Thursday, August 12, 2010. Mark the date. Someday, famous writers will be talking about their time with the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers Group.
A total of nine people attended, including me, which proved to be a perfect number of people for our living room. So if the group grows much more, we’d have to find another location.
The surprises: the diversity of the group. More women than men, from different countries, each with their own levels of experience, from a few published stories and written novels to just starting out. And I was shocked by how far people were willing to commute to attend my little ol’ writing group. A couple of the members live two hours away!
Almost immediately the group began to fulfill, then exceed, my expectations. Lively discussion revealed interesting books people had read, writing resources and our common need for motivation.
Then we critiqued my story, The Summer King. I laid out the rules, which were pretty basic. A) no snarking. Which generally doesn’t even need to be said, but I’ve been in some pretty caustic writers groups before and I refuse to let anyone get eviscerated in mine. B) the writer doesn’t get to speak unless asked a question. Just listen. I like this rule particularly since the story, once it’s out in the world, is out there alone, without the benefit of the author sitting there explaining what he or she meant to say. If it doesn’t communicate, it just doesn’t. Plus, it keeps critique sessions from dissolving into heated discussions about what the story was supposed to be doing, but wasn’t.
I had made myself the Guinea pig for this first meeting since I wasn’t sure anyone else would want to throw their work out to a group of strangers, while that’s essentially what I do every day at work. It turned out to be a BRILLIANT critique, full of inspiring insights that caused me to think about the story in exciting new ways. I’m now eager to get back into the story and rewrite it. The core idea is alive and well, but the characters and the plot structure need work, and I’m now very clear on what needs to be done. It was thrilling to sit among such an inquisitive and observant group as they asked questions and brought my attention to things I couldn’t see.
I’m certain now, this group is going to be everything I’d hoped it would be, and more!