What we're about

We are a group dedicated to writing, finishing, and publishing a novel, memoir, or short story. We critique each others' work and serve as a support group for helping writers plot, organize, and publish their writing. We meet at the San Rafael and the Silver Lake Library. The format goes like this: At 9:30 or 10 a.m., the library opens. There is a 10-15 min chat on the day's subject. At 10:15 or 10:45, we begin the critiques.

The submission format is as follows:

(1) submit up to 10 pages, double-spaced

(2) use 1" margins all around;

(3) use 12-point Times New Roman or Courier font

(4) save files in MS Word format. PDFs okay. (5) number the pages

(6) be sure that the book's title and your name are the header.

(7) give your file name this format: FirstnameLastname-TitleOfBook-Genre-DateOfCritique.docx

If you are in the middle of the story, please write a single-spaced introductory paragraph or two outlining major plot points so far and the theme of the work. Include short bios for two or three major characters.

Submissions are due at 11:59 p.m. on the Sunday before we meet. Email them to pasadenawriters@gmail.com, and put "Submission" in the subject line. You will receive instructions on how to download submissions for your reading and critique.

We divide the critique time by the number of submissions so that all writers get equal time.

We finish up around 12 or 12:30pm.

Upcoming events (5)

Writing Prompts to Get Ideas Flowing

Online event

(This is a 10-page/30-page critique session. Details are at the end of the post.) This meeting will be conducted online. We will email a link to the participants for a Zoom chat before the meeting takes place. Often times, it helps to change gears and write a quick vignette or story to get your creative juices flowing. At this meetup, Gabi will present several writing prompts from various sources, and the group will participate in a quick 10-minute writing session, too. Sharing is optional (but encouraged) once we are done with the exercise. To have a 10-page work critiqued, please submit it no later than Sunday, May 31 at 9:00 pm. For 30-page manuscripts, please submit one week earlier by Sunday, May 24 at 9:00 pm. 1. Prepare your manuscript to conform to these submission guidelines: http://www.lawriterscritiquegroup.com/submission-guidelines/ 2. Email your excerpt to: [masked] If your submission does not start at the beginning of the story, please include a summary of the work up until the point where your excerpt begins. To put it another way, if your submission begins from the first page of the story, a summary is not necessary. This summary will not count toward the manuscript total. If your work contains graphic scenes or language that may be deemed offensive, please mention that in the submission email so we may group those works together.

Focus on Strengths or Shore Up Weaknesses? Maximize Efficiency, Minimize Faults

Focus on Strengths or Shore Up Weaknesses? Maximizing Efficiency While Minimizing Faults (To have your 10-page work critiqued at the June 13 meeting, please submit your piece no later than Sunday, June 7 at 11:59 pm. Detailed information for submitting manuscripts are at the end of this post.) Do you find yourself banging your head against the wall as you struggle to construct an airtight plot, when all you really want to do is craft richly-textured worlds? Does the thought of making dialogue dripping with subtext give you a migraine, whereas the idea of developing an intricate story can fuel an all-night writing session? Are you putting off working on your novel because you can’t quite get the descriptions right, yet filling up a notebook with page after page of snappy one-liners? Though it’s important to write competently in all areas (scene construction, character descriptions, dialogue, etc.), it’s also vital to recognize that you don’t have to be perfect at everything in order to create an engaging, memorable, or enjoyable story. If you take a hard look at some of your favorite books or movies, you’ll find that they don’t do everything right. In fact, there may be a few things they do very, very wrong. But the things that are done well stand out, and make up for the flaws. Join us for a talk on how to use a recognition of your strengths and weaknesses as a tool in itself. Stay for a critique of member-submitted manuscripts. Much of the talk will draw upon the ideas found in Becca Syme’s "Dear Writer" series. It’s a great resource on the practical side of writing, such as preventing burnout, improving productivity, and, of course, playing to your strengths. Her books are only $5 for the Kindle versions, so check them out if you’re interested. Additionally, Syme herself bases her discussion of this topic on her experience as a Cliftons Strengths-certified coach, so you may want to look into that framework as well. This meeting will be conducted through Zoom. It will also be password-protected to guard against Zoom bombing and other mishaps. The meeting link, meeting code, and password will be sent out via email a few days before the meeting. To have your 10-page work critiqued at the June 13 meeting, please submit your piece no later than Sunday, June 7 at 11:59 pm. To participate, please do the following: 1. Prepare your manuscript to conform to these submission guidelines: http://www.lawriterscritiquegroup.com/submission-guidelines/ 2. Email your excerpt to: [masked] If your submission does not start at the beginning of the story, please include a summary of the work up until the point where your excerpt begins. To put it another way, if your submission begins from the first page of the story, a summary is not necessary. This summary will not count toward the manuscript total. If your work contains graphic scenes or language that may be deemed offensive, please mention that in the submission email so that we may warn readers.

Overcome Analysis Paralysis and Enjoy the Writing Process

(This is a 10-page/30-page critique session. Details are at the end of the post.) Our group usually meets on the first Saturday of the month, but for July, we will meet on the second Saturday because the first Saturday is July 4. This meeting will be conducted online unless the San Rafael Library has opened by this date. We will email a link to the participants for a Zoom chat before the meeting takes place. There are umpteen books about the practice of writing, at least a zillion writing exercises that you can do to improve your writing, and more advice about the practice of writing circulating through the Internet that you could consume in your lifetime. Information overload can easily lead to writer's block. That's why it's important to learn how to sift through and find what works for you. Take what you like, and ditch the rest. In other words, make yourself happy. Here's an ironic quote from, you guessed it, a writer: "Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify." -Henry David Thoreau To have a 10-page work critiqued, please submit it no later than Sunday, July 5 at 9:00 pm. For 30-page manuscripts, please submit one week earlier by Sunday, June 28 at 9:00 pm. 1. Prepare your manuscript to conform to these submission guidelines: http://www.lawriterscritiquegroup.com/submission-guidelines/ 2. Email your excerpt to: [masked] If your submission does not start at the beginning of the story, please include a summary of the work up until the point where your excerpt begins. To put it another way, if your submission begins from the first page of the story, a summary is not necessary. This summary will not count toward the manuscript total.

Mirror Characters: Personifying the Stakes for the Protagonist

Mirror Characters: Personifying the Stakes for the Protagonist (To have your 10-page work critiqued at the July 18 meeting, please submit your piece no later than Sunday, July 12 at 11:59 pm. Detailed information for submitting manuscripts are at the end of this post.) If your main character doesn’t achieve their objective, what’s the consequence? Answer that question, and you’ll understand the “stakes.” But simply naming what’s at stake is not always enough. As the rule states, “show, don’t tell.” One way to illustrate the consequences of failing to achieve (or even succeeding at) the story goal is to create a “mirror character.” There’s a fantastic moment in the seventh Star Wars film, “The Force Awakens.” Early on in the movie, we get to know Rey as someone struggling to make ends meet on the desert planet of Jakku. She earns a living collecting scrap from (space)ship-wrecks and selling them in town. We understand that Rey wants to get off this wasteland of a planet, but we don’t really appreciate the magnitude of the stakes until we see what Rey could become: a lonely old woman, continuing to scour the graveyards of ships for junk and selling it for a pittance. In just a few seconds, the audience has felt the weight of Rey’s goal… and what lies in store for her if she cannot attain it. Join us for a talk on how you can personify the stakes by creating mirror characters. Stay for a critique of member-submitted stories. For those interested in reading more about the concept of "mirror characters" in advance, please take a look at Brian McDonald's book, "Invisible Ink." This meeting will be conducted through Zoom. It will also be password-protected to guard against Zoom bombing and other mishaps. The meeting link, meeting code, and password will be sent out via email a few days before the meeting. To have your 10-page work critiqued at the July 18 meeting, please submit your piece no later than Sunday, July 12 at 11:59 pm. To participate, please do the following: 1. Prepare your manuscript to conform to these submission guidelines: http://www.lawriterscritiquegroup.com/submission-guidelines/ 2. Email your excerpt to: [masked] If your submission does not start at the beginning of the story, please include a summary of the work up until the point where your excerpt begins. To put it another way, if your submission begins from the first page of the story, a summary is not necessary. This summary will not count toward the manuscript total. If your work contains graphic scenes or language that may be deemed offensive, please mention that in the submission email so that we may warn readers.

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