Archive for the ‘Writers' Critique Group’ Category

The advantage of writing groups

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Joining both a book club and a writer’s group cross pollinates the writing process.

This I have found from my membership in two writer’s groups – Northern Colorado Christian Fiction Writers and Our Weekly Writers’ Workshops meets … Under the Cuckoo Clock – and a book club that holds monthly meetings at Barnes & Noble in Fort Collins.

The Weekly Writers’ Workshop, which I joined in 2008 to get back into writing, starts each meeting with a writing prompt, followed by a group edit of the work we bring in.

From being a part of this group, I learned new concepts, such as the definition for character arc and what is a word echo (the repetition of a word or phrase within the same paragraph or on the same page).

I improved my editing skills by observing how other writers’ edited each other’s work and also by doing the editing, because practice leads to skill improvement.

And I kept to a writing schedule, wanting something to submit each week for our accountability reports.

At the NCCFW group, which meets monthly, we read a chapter or two from a writing book and then the next month bring in a response to a writing assignment related to the book or a few pages from our current project.

Because of the assignments, I’ve written stories that I would not have thought of without the prompt. I’ve seen how other writers interpret the chapters, expanding what I notice and recall from each chapter. And I’ve remembered the material, because learning new facts and ideas is easier through repetition.

By being part of these two groups, I’ve also realized:

  • Words and phrases said out loud read differently than they appear on the page, helping identify where things are stated awkwardly or fail to read      smoothly.
  • Hearing writing read aloud helps catch grammar mistakes and missing words or grammatical marks.
  • Other writers can help point out any weak areas in plot and character      development that you may not notice, as well as problems with pacing. For example, my writers’ groups have helped me tighten dialogue by deleting unnecessary pieces of conversation that don’t move the plot forward.

By joining a writers’ group, you can get help with brainstorming plot or other elements and hear a variety of perspectives on what you’ve written. Each writer notices different things, doubling or tripling your editing effort.

A writers’ group serves as a writing community, providing you with people who care about your successes and commiserate with you when you run into obstacles with the writing and getting-published processes.

One Year We've Been Here

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Weekly Writers' Workshop meets under my cuckoo clock each Thursday.† A year ago this month we decided to commit to sharing this blog.† Congratulations to us!† We have done it - each has made contributions to the blog on a regular (or semi-regular!) basis.† We are developing distinct voices from one another and from any number of writing projects that pay the bills.

Congrats, Word Wenches, for your persistence and commited presence Under The Cuckoo Clock!

Conference Update & Surprise

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Thanks to the generosity of a dear friend, today I had the pleasure of attending the 5th Northern Colorado Writers Conference.Writers, both published and pre-published (Mike Beflerís clever tag), joined in welcoming award winning novelist and creator of more than forty television shows, Stephen Cannell. His keynote presentation kept the audience enthralled.

Stephen had several outstanding points in his presentation:

1. ìDyslexia never stopped me and I was never afraid to bet on myself.î Translation: believe in yourself and your work.

2. He suggested you think like an agent. Do research to find out what the agent has done, mention a favorite or two then instead of asking for representation, ask for help to improve your work to get to the caliber of present clients. Translation: Flattery will get you everythingÖwell at least it'll get you in the door. The rest is up to you.

3. Stephen discussed his relationship with actors. He claimed his ìI owe you my best opinion,î and ìwe can work it out,î set the scene for developing successful professional relationships.† Translation: cooperation and compromise work hand in hand for the most effective results.

I also attended three other inspiring workshops:

1. †Colorado author, Page Lambert who addressed the importance of place in writing through the use of atmosphere, symbolism, imagery, and metaphor through readings from classic novels and her own work.

2. Mike Befeler, another Colorado author, concentrated on the tools and techniques used to help an author establish a marketing platform.

3. Agents Rachelle Gardner (WordServe Literary GroupóCO ), Ken Sherman (Ken Sherman and Associates Literary AgencyóCA), Joe Monti (Barry Goldblatt Literary AgencyóNY), and editor Ben Barnhardt (Milkweed Editions) shared their personal and professional insights via a Q&A-Agent/Editor Panel. Their presentation was informative, candid, lighthearted and encouraging.

Then to top off the evening, after a tasty buffet dinner, YA author Todd Mitchell gave a spirited presentation on why weíre called to writing, introduced us to a top-ten list of why we should never stop writing and, in a most charming way, challenged us all to keep the words alive.

My own surprise came when I mentioned to the editor from Milkweed Editions my story: A Poppiní Tale. Seems I had contributed to one of their anthologies -† Stories From Where We Live: The Great North American Prairie and he recognized it. WOW!

When I came home I looked up the copyright date...weíre talking 2001. WOW!

I was also pleased to tell him the story had been used in the NV School Literacy tests for several years. He smiled at that tidbit of info; obviously impressed. After a brief chat, he said heíd be open to any query I think heíd be interest in taking a look-see for Milkweed. WOW!

Yes, fellow wordsmiths, I will follow up.

Today things are buzzing ...

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Today, under the Cuckoo Clock there is a lot of buzz!† We are thrilled to have a forum ... a place to put our ideas "out there" and share.

First of all, THANKS, Fred!† We appreciate this awesome, fabulous, wonderful website.† We respect your expertise and are grateful you have shared it with us.

We look forward to learning how to navigate through what technology† is new to us, sharing with others what tricks and insights we've discovered here, and in general moving our careers forward.

Already we are having vivid discussions about what to post here! We are wildly enthusiastic*† about having our very own forum here.

* just so you know, Mj is the wild one. 🙂

These meetings under the cuckoo clock of ours ...

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Our mission:† Work together to build an unbeatable network of support, and succeed in our writing careers!

Sounds simple.† Meet weekly - same place, same time.† Show up.† Be accountable.† Participate in the writing prompt.† Bring work to be critiqued.† And so we have.† In November we celebrate five years of meeting weekly to hone our writing craft.† I'm Mj and I host Weekly Writers' Workshop.† I started this group because I wanted to surround myself with like-minded writers who are serious about being published.† After five years of listening to my well-traveled German cuckoo clock, we've somehow begun to refer to meetings as taking place around my table "under the cuckoo clock."

That's just in case you were wondering.

One esteemed member of our ranks even mentioned the camaraderie and synergy we share in the intro to her book.† Check out "Wild Ink - How To WRITE FICTION for Young Adults" by Victoria Hanley. One member vividly chronicles her decidedly dramatic life as the parent of a child with a disability who spends way too much time with her great team at Children's Hospital. Another has a strong (87,700+ hits!) blog of her own; don't miss the Midlife Crises Queen!

We're trying out this blog as a forum for our WWW members to test ideas, share thoughts, and keep up our practice of writing.† No more, no less.

As for me, I am thrilled to be living a life deeply enriched by these working writers. Each writer has unique skills, personality, and insight. † When each of these amazing Word Wenches is added to the mix that is "Weekly Writers' Workshop," the sum of the parts totally, far and away, exceeds the whole.

I'm no math wiz, but I know magic when I experience it.† And this is MAGIC!