Years and years ago, I read a book about writing because, let’s face it, READING about writing is way easier than actually writing. The one piece of advice that stuck with me was that every writer should have a critique group to meet with on a regular basis. When a co-worker mentioned his wife, Deborah, was interested in writing, I contacted her. Deborah had a friend, Steve, who was ALSO interested and thus began my first ever writers group.
Can I just tell you how scary this was? Meeting new people, sharing my writing, acting as if this was anything more than a ridiculous dream? It didn’t help that this was my “Sue Grafton” period and I was working on a mystery novel about a 92-year-old woman named Granny Chickens who was arrested when her chicken cleaning knife was found next to a dead body in the trailer park.
They kept me around for entertainment purposes, obviously.
Anyway, we’ve met off and on for the past TWENTY years. There were a few “gaps” as people changed jobs, got married, had kids, gave up on writing, got back into writing – okay, that was just me. But the point is – I would have never finished The Junkman’s Daughter without them.
The group has changed somewhat over the years. In the beginning, we would meet and read each other’s work. Later, we started emailing our drafts so we could have more time to talk. Now we want to WORK. Last week I drove to Deborah’s house and we held a mini-workshop. We talked about new projects, spent about five hours hashing out plot points, character development, surprise endings and dispensing sage advice like – “No one wants to read about ugly, overweight country people having sex with their half-brother.” You can’t reach that kind of insight on your own.
One of our goals for the next meeting is to create a storyboard –a plot outline with photos. Since my main character is a 17-year-old hottie who’s super fit – I spent the afternoon searching the internet for “male models”.
I’ve learned so much since Granny Chickens.
Harriette Austin Writers Conference starts on Friday. Have you registered?