Getting the Most from Your Writing Group
Some people swear by writing groups, some people swear at them. I have mixed feelings.
Several years ago, one of my short stories, Victims, earned a third place prize in a national contest for legal fiction and subsequently was published in Hardboiled magazine. It was a good story, made better by suggestions from members of a writing group at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky.
Despite that success, though, I’ve stayed away from writing groups ever since. My last few books have been non-fiction about Thoroughbred racing, and I haven’t found a writing group that is a good fit for what I need. My ideal writing group would have these people:
A racing historian—my books rely on extensive research, and the facts have to be right. I think I’m a pretty good researcher, but I still miss things from time to time. I’d rather find out about factual errors before a book is released, rather than after.
A horse racing aficionado—the core audience for my non-fiction books is fans of Thoroughbred racing. The books have to be factually accurate, but the writing also has to ring true for these readers. I’ve covered racing for decades as a journalist and a photographer, and I know my way around a race track. But a second opinion is always helpful.
A good editor—glaring errors in punctuation and grammar are the kiss of death for a book or magazine query, or for a completed manuscript. Editing your own writing always is difficult, and a good technical editor is invaluable.
A fiction writer—story is important, even for non-fiction, and I want my readers to come away thinking that they learned something new, and that they enjoyed the process. I always learn something about crafting a compelling story from people who write good fiction.
What are your writing goals for 2013? Who would be in your ideal writing group?