Strength in Numbers

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  • #103567
    Caseybold
    @caseybold

      The advice to get a group and let other writers critique my work is coming from all sides lately. I’m wondering, how do you all do that?

      I mean, I know there’s the forum, but (and maybe this is just idealistic) I’m thinking something like, I don’t know, the Inklings lol, and I haven’t seen anything like that online yet. Maybe I’m just unaware.

      Do any of you have writing groups? How did you find or start them? What are things you’d be interested in getting out of a writing group? I might have to start the kind of thing I want myself, and would love to hear suggestions.

       

      I'm nobody, Who are you? -Emily Dickinson 뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다.

      #103569
      DeepRun
      @deeprun

      @caseybold

      This is exactly what I have been looking for and had recommended to me as well.

      I write. A lot.  Yet the majority of it has been in a vaccum and I feel that the quality of my work is reflective of that. I have always done my best work in the company of others, striving to do their best.  Iron sharpens iron. Right now, I’m not sharpening anything, just beating myself over the head.

      I have often wondered how to find my own Inklings.

      You do not have a soul. You have a body.
      You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

      #103570
      Elisha Starquill
      @elisha-starquill

      @caseybold – YES, I’ve always dreamed of having a writing group like the Inklings! As @deeprun mentioned, I feel like it’d be so beneficial if I had more feedback on my writing and worked side-by-side with other writers, instead of just depending on my own judgement and working alone. Unfortunately I have no idea how such a group would be started, so I can’t help with that.

      INFJ ➳ Trinstamentalist ➳ Thalassophile ➳ Chocolate Hater ➳ Daughter of God

      #103571
      K.M. Small
      @morreafirebird

      @caseybold

      I’ve been around in the online writing community for over three years now, and I still haven’t really figured it out myself 😛

      I think it’s sort of like meeting a good friend for the first time. You just bump into each other, start talking, then suddenly you’re discussing something you’re both passionate about or (for the case of writers) offering to critique each other’s work and brainstorm together. Eventually you and this other writer find another writer who you want to be in the group, then invite them in, and so on. Then, with a bit of time and some friendship, you have said Inklings.

      The above definitely isn’t always the case, as I think the best way to start a critique group is to just ask around! Post something in the forum about starting a critique group of writers who write a certain genre, who like worldbuilding, etc. I think you’ll find some people who will respond and be willing to try out a critique group!

      As for what I personally would want to get out of a critique group, I would want a group that isn’t too time-consuming, but is also active and has some level of structure and consistency. I think it would be good to not have it be dedicated strictly to critiquing, but also for help brainstorming ideas. (for those writers who are working on first drafts.) I think the most important aspect of the group would be a sense of friendship between the writers in it, where everybody knows each other fairly well. If that part was there and consistently fostered, I’d think the previous things I mentioned would come a bit more easily. 🙂

      Does that help?

      ~ Khylie
      "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

      #103574
      DeepRun
      @deeprun

      @caseybold

      @elisha-starquill

      @morreafirebird

       

      The friendship aspect is vital.  It’s hard to share your the typed out version of your soul (a.k.a. wip) with others.  Not knowing what they’ll do with it.  I think a group on the level of Inklings is even beyond “community” as defined by our post modern society.  We have all the ability to connect but can’t quite seem to make it happen.  Or if it does happen, it’s rare.  Take for example the forum.  It’s a tool designed to provide that community yet why doesn’t it happen? At least not on the level we long for?

      Hence, I’ve been thinking.

      From my life experience, a community (Ugh, I wish there was a better word) can also happen with a shared experience.  I’ve seen a shared experience span decades, different walks of life, and personalities.  It’s a uniting bond that different souls can easily relate to.

      I have an experiment I’d be willing to try and organize. To have a crafted shared experience that fosters community; it’s a turned up garden bed where seeds can be sown.  Set up as follows:

      Week 1:  A portion of a wip or finished manuscript is posted.  Members of critique group are given a week to read the “mini-series” snippet and leave comments on a Google Doc.

      Week 2: Critique group members, in a dedicated discussion topic, provide feedback and critique on the portion that was read.

      Cycle repeats itself. If there is a five week month, then it’s a hiatus and break.  This could also work well with brainstorming as well.  First week; question is posted.  Second week, feedback is given.

       

      Thoughts?

      You do not have a soul. You have a body.
      You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

      #103603
      Caseybold
      @caseybold

        Thank you so much for your responses @deeprun @elisha-starquill @morreafirebird!

        @deeprun Exactly! I agree about shared experience and friendship being integral to a great writing group dynamic. I’m not sure that kind of thing can be achieved virtually, but I’d be very willing to give it a try. Your experiment sounds interesting, and if you put that together you could count me in!

        @elisha-starquill I’ve dreamed of that too! I’ve tried starting something like it before among my friends, but they weren’t also writers, so for them it was just an excuse to hang out and I didn’t feel like I was really growing as an author through that experience. Would you be interested in doing something online like @deeprun suggests?

        @morreafirebird Great ideas! I will definitely give some of these a try. Have you found the kind of feedback you’d like through the Story Embers forum or other online groups? I’m really curious about what’s out there already, and whether or not other writers are looking for more 🙂

        I'm nobody, Who are you? -Emily Dickinson 뜻이 있는 곳에 길이 있다.

        #103604
        DeepRun
        @deeprun

        @caseybold

        Yes, I’m not sure about the viability of it being able to organically happen in a virtual environment.  But I figure trying is better than just wishing for something.  The majority of my non virtual friends are not writers. I think if I told them I’ve written a rough draft of an epic fantasy trilogy… They might run for the hills.

        If it can work, I believe it’s through a shared experience.  I’m going to think and plan more today then come back with a game plan.

         

        You do not have a soul. You have a body.
        You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

        #103607
        K.M. Small
        @morreafirebird

        @caseybold I’ve found it in different places. I haven’t been a part of an ongoing critique group that has met my needs, but I have found some wonderful beta readers and writing mentors who have been a huge help. So mainly, I’ve just come across helpful people in different places. The organized critique groups I have been a part of didn’t really fit my writing philosophy, I guess. Meaning, I love to analyze themes and use symbolism and have certain authors I like to imitate, but the writers in the groups I was in were a lot different from me in that regard, so the groups didn’t fit well. And, a lot of the groups focused on critiquing polished scenes, and a lot of times I was still in the outlining or drafting process 🙂

        @deeprun I definitely agree about the shared experience, and about how difficult it can be to create something like that virtually. Your experiment sounds like a really good idea, too; structure, but not too time consuming! If you decide to do that, I might want to join 😀

        Also, I think it could help to create a sense of friendship in a virtual group by interacting live with each other. It doesn’t have to be over a video or even voice call, but getting everyone active at the same time in a chat group once a week or so can really contribute to a sense of community.

        ~ Khylie
        "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

        #103613
        Elisha Starquill
        @elisha-starquill

        @deeprun – I definitely agree with your concept of friendship and shared experience. In this case, we’d all be writers, which is already a plus because my non-virtual friends aren’t writers either and aren’t able to understand a lot of things. Hence why I’ve preserved my reputation as a sane person and haven’t told them about my fantasy novels. xD But yes! That experiment sounds excellent. I’d love to give it a try.

        @caseybold – I am interested! And <i>yes</i>, I can totally relate to non-writer friends. 😛

        @morreafirebird – Yes, I second your last point! Being active at the same time will feel more like we’re actually talking with each other (and I feel more comfortable communicating through writing anyway.)

        INFJ ➳ Trinstamentalist ➳ Thalassophile ➳ Chocolate Hater ➳ Daughter of God

        #103623
        DeepRun
        @deeprun

        @caseybold

        @morreafirebird

        @elisha-starquill

         

        I set my mind to crockpot today.  Meaning I really wanted to stew over things to make sure what I’m presenting is worthwhile and viable.

        After a lot of thought, I do believe this is worth it.  I think it’ll take a little to work out the kinks BUT what was a huge confirmation today for me was to watch each person post and see similar threads.

        Here’s why I think we can succeed;  we are all writers.  Not flippant ones.  The dedicated lock yourself in the garret attic and pound away on the typewriter until your fingers are bruised.  Unfortunately, real life intrudes and most of our friends think we’re a little different and if we told them about our alter ego, let alone the complex multi-faceted fantasy world, they would yes, indeed, run for the hills.

        So the common threads I see are as follows:

        • We are all writers.  We’re weird.  Enough said.  It was such a blessed relief to find this website and see I’m not the only one with a fantasy world (or several) stuck in my head.  That helps gain traction on an authentic community.
        • We are looking for real critique and feedback.  Not “Oh, I like it.”  “Oh, that’s nice.”  Nope.  Another level. Like….  “That scene was so close but inject more chutzpah into it because I know you can.”  “You symbolism was so good in the last chapter, pick that up and carry it forward.”  “How does this scene contribute to this character’s arc?”  Etc, etc, etc.
        • We are looking for brainstorming and sounding boards.  I absolutely need help with more polished scenes but I also need to plot spew.  A.k.a. have someone to spew out a potential plot synopsis and see if it’s garbage or gold.  That’s invaluable in my opinion.  Saved me a lot of grief.
        • We are all looking for structure.  I love to have it even if I decide to throw it out the window.  At least it’s there.  Hard to build on a sandy foundation.
        • We all have a higher calling.  Doesn’t that just change everything?  I actually stayed away from all writing groups for a long time because I didn’t want to mess around.  If I’m going to write, it’s because my soul is echoing the eternal.  I’d love to make a career out of it but that’s not the whole point.  I write because I am created to.

        To sum that all up; Iron sharpens Iron.  We could all probably come up with something by ourselves but I sense that everyone who responded is burdened to create greatly.  Even as an introvert; I have always excelled in creating when I’m in the company of others seeking the same.

         

        You do not have a soul. You have a body.
        You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

        #103624
        DeepRun
        @deeprun

        @caseybold

        @morreafirebird

        @elisha-starquill

         

        Sorry. Two parter post.  And I do apologize but the crockpot bubbled over.  You could probably just ignore the first post even!

        So, I’m looking for a small group to engage in writing process so I can do my best work and help others do the same.  Within a structured but not militant setup that provides real critique, feedback and a place to sound ideas.  All with a higher calling underpining everything.

         

        SO.

         

        Here’s how I propose to begin the experiment.  Sharing via Google Docs has about exploded my concept of reality. To be able to see and comment and edit?!?! And then send the thing all over the planet?  Just blows my mind. Anyways!

        Week One: I can start a thread on Monday that will have a link to a document from someone’s work.  Then everyone would have a week to just read that excerpt.  That takes off the pressure.

        Week Two: Then, on the next Monday, comments and critique can be posted about the work on that previous thread or a new one started.  In addition to comments being made directly on the Google Doc. Then maybe a “live” chat session?

        Now, in addition to this would be brainstorming sessions. I’m still thinking about how to and when to fit that in.  It could easily be done in the forum but would probably work better in a “live” setting like a chat.  I love the idea of chatting but am not so much keen on video or voice.  Then comes the fun part of when everyone can be online but to be able to brainstorm with that many other writers…  I can’t imagine.  I’m usually free in the later evenings.

        Now, even if only one person wants to take me up on this, that’s fine.  I’m all in.  I’m an obsessive reader and love beta reading.  If you ask me to read it, I will.  And if you’re silly enough to give me the ability to comment, I will to an unheard of degree.

         

        You do not have a soul. You have a body.
        You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

        #103637
        K.M. Small
        @morreafirebird

        @deeprun

        All that sounds good to me 😉 I was also picking up on similar threads in the posts of all four of us, so I’m glad I wasn’t the only one!

        The one thought I would add is that it might be best to have this in a Hangouts group (if everyone is alright using Google Hangouts.) The Story Embers forum is public, and while there’s nothing wrong with anyone else joining in, it might feel more like a group if we move it from public forum threads to a Hangouts chat or some such. Thoughts?

        @elisha-starquill @caseybold

         

        ~ Khylie
        "Beauty will save the world." - Dostoevsky

        #103639
        DeepRun
        @deeprun

        @morreafirebird @caseybold @elisha-starquill

        Oh! That’d be great!  I’d be all for that.

        You do not have a soul. You have a body.
        You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis

        #103643
        Zachary Holbrook
        @toklaham-veruzia

        Now, even if only one person wants to take me up on this, that’s fine. I’m all in. I’m an obsessive reader and love beta reading. If you ask me to read it, I will. And if you’re silly enough to give me the ability to comment, I will to an unheard of degree.

        @deeprun I’ll take you up on it! I’m exactly the same way when it comes to beta reading.

        おはいよう. 日本語は好きです .

        #103645
        Naiya Dyani
        @naiya-dyani

          @deeprun I haven’t read this thread much in depth yet, but oh my gosh, I’m the same! 😀

          Hearts are like matter--they can be beaten down, torn, and burned, but they cannot be destroyed.

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