Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Writers' groups - pros and cons for novelists

Typically, regardless of the structure of your writing group, novelists are most times at a disadvantage.  And for obvious reasons.

But do I still feel attending a writers' group is beneficial?  Absolutely, I do.  Let's explore.

The most obvious reason is because on a typical night, all a novelist will be able to read is one chapter.  Even if you met once a week, it could still be over a year before the entire group hears the complete novel. And with Permanent Ink--the writers' group I attend--we meet roughly 17 times in a year.  At that rate, with 62 chapters to the thriller I'm currently editing, that would be three and a half years!  Yikes!  Even if all members showed up at each meeting, they might not remember what happened from one meeting to the next.

Some writers' groups, who feature novelists, focus on one reader a night and they share four or five chapters.  Others present their writing ahead of time and it's up to the other members to read the given material.  Do whatever works best.

Novelists are writers and I truly believe everyone benefits from others' input.  Even if you don't read every single chapter, take a chapter you're having problems with or excerpts of it.  Or, heck, even read what you think are the best parts.

Overall, the pros definitely outweight the cons when it comes to novelists.  Even if you're writing a Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson-esque fantasy epic, it still works--because it has for me.  And with my writers' group, there are three of us who write novels.

A final note: the novelists could give their entire novel, or chunks of it, to the others to read ahead of time, giving them adequate time to read it.  That way, their novel could be read at one time, rather than spread out.  Just a thought.  Try anything.

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