I found a writers group in my area and slinked into my first meeting. Pfft, what was I so nervous about? They turned out to a helpful, experienced group of authors that welcomed me like an old friend. I went to my first meeting with little more than a NaNoWriMo outline, character sketches, and a synopsis, but they were able to work from that.
- I need to work on my main character’s flaw. It can’t be a flaw that would prevent Catherine from adopting a child. (Helps that one of the group members is a pastor experienced in family matters.)
- I need to research the specific area of my setting in Giles County, Virginia, for information from the 1800s. (Pretty darn cool that a woman in the group is a genuine historian.)
- I need to bring some dark chocolate next time. They didn’t actually say that. I volunteered. Everything’s better with chocolate.
- I need to stick with the premise of my story because it’s unique enough to be interesting. (“Plot holes are fixable. Don’t you dare scrap it and start over!”)
How’d I find a writers group?
I did a Google search. I live in an almost-rural area, so the population isn’t dense, thus, few writers. But I found a group that meets in a very small library in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My point is if I can find a writers group, anyone can. In the feature image of this post, on one side of the fence is the library, on the other side, horses!
Tips for newbies going to their first writers group meeting:
- Bring a notebook and pen. There will be lots of advice you’ll want to capture and review later.
- Disassociate yourself from what you’ve written. You can’t hear constructive criticism if you think others are criticizing YOU and not the conglomeration of words you’ve brought along.
- Try to be quiet while others are giving you feedback. It’s a time to be listening, not a time to be explaining. Even if you disagree, you’ve been given an insight as to how potential readers will take your words.
- Get specific when giving feedback to another person’s writing. “It got really good at the end” isn’t helpful. On the other hand, “I couldn’t tell who was speaking to whom in the dialogue passage, but later the description of the car racing toward Tonisha made my heart thump” is helpful.
- Be aware of time. Presumably the group has a moderator or an agreement as to how to allocate time, but if there are six writers and ninety minutes, you’ll only get fifteen minutes. Jot your notes quickly, give feedback succinctly.
As I type this, there are nine days until NaNo. I think I’ll be ready in time. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck and have fun!