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    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    Woke up and saw no Writers' thread this morning so here it is.

    Remember, the standard no-posting-of-fiction-here-lest-you-get-arse-eeled rule is in effect. We did a great job of not getting the thread shut down last month and had some really awesome discussion and encouragement of all of the writer types here on WC so let's keep it up.
  1.  (9490.2)
    New month! New writer's thread! And yet, I'm still writing the same stuff. Go figure. is still doing podcast prequel stories set in the world of my upcoming graphic novel, The Battle of Blood and Ink . Should finish up this storyline about mid-March, I think.

    Still doing the rewrites of my middle-grade adventure novel. Will this be the month I reach the end? That'd be awesome, wouldn't it? Then I could write...more stuff for Fables of the Flying City. Aw, well....
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    I got asked to join a writers group this week, they critique each others work once a month. Its got a good reputation, still quite nervous about showing my work to others in this way. Think it will be good for me in the long run, and it was nice to be asked.

    Anyone else have good or bad experiences with this type of group?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011 edited

    Yep, I've been in one since this time last year. My wife challenged me back in 2009 that if I really wanted to do the writing thing, then I'd need to put in the work to get better and she recommended I join a writing group.

    My experience with my group has been pretty good. It's nice to get the feedback and they're not shy about saying what didn't work for them and offering suggestions on how to fix it. My group has a lot of novice writers in it, I think I'm the only one who has been paid for any published work, and the only other person with any kind of professional writing-related experience is my copy-editor friend who is also part of the group.

    My three biggest challenges with the group was A) learning to accept the criticisms directed toward my work as valid for that person and then honestly parsing their criticism against my work to decide if I felt it should be acted on, B) dealing with other people's writing that, shall we say, is the writing of very new authors and thus sometimes painful to read, and C) being able to look someone in the face as you have their work in your hand and tell them what things you didn't like about their work. The last one was the hardest because I've had two friends ask me for opinions on their stuff and, once I gave it to them, one stopped writing entirely and the other hasn't sent me any of the things she's written since.

    However, everyone in the group is mature and really into trying to help each other get better at their craft. We just had two new people join and they marked the hell out of one of my submissions and the new guy out of the two took all of our critiques with a smile and thanked us. I think that's the big thing that makes such groups successful, whether or not people are really in it for the experience of being positively and negatively reviewed or if they're just there to get their ego stroked.
    • CommentAuthoradrian r
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    I've had good and bad experiences in that context. When I lived in London, I came across some local writers who met once every however often. Nice people, but all nice middle class women who wanted to write about nothing that would really get you going. Into this mix came an Arab guy whose details I don't recall with precision, but he was writing about his experiences in captivity. Raw, vital, political stuff. The nice middle class ladies didn't know what to make of it, and he left. So did I.

    Writing groups can be useful if you need external motivation. I got to a point where I don't, so stopped going to them. Classes and workshops can help, but ultimately you need feedback from whatever gatekeepers function in the industry you're targetting with your work. These days, with what's possible online, even those gatekeepers cease to matter...but a whole new arena of issues arises as you decide whether to be your own publisher and publicist.

    As for me, I've had no time for my creative projects for a while as I'm out networking to find more commercial work. But the biggest creative project I'm part of, a collaboration with an artist friend that lends itself to realisation as animation, computer games and more, is getting support from a very successful entrepreneur whose interests include theme park attractions, which is a whole new world to toy with.

    youdothatvoodoo -- invigorates, intoxicates, invertebrates
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    I don't have the sack to join a writer's group. I just throw it out into the wild and see what people say.

    The Shame motivates me to do better.
  2.  (9490.7)
    I started up a group here in NYC three years ago, and it's going strong still. If anything it's one of the really stabilizing influences in my life.

    Plus, I really do think it's made me a better writer. I recommend workshops for everybody, really. Though I think you've got to keep a certain awareness about what the group is doing for you.
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    Looks like Borders books, one of the two big bookstore chains in the US, is, as Eddie Izzard would say, slowly deflating like a flan in a cupboard.

    The thing that I find seriously annoying about this? Borders and B&N spent so long pushing out independent and small book-stores from local areas where there aren't any other book stores and if Borders goes tits up then those areas will have no access to books, which could negatively impact that markets looking for new material/authors.
  3.  (9490.9)
    Does anyone know of any good online writers workshops?

    This month I'm trying to bang a script together for a BBC competition, it's a 15-30 min sitcom pilot. If you win they produce the episode and put you on a writing master class if you're a runner up. Thought I'd give it a go. Anybody have any sitcom writing experience?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    Unfortunately not in either regard, sorry.
  4.  (9490.11)
    Hey Everybody, best of luck with 2011 projects!

    On the subject of writers groups: I'm very new to writing and haven't joined any groups yet but I find myself desperately trying to get anyone I can to read the stuff because, well, how else could I tell if the words worked. I think a group is a great idea and am going to look into it in the near future. I can see adrian r's point though, the group would certainly have to be made up of the right kinds of people. ( any depraved apocalyptic sadist political new wave hallucinogenic fairy tale writer's groups other than whitechapel out there?)

    This year I am working on developing a kids cartoon (possibly 3d) series. I plan to design and write up all the background/origin info and at least one script before throwing it to the wolves, er, I mean the other writers,artists, and producer (just kidding, sort of).

    I've already posted a lot of concept sketches for the characters and settings here The writings should be up in a week.
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    Thanks for all the feedback and opinions about writers' groups guys, I think I'm somewhat over my nerves, Re. what Fauxhammer said, I totally have never had the cojones to join a grpup, favouring the 'splurge 'n' shame' method Fauxhammer describes, but these guys invited me along to the party, and I figured what the hey, it's a challenge. I'll report back!
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    Please do, we'd love to hear about it.
  5.  (9490.14)
    Right, last year for me was the year of adventure, this year will be an year of completing things. Stuff to complete are:

    - At least two interactive fiction games, which I count more as writing than as game coding.
    - My novel, which is about 30% together (but needs a rewrite from the beginning to correct some bad choices).
    - Short stories, at least the two I have under construction right now.

    So, phew, that's my plan for the 2011 laid out.
    • CommentAuthorZeebo
    • CommentTimeFeb 1st 2011
    I've been to a writers' workshop or two, but unfortunately, most of the ones I went to didn't really involve any spine and half of the people ended up telling each other how good their poetry about "black souls" and "lost love" was. Not that you can't have good fiction about those topics, but it rarely contains those actual terms, IMHO.

    On a more cheerful note, I thought I'd only have time for about 350 words per day, but it turns out I can muster closer to 600 in the time I have, so huzzah for that.
  6.  (9490.16)
    I know what you mean, writers workshops can be very hit and miss.

    I joined a workshop run by this 'famous writer' and it was just awful. I mean really awful. It was embarrassing. Everyone was writing in the same style and using the same themes as the 'famous writer'. Then everyone would have an arse licking session, were they talked about how they sounded like the 'famous writer', while still using the 'famous writer' style. It made me question life. Shower of bastards.
  7.  (9490.17)
    @texture and everyone else...

    Yeah, I've been in a writing group for a couple of years now. This group is mostly formed around the idea of performance and each performance usually has a specific theme, so it's a good challenge to have to write something fitting, and it's a good challenge to get up there and perform it (and perform it well - most writers when doing readings have about as much personality as a dead fish).
    It also means I've been able to hook up with writers of various styles and topics and it's been amazing seeing them all in action. I'm also lucky because they are all amazing within their niches, and can still amaze when outside their comfort zones.

    It also means I've got another avenue with which to find out about competitions, and to get editing help and feedback on stories. I can't recommend joining a group strongly enough, though obviously your mileage may vary depending on the group.
    • CommentAuthorjoshdahl
    • CommentTimeFeb 2nd 2011
    I have been in a few writer's groups over the years and I have found that are often too supportive of any old thing.

    You feel like you are being productive because you are completing whatever assignment or exercise.....but you don't end up really producing, or seriously critiquing your work. They are nice to keep you afloat of your floundering, but they tend to focus more on the aspiring than the writing.

    That sounded really negative. Sorry about that... No, writers groups are good, you just need to choose carefully. And avoid writer's block support groups.
    • CommentTimeFeb 3rd 2011
    @joshdahl That's my big fear about groups reading my shit--not that they rip it apart, but that they go "woooow that's REALLY GOOD" when it isn't, just to be polite. I have a cadre of friends that I know are not going to bullshit me, and I bounce my shit off of them.
  8.  (9490.20)
    I did some writing workshops in college. I thought in the end they were most useful in learning a critical eye. I learned how to read someone's work, evaluate what they were going for, see why it wasn't working--and then help the writer figure out how to get where they wanted to go...I wouldn't say the evaluation of my own writing was ever that useful though. But learning to be a better reader/editor are skills that help you as a writer--so that end of it, writing workshops are good. Plus I have a fetish for deadlines, which writing workshops definitely push.

    The writing workshops I did were for fiction writing--no poetry. I shudder to think what a poetry writing workshop is like. There was one at my school run by a really cantankerous teacher who enjoyed persecuting young poets. People either loved him or stopped sharing their poetry, ha.