Writer's Group Guidelines

by Linda A Lavid - Date: 2008-08-31 - Word Count: 418 Share This!

In the absence of attending a writing program (an option not available to most of us), the advantages of joining a writer's group are tremendous. It is in this environment that craft can grow and flourish. Often, members in a group are diverse, not only in what they write but where they are on the writing-publishing-marketing continuum. Put all the members together and a synergy takes place, whereby a wide base of skill level and experience can be freely shared.

Besides having your writing reviewed, critiquing other people's work is likewise helpful. Figuring out what works and why is a critical developmental step in learning how to write well. And there's also the commiseration factor. Like babies to new mothers, writing is fascinating to writers, but in the company of non-writers such discussions may leave you standing alone, drink in hand, looking furtively to where your friendly listener disappeared.

Writers' groups can be found in bookstores, continuing education programs and on-line. If you can't find a local group, start one. Put flyers on community boards in bookstores, libraries, community centers, schools. Where to meet? It's been my experience that libraries, churches, restaurants have the space and are amenable to having community meetings.

Membership can be open or restricted, receptive to all genres or focused on a certain kind of writing. No matter how the group is configured, there's gold in ‘them thar hills'.

Should you want to start a writer's group, here are some guidelines.

-Sign in sheet. Depending on the size of the group, order preference will be given to those who haven't read the prior session.

- A writer will have a set amount of time, i.e., fifteen minutes, to present their unpublished work. Pieces can be read aloud or silently. Members are encouraged to write comments on handouts. All handouts will be returned to the author unless otherwise arranged.

- Depending on the genre of writing, consider the following areas to critique:

Fiction: Opening, Conflict, Plot, Setting, Characterization, Dialogue, Point of View, Showing, Telling, Format, Grammar, Spelling, Style.

Poetry: Subject, Title, Form, Structure, Rhyme, Meter, Layout, Line Breaks, Rhythm, Cliches, Imagery, Vocabulary, Adjectives, Adverbs, Showing, Telling.

Nonfiction: Structure, Argument, Topic, Readability, Illustrations, Anecdotes, Accuracy, References, Grammar, Spelling, Title.

- Critiques of work will follow. All members are encouraged to participate, but can also PASS if he or she has no comment.

- During critiquing, the critiquing member has the floor. Critiques should not be more than five minutes.

- After the critiques, the author responds and general discussion follows.

Linda's Website

Related Tags: writing, exchange, fiction, style, dialogue, argument, structure, experience, conflict, poetry, nonfiction, imagery, adverbs, adjectives, showing, telling, libraries, bookstores, critique, writers group, deconstruct

Linda Lavid is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. Her latest book is Composition, A Fiction Writer's Guide for the 21st Century. Reviewed as a "priceless gem", this book discusses the craft of writing fiction and the art of self-publishing. www.lindalavid.com

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