Writing groups are a fantastic forum to preview your work and gain feedback as well as being a melting pot for new ideas and techniques. Reading out your manuscript is important but sometimes you may be just hanging out with the wrong people. Here’s a list of characters I have come across since I started writing.
.1. The Elite.
Writing groups differ depending on the dynamic and the experience levels. The first one I attended was aptly named a Writers Circle.
They jumped on people’s work and dressed things down, whilst having an inner council to steer the group. No one wants to participate in a group to feel inferior and intimidated. Its amazing how these literary giants will not offer constructive critiques. If you find one of these groups find common ground and challenge. Its the best way to deal with them.
.2. It’s all about me.
Every single subject is about them. If your group session is for a few hours 80% will revolve around their latest WIP. Its sirt of admirable that they can manage to even switch someone elses critique time back onto themselves.
.3. The Retro.
There’s no school like the old school. Nothing is as good as it was. Books haven’t evolved since his childhood favourites. All his work is antiqued. Everything has a vital strong moral message. Crazy children’s stories revolve around a mop wanting to see the world and tree that wants to fly. Oh yes O have seen a WIP about a magical mop. They have no children but instinctively know what children want to read. Hmmmm .
.4. The Sidetracker or Distractor.
She loves to talk! Who can blame her? She is interesting after all. She talks about everything except writing. Family, work, hobbies, cooking. How they went on holiday to Cambodia and ate insects, you know? That sort of thing. She wants to talk about anything and everything but writing. She is always on her for calls or text messages. Being part of a writing community is amazing, especially the support you can recieve and the knowledge that can be imparted. Whilst I love everyone in my writing group, I’m a busy man. When I’m there I want to be on point and actually do some errm writing and critiquing. If we want to chew the cud, lets pop to the pub after the group or on another night, by all means.
Peas in a pod these two.
Atilla is harsh, brutal in fact.He will never say anything positive. This is obvious by watching the face of the brave little soldier who is nodding through tears and snivelling, after hearing Atilla’s insight. After all Atilla is just being brutally honest and that’s what we all want right?
Bambo is just the opposite. EVERYTHING is brilliant and he never can think of how to improve things. He marvels at your work and is positive you will be published. Soon. You just want to say “Bambi! Man up.”
.6. Mr Opinionated.
This fellow is so knowledgeable it hurts. In fact so much information is crammed into his cranium he sees the world like the matrix, all binary code an brilliant green lights. Mr Opinionated will always have a come back to every comment and suggestion for improvement. The result is that every critique session becomes an argument about why he did suchandsuch or why he didn’t write it that way.
Naturally you are the master of your own story and are in charge of conception to editing. Saying that it won’t be fun when they gey dropped for looking over the shoulder of an editor or agent.
.7. The Nitpicker.
She loves her details this one. Focuses on the little details so much at the expense of the exclusion of the things that really matter. Should you call it a “hex” or a “curse”? Discuss.
All of this, when what you really need to know is, has the intruder left or is he still hiding under the stairs!
The critiqur was malicious and said something about Mrs Sulks manuscript that was full of ill intent. After reading her work she recedes back into the shadowy corners,sullenly drinking tea and foregoing any comments regarding anyone elses work.
We have all had a comment that jars and hits us emotionally. After all we are pouring our heart and soul out onto paper here. But Mrs S ALWAYS reacts with sullen silence to any kind of criticism and alway wants praise. Grow up please!
.9. The Gaffa.
This one is the Alpha male of the group. He always knows what’s best for your story including a pivotal svene scene, how the story should begin and even end. Oh and he also knows who and where you should approach to submit your manuscript. Knowledge is power they say and whilst helpful suggestions are appreciated,advice rather than orders is the best approach.
So there you have it, the nine types of writing group members or critique partners that you find in writers groups.
Writing groups are important, if your a Lone Ranger that’s fine, but sometimes you need kindred souls to help with your endeavors.
Luckily the writing groups I attend have the right balance. We are bold enough to critique and brave enough to recieve opinions. We praise where appropriate if not sometimes overly praise, but we are working on that. After all it is a tough climate out there. Above all we listen to everyone’s opinions and make sure everyone is equal. Its a fantastic group but I didn’t get it right first time.
Now I have to hold my hand up at this point. I have been one or more of these characters at some juncture in my writing life. But Self awareness has changed all that. If your group isn’t working for you, change it or move on. Writing is precious.
Neil Sehmbhy is a budding young author from a little town that calls itself a city and changes everyday. Author of the forthcoming Corporation, Jinx and Sunder novels he loves reading , writing and cheese toasties. Follow him on twitter @NeilSehmbhy