given me, both good and bad.

Now, before I explain my problem, I have to say that I’ve been thinking about making some changes to my novel. One, I’ve been rethinking the POV. Right now it’s in first person with George as the narrator since he’s the protagonist. The more I write this series (three books written so far) the more I wonder if it should be third person limited.

Why? I’m not entirely sure. But if I’m thinking this then somewhere in the back of my mind must have some good reason, right? It wouldn’t hurt to try, right?

Okay, now I’ll explain my problem…

No one in my writing group really likes George. They all love and adorable Lilah, who is the female protagonist, but George is the main-main character… and they think he’s a wuss.

As sad as I am to admit, I agree with them. George does not have the personality I originally intended for him to have.

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Via Pinterest

George has been a character in my mind for years. I first thought of him while writing in a notebook at Barnes & Noble with my sister. I had about 40 or so pages written. The plot was different, the characters were different, the setting was different… the only thing that remained true over the years was George and the title. Lilah wasn’t even a sparkle in my eye at that time.

For an experienced detective, George certainly should not be acting the way he does. Lilah takes charge, she’s bossy, she knows what she’s doing–when she probably shouldn’t.

I told them I knew George needed to be flushed out more. I told them I was thinking of changing the POV. I also told them that Lilah seems to have squeezed her way through and started taking over the story without my consent.

Their advice? Screw George. Write Lilah’s story.

The group coordinator brought up a good point and told me that if Lilah is itching to be told, then she needs her own story as soon as possible. This is Lilah’s way of telling me that she needs to be the lead on a story.

We all know that its the characters who write the story, not the author, so when he said this I completely understood and agreed with him.

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Via Pinterest

The problem is… I feel like I’m cheating on George. Of course, he would still be in the story. He would still be the detective. The plot, characters, setting, etc. would be the same. It would just be from Lilah’s point of view.

So, here are my options:

1. Keep editing and revising until George strengthens and grows against his will
2. Rewrite story in third person with George as main character… see if that makes a difference
3. Rewrite story in first person with Lilah leading the way
4. Rewrite story in third person with Lilah in the lead

Four options… doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a lot to take in.

George Florence is the fifth novel I’ve completed, but the first one I’ve ever been truly serious about. It’s hard trying to figure out what’s best for the novel.

The novel is already written has been edited before. The draft I’ve been sending my group is the second draft. I’ll probably keep sending them the next parts of this draft like nothing happened. Maybe George will seem like he improves throughout the story.

In the meantime, I will try to rewrite the first part with Lilah in charge. Depending on how well that turns out, then the novel may get a huge makeover.

It’s especially troublesome because I love George, even though he didn’t come out as planned. I feel bad kicking him to main male instead of main protagonist. But ultimately it comes down to this question: how can I expect to sell a novel with a protagonist no one likes?

What are your thoughts on this: has this ever happened to you? What do you think I should do?

May Goals

May 2015 Goals

April has come and gone and boy, did it go by fast. Spring is officially here (let’s hope the weather stays nice) and school is officially over for me which means that I’m going to have more time on my hands. More reading, more writing, more blogging.

That being said, I decided to set monthly goals for myself to get myself into a better routine. I’ll still be spending six hours of my day at work, but that’s all scheduled so it’s easy to set goals.

Reading:

With five Saturdays in May, that means five book reviews. These books may change depending on my mood, but as of right now here’s what I’m thinking of reading:

1. TTFN by Lauren Myracle
2. L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle
3. The Sight by Erin Hunter
4. Dark River by Erin Hunter
5. Outcast by Erin Hunter

The Lauren Myracle books are books two and three of the Internet Girls series. I already read and reviewed book one, TTYL.

The three Erin Hunter novels are the first three novels of six in the third Warriors series. I haven’t read that series in a while so I decided to get back into them.

As stated, those books may change. Books may also be added depending on how quickly I can get through those five novels.

With that being said, my Reading List was updated with April’s books.

Writing:

For my writing group I need to edit parts two and three of the first George Florence novel. I need to look at part two and the critiques I get on that and then look at part three to send in by the 15. Then I have a meet with the group on the 30 so I also need to critique their pieces by then.

I have to type up the next draft of George Florence 2 and take a closer look at that and the first novel. That way my next edits can possibly be the last.

I plan to write one Short Story Sunday a day giving me 31 short stories by the end of the month.

I’m going to start querying my children’s book. I’ve been slowly gathering information on different agents over the past few weeks, so I think it’s time to get rolling on that.

I also may or may not try to find some contests and magazines to submit to depending on if I have time to write submissions or if I already have something to submit.

Kris and I are also going to start working on a big project–not a book, but it’s writing related. There will be more on that much later, though.

So, there’s a lot of editing and querying to do this month and only a little bit of writing. I have too many manuscripts written, but not edited. I may or may not leave the writing to NaNo months for the time being. We’ll see.

Blogging:

Nothing has changed on the blog. I’m just going to continue posting every day hoping each post is better than the last.

Overall, May is going to be a super busy month. Between reading, writing, blogging, and work, I have my plate full. At least I don’t have to worry about school anymore… I can’t wait for my diploma to arrive in the mail!

Birthday Weekend

Friday: Friday seemed like a long day. I was anxiously awaiting to get out of work not only for the weekend, but so I could get to my friend’s house. My friend had a baby about a month ago and I was just meeting the baby for the first time. It was a good afternoon because I got to hold a baby (it’s been a long time) and I got to see my friend. I haven’t seen her since her baby shower back in November. I have school and work to thank for that.

Friday night I came home and worked on my writing group’s critiques. They were due Saturday morning, so I naturally left them until the last minute. It’s funny how deadlines creep up on you.

Saturday: I had my first writing group meeting. Technically was the second one, but Kris and I missed the first due to a prior commitment. We were nervous, but it went really well. Including the two of us, there’s seven of us total. Small, but I like it that way. It was good to have my work being read and critiqued by others than family. I got great feedback, both positive and negative. The next step is to edit that part again so I can edit the second part and send that for next month.

My cousin had a birthday party to go to so I went with my mom to drop her off and then we were food shopping. For once, we finished shopping in a timely manner and then had an hour to kill while we waited for my cousin’s party to be over. Once we got home, my mom thought it would be a good idea to go out to dinner. Kris and my dad didn’t feel like going, so Mom and I went to Panera. I was barely home on Saturday and wasn’t able to get anything done I originally planned. However, I spent the majority of the day with my mother (and we don’t get a lot of time to do that often) so it was good.

That night we gave my mom her birthday gifts early. We got her a Blu-Ray player and a new iPad. So I think she was pretty content.

Sunday: It was my mother’s birthday, plus Palm Sunday. So we went to church, which was extra long because the service was an extra half hour and then the Sunday school kids had their annual Easter egg hunt. We ended up being at church for an extra hour.

I took my Spanish quiz (that again, I left until the last minute) and then we went out to dinner. There was 11 of us for dinner and the waitress was slow and not very good, so we were there for a little while. We went to The Outback, so I can’t complain–the food is always awesome.

Then we went back to my house for cake for Mom’s birthday.

Overall, it was a great weekend. Busy, but relaxing at the same time.

This Week: I need to outline a bit more for my Camp NaNo novel. Camp starts in two days. With that being said, I need to finish my homework in a timely manner. Plus, I need to work on my Detective Florence manuscript for my writing group.

April is going to be a busy month; especially when it comes to writing. I hope I’m able to get a routine down and stick with it–even if it’s just for the month.

How was your weekend?

Writing Weekend

Friday: I didn’t do much. I’ve had a head cold for the past week so after work on Friday I didn’t do much of anything. I had the opportunity to go to the movies, but when you have an off-and-on headache that doesn’t want to quit, a dark, loud movie theater is the last place you want to be. Instead, I took a bath and started reading a new book.

Saturday: I felt much better, but still under the weather. I managed to get a few things done, though. I started editing the first part of Detective Florence‘s second draft. The edit was due on Sunday for my writer’s group. Of course I left it until the last minute. It was in my mind all month, but the 15th of the month always seems so far away until it’s staring you right in the face.

I also continued to read the book I started on Friday. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped I would, yet I couldn’t put it down at the same time. Go figure.

Sunday: I skipped church due to my cold. It was nice to have an extra day to stay home and do nothing. I finished typing up the edited second draft of Detective Florence and sent it off to my writer’s group. Then I spent the majority of the rest of the day reading that book.

Kris is house/pet sitting this week for our neighbors so I went over to their house for a couple of hours last night just to hang out. A new episode of Once Upon A Time was on, so we watched it in their gorgeous living room.

On a side note, I finished reading that book this morning. I’m going to give it a review once I finish reading the trilogy and do all three books at once. Given the ending of the first book, I think that would be a better way to do it. I have a love/hate relationship with that book, so I have no idea how the rest of the series is going to go.

This Week: I plan on starting my outline for Camp NaNo next month. It’s something I should have already started, but of course I didn’t. It’s spring break this week for school, so at least I won’t have any homework to do.

I also plan on getting some of my April posts done so I can focus more on NaNo next month.

In addition to that, I need to continue writing and editing Detective Florence 2 as well as read and edit the stories my writer’s group submitted. There’s only four, so I think it will give me a chance to really take my time with each one.

How was your weekend?

Writers Workshop

It’s been an extra long weekend for me. Yesterday (Monday) and today were two more snow days for me. We had another big snowstorm all day yesterday. We may be getting another one Thursday and then yet another one Sunday into Monday… more snow days? We’ll see.

As you can see, my fence is completely buried.
As you can see, my fence is completely buried. Where we’ll put the upcoming snow, I have no idea…

Friday I didn’t do too much. I went to work and finished my homework for the week. It was exciting. Sunday I had church and it was the Superbowl. I’m sure most (if not all) of you watched it. I did not. I know who we were rooting for and I knew who won and that’s about it. I don’t watch it because I don’t understand it, but I heard it was a good game.

Saturday was a fun day for Kris and I. Our dad found an event at our local library called “Writers Workshop.” He thought we would like it, so he told us about it and we went.

Remember a few weeks ago I posted Writers Group Wanted? Well, completely by accident my father found one for me. We all get together, swap manuscripts, give each other feedback, etc.

I know I said I wanted an online one, but you take what you can get, right? Plus, all the people seem really nice. There was about 20 of us there; it was a big turnout. So, the guy who’s running it decided to split it into two groups. Kris and I are going to be in the Saturday group because Wednesday nights are school nights for me and I’m in my pajamas at the time they’ll be meeting.

So, we’ll swap our pieces through e-mail by the 15th of every month and then we’ll critique each other. We’re going to meet the fourth Saturday of every month and discuss our work and critiques. It’ll be a good experience.

With that being said, I still may or may not try to do something on the Internet for me and my WordPress friends (yes, you). As I mentioned in the post above, I was thinking of starting one myself online. I still haven’t decided, but it’s still a thought.

Yesterday and today, as mentioned, are snow days so I plan on doing nothing. Maybe get some homework done, do some writing… but nothing major. I have to take these days while I can.

How was your weekend?

Writers Group Wanted

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For a long time now I have been wanting to join a writers group. You know, have other writers read and critique my work and I’ll read and critique their work in return.

I found a site called Critique Circle a while ago and it was great. I posted a short story on there and the people who gave me feedback were helpful and informative. However, the thrill of the site ended fairly quickly for me.

I wanted feedback on my stories and the way to do that was to earn credits. You need to earn credits by critiquing others. That’s fine; especially since you don’t want people on there posting story after story and never giving back to anyone else. It makes sense and I agree with that.

The thing is, it can be a long process. Some people are obviously more helpful than others and your story is only posted there for a week. Sometimes people don’t start critiquing it until there’s only one day left for it to be critiqued. In which case, you don’t get a good amount of people looking at your story.

I found another website (the name escapes me at the moment), but I didn’t even bother signing up. You need to pay. Um, no.

So, this is why I’m coming to you all of you guys out there:

–I want to join a writing group to meet other writers like myself
–I would like it to be online (due to my work/school schedule) where we can swap manuscripts and give them back to each other in a certain period of time
–It would be nice to have a small group of five or so people so we can all get to know each other and each other’s writing styles… but it would also be nice to have a large community to get other people’s opinions as well if needed

I know it seems like a lot to ask for and I probably sound extremely picky. I don’t know if any writing groups out there exist like that. I thought I would ask because Google hasn’t been helping on that front.

I’m also asking because, as stated, I’ve been wanting this for a while and my professor for my creative writing class last semester tried to get us to start one. I tried offering different ways we could set a group up, different websites we could use, etc. Three people replied saying, “Sounds good to me” or “Let me know the details and I’ll join.”

In other words, they didn’t seem enthusiastic about it. If they’re not enthusiastic about it, then how can I trust them to be committed and give me structured critique on my work?

So, if anyone knows any good writing group sites or would be willing to even start one up with me, that’d be awesome.

Thanks for the help in advance!