How we started
A few of us began Creative Writing classes twenty years ago and then set up our own sessions to continue working together, so we have experience of formal tuition and intuition – when something’s right, even if it defies ‘the rules’.
We back one another, exchange ideas and are always careful to spot plagiarism and protect the writer. Criticism – such a negative sounding word – is constructive, turning the experience positive and given to help the writer tell and grow the story. And we’ve had successes. Each writer’s bio will reveal competitions won, stories sold, books published. These glorious moments of success are all the sweeter for sharing them among people who know how hard-won they are.
Why Should You Consider Joining?
To quote Bridget Jones …
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that …’
Oh – you thought that was Jane Austen? Yes, she got there first, but author Helen Fielding added her own twist and the rest is novel-writing history.
It’s snippets like that we often hear at a meeting, something to make you see things in a different light, broadening the skills of your own writing. Someone was despairing that their story had cropped up in a newly released novel by an established author then it was gently pointed out that there are in fact, depending on who you choose to believe, three, six, seven, twenty or thirty-six, basic plots. You could probably construct a reasonable thesis on forty-one if you tried hard enough. So whether yours is rags to riches, man in a hole or Cinderella, a writer has been there before you.
But when you offer your precious work for critiquing at a group, someone will point out the turn of phrase which is yours and yours alone, making them see it as not just a rewrite of an old story, but a fresh take on it. Your personal perspective will inform the nuances of the way you tell it.
If you’re at a turning point and unsure where to direct the narrative, it’s a real help to hear the different points of view offered.
-‘I think she should return to her husband.’
-‘I think she should tell her husband the truth.’
-‘I think she should tell her husband to take a running jump.’
They’re probably all options you’ve considered but somehow, hearing them from someone else, the obvious one will jump out at you. Sometimes of course, there’ll be a consensus for option 1 and you’ll decide on option 3 because as the author you’ll know something they don’t (yet). It cements your plotline in your story and off you go.
And it’s just good to spend time in the company of others familiar with the dark despair of the writer’s lonely attic. It may be only a corner of the kitchen table where you can plonk your laptop but it’s still lonely and it feels like the rest of the world is out there, constructing witty prose into devilish plots. Talking to other writers rewards you with the warmth of a problem shared and consequently halved.
With a truly great group, you’ll also be offered the suggestion that your hero is a snake (and you’d seen him as just a hero) or that, if you simply eliminate the last sentence in your chapter you’ll crank up the tension much more successfully, creating a real page-turner.
Which after all, is the point of writing isn’t it?
Jill Anabona Smith