"What you're providing the reader with is the score, the score that the reader will then interpret. And all you can do as the writer is make your book as good as it can be, throw it out into the world, hope for the best, and that's all you can do. You cannot dictate to the reader how they should read your book or receive your book, because the meaning of a book once it's out in the world is not decided by the writer anymore. Even if the writer thought the writer was putting X meaning into the book, the reader may have quite a different idea, and usually does over time."
We haven't got a clue how anybody else except us perceives our writing--and our perception is pretty skewed, because we're the ones who dreamed it up. Will other people have the reaction to it that you think they will? This is why writers' groups exist. They give you the chance to fix the stuff that isn't helping your reader perceive your writing the way you meant for him to.
This group is intended for those who are writing (or have completed writing) a novel, and are motivated to revise, polish, and edit it prior to submitting it to a publisher or self-publishing it. The two charter members have either self-published books that are selling, or worked with a publishing house to produce a finished book. This is the perfect group for indie authors who have trouble finding or affording a professional editor, for new authors who need lots of objective feedback to identify structural problems in their work, and for established authors who want their work to be the best it can be before it gets that final editing pass from a pro.
Members will be expected to work hard on critiquing and editing other peoples' work in exchange for having the same done for their own. Meetings occur weekly, so this is a faster-paced group than most others in the area. If you're ready to "kill all your darlings," and help others make their work the best it can be, check us out!
Just come on over to the table and introduce yourself, to get started. We'll fill you in on how the group works, and you can see what we do and decide if this is the right group for you. You don't need to bring anything to your first meeting. Please plan to bring pages with you to subsequent meetings to be handed out and read at home for the next meeting. Please submit no more than ten pages at one time.
1.) Please be sure to use the RSVP feature every week. This is so that members who have pages to submit will know how many copies of their work they need to bring to hand out. If you do not RSVP, you may not get pages to read for that week. Also, in the case of inclement weather in the wintertime, it will be easy to see who is and isn't snowed in, and make a decision to cancel the meeting, if need be.
2.) This group has a VERY large contingent of people who sign up and then don't come. To avoid paying for an unlimited membership to sign up 100 people who don't come to the meetings, if we haven't seen you in two months, we will delete your name to make room for others. You may rejoin if you wish.
3.) While some small talk is allowable and even helpful, we may have to rule this out at a future date if we have too many members and too much trouble getting through all the critiques in a timely manner. (We do tend to sit and visit after the meetings.)
4.) Excessive negative remarks or personal attacks will cause a person to be asked to leave the group. There is a difference between offering your honest reaction, and offering it with scorn and contempt. We've had to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on this.
5.) This group is here to get your work ready to be evaluated by a professional. Therefore, we're here to pick out the problems, so if you're here asking our opinions, that is what we will do. However, any evaluation of your writing is just one person's opinion; it isn't, nor is it meant to be, a personal attack. Childish behavior, such as calling any member a four-letter word, bragging, acting as if you are "better" than everyone else, starting or maintaining an argument, not knowing how to share the floor, or throwing inanimate objects will not be tolerated. If you cannot accept someone else having a negative opinion about your work and still maintain adult control and decorum, you will be asked to leave. Sad to say we've had to adopt a zero-tolerance policy on this, too.
6.) That said, if you want praise and only praise for your work, or if you're positive that it doesn't need any changes, just go ahead and publish it on KDP. You don't need a critique group.
7.) We understand that writing is a very personal thing. We work hard on our stories, and when we hear criticism of what we've written, we all get upset. The goal is to go home, cool off, and THINK about what you've been told. Chances are you're hearing it for a good reason, but it may be that the other person is wrong. Ultimately, no one can decide what's best to do with your story but YOU.
8.) Try to share the floor. Due to time issues, members are asked to hold their comments during a critique of their work unless you are asked a question for clarification. It isn't necessary to rebut absolutely everything another person says, or try to prove you know more than others on every single topic. We all have areas in which we are strong, and areas in which we are weak. Nobody will think you are stupid if you don't have the right answer to every single question that comes up.
9.) Try not to talk over others, so all can share and be heard. Also, if a question or issue gets debated at length, it can tend to make the meeting run long, and discussions of this nature may need to be curtailed. Authors may ask questions and give general comments after all critiques of their work are done.
10.) A timer is brought to each meeting. So far we haven't had to use it, but in cases where there is a lot of work to go through and a lot of people are present to give feedback, it may become necessary to time each person's remarks to no more than 3-5 minutes. Hopefully this will never be necessary!
11.) Members may submit items for review each week, unless we find that we are getting so much material submitted that members are having trouble finishing it all in time for the next meeting. If that happens, we may have to limit the number of items each week, and draw names via a lottery system. (Fortunately, we haven't had to do this yet!) Again, please submit no more than ten pages at a time.
12.) Members who attend but do not critique others’ work while still submitting their own may be asked to leave, if this happens three times without extenuating circumstances as determined by the membership at large.
13.) Meetings are scheduled at Panera Bread at Chippenham and Midlothian, 11:30 AM each Sunday.
Alterations and additions to these rules may be suggested by any member, but may only be approved by Linda.