I belong to a writer’s group called, Just Write. A catchy name that means just what it says. Just write. As if that’s all there was to it. Well, sometimes it works like that, but often it does not. It depends on what I am writing. I have to find that special zone where I can place myself into the story as one of the characters. I have to play all of the parts to do it right. If I can close out the rest of the world for a short while, I can develop the world I am writing about. Sometimes, this is not easy.
Our writer’s group is a pretty casual bunch of folks. We are tolerant of just about anything. Each of us brings something to the weekly meeting to read and the other members offer their take on it, in a professional manner, of course. We don’t just look for what’s wrong, we also look for what’s right. Not just punctuation and grammar. Anyone can do that. The story line itself is discussed because that’s the heart of the writing. The author can build on the strengths and correct the weaknesses. I should know. These folks have found plenty of weaknesses in my work. Especially, one member who rakes me over the coals regularly.
When I brought what was near the last chapter of my novel about Vietnam, she slammed it with a fervor I have not seen. Well, she didn’t exactly slam it, but that’s the way I felt at the time. The premise was that just the mere story line about a helicopter pilot’s experiences in Vietnam left her high and dry by not examining the aftereffects of the year in Vietnam. And there I was, thinking I was nearly finished.
Well, I’m glad that person had the courage to say that, because I have written past the point of experiences in a war zone and opened a vision into how it affected the rest of that soldier’s life. I’m actually writing the real story, now. The one that is really important.
Critiques can be useful to a writer. Good critiques. The ones that make the writing better. It’s not easy to give a critique, especially if you don’t understand what the author is driving at. But that’s what the groups are for. When the writer becomes focused, that’s half the battle.
Thank goodness for this writer’s group. I would be lost without it.