In several of my previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how fellow writers have helped me learn the “craft” of writing. I truly am indebted to all those who have shared their expertise with me. As I learn and grow, I can also “pay it forward.”
I participate in one critique group composed of five out-of-town writers. We share our manuscripts by e-mailing not more than twenty double-spaced pages at the beginning of each month. Then we print the stories and spend time carefully reading them. We write comments on the manuscripts about things we like, and we also offer suggestions for changes. Before the end of the month, we snail-mail the manuscripts back to the owners. Now we can decide if we want to make changes. Most of the time, we do.
I also meet in person with local writers for a couple of hours each month. We e-mail our manuscripts to each other, print them, and write notes on them. However, we share our critiques of the stories when we meet. This allows for back-and-forth discussion about various aspects of the writing. It’s also a great learning experience because we can hear what other writers say about the story.
A helpful critique group will always give a writer positive feedback about the things he does well. No one likes to hear only negative remarks about his work. However, to become a better writer, one must be open to suggestions and willing to listen to the rationale for those suggestions. His job is to be a “sponge,” absorb the comments, and then decide what he can use.
If you enjoy writing, I hope you will find other friendly writers with whom you can share your work. It’s fun to know we can grow and improve.