For those of you who are regular visitors here, you already know that we are a little writing group that meets on a semi-monthly basis to read each other’s work, offer constructive feedback, and act as a sounding-board for the challenges of juggling writing and life.
We are, to put it mildly, a bit loosey-goosey when it comes to rules. I’m sure the founders of the Clarion Method would frown at our “guidelines.” For instance, we don’t have designated moderators—we each take turns playing host, a task that involves making sure the wine is chilled and the lottery tickets are bought.
But we do believe whole-heartedly that we are helping each other become the best writers that we can be, without getting in each other’s way.
According to Kate Monahan, who writes for the MFA Confidential blog, if you belong to a writing or critique group, there’s no law that says you have to incorporate absolutely everyone’s feedback into your WIP.
Joining a writing group opens your work up to criticism—that’s the whole point. But it’s not about letting someone else’s style and imagination overwhelm your own.
When the Restless Writers get together, each one of us works our individual magic. We each have something to add: an eye for dialogue, a grammatical pet peeve, or an awareness of dated jargon. (Although as a group, we cannot seem to sort out how to use italics properly to set off thoughts in first-person POV. Or if it’s even necessary. A little help?)
Beckie, for example, will always tell me if I’ve used “forcefully” two times in the same chapter. And Lori helps me sort out the words that sound great in my head but come out all wrong in the story. (Ahem…I deleted “prowler” like you told me to, ladies, but I’m keeping “bum’s rush.” It has a quaint, 40’s-era feel to it that pleases me.)
As for me, I will always delete the extra spaces between sentences, encourage you to re-evaluate your hyphen placement, and tip you off if I don’t think your characters are acting authentically.
But of course, take my criticism with a grain of salt. And that goes for any writer who is part of a group. Always let your own voice shine through.
2 responses to “The Restless Writers’ Guide to Criticism”
Great post, Maria! And Beckie, I do believe she gave us a bit of the bum’s rush with that last part…
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