The value of writer’s groups

Earlier, I posted about The value of critiquing the work of others. Two weeks ago, it was my turn in the barrel. The South Pittsburgh Writer’s Group critiqued the first two chapters of my WIP, Sins of Omission. I got some attaboys–“Thanks for the correct punctuation,” and “An interesting story that I will buy when it comes out”–but also nearly a dozen suggestions.

Three members returned my Word draft with typed comments, questions, and suggestions in the margins. It was very helpful and showed me several things that they could see, bringing fresh eyes to the work, but that I could not.

I wasn’t able to make changes immediately–I had two direct mail projects to complete–but the delay allowed me to process the suggestions in my mind, separating the wheat from the chaff. Given two weeks in which to reflect on the advice, I made substantial edits over the past few days to structure, word choice, and characterization, plus a slew of minor edits. The results are a much improved opening and a more clearly defined secondary character.

Many writers come to such sessions looking for praise rather than direction. I’ll have more to say on that in a subsequent post.

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