Writer’s Groups, Online Workshops and Self-Editing

I don’t know about you but one of the biggest problems I find with editing is getting somebody to read the damn thing, so the other night I went along to my local writer’s group to see if it was the answer to my dreams. A couple of friends I went to uni with had suggested Chuck Palahniuk’s (author of Fight Club and Choke) online workshop for cult writers which looks pretty good, plus there’s the writer’s workshop and the SFF online writing workshop (Science Fiction, fantasy and horror). There are also free ones, which I’ll be having a look at, such as Critique Circle. Honestly, there’s loads, just google it. At this stage in my career, if I can get advice for free, that’s what I’ll be doing.

I brought along a story I desperately want to get published. It seems if I can do a story in little over a day it gets somewhere, but the things I really love and work hard at I have trouble with. So I went along to the meeting place, a local pub, and joined the others.

Through the shouting of the locals at the bar I learned I would have to read my story aloud. Now, I had to do this during my creative writing course but it’s been a good few years, so as the reading circle drew ever closer I began to feel the palpitations reminiscent of the dreaded ‘your turn to hit the ball’ in P.E.

I began to forget myself, though, as I listened to other’s stories and poems. I get the same feeling when I’m painted in my job as a life model; however hippie this may sound I just like being in a creative environment, and the stories were good.

My palms were sweating when all eyes turned to me. I could hear the sound of my own voice rattling gratingly in my head but, as I continued, I grew in confidence and people began to laugh. It’s a comedy, so that was a good sign.

My only wish is that people gave more helpful comments, I’ve never liked it when people just say “that’s good” if it needs editing. However, on the walk home, I knew from hearing it aloud a few things that could be changed. Although having others read the thing on paper and make comments is invaluable, I think you also need to become ruthless. If you have to read a sentence twice, it needs changing. If you feel maybe there are too many words in a sentence, there probably are.

So, these are my thoughts on the matter, I hope they’re a tiny bit helpful. Good luck!

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4 thoughts on “Writer’s Groups, Online Workshops and Self-Editing

  1. I agree with you on getting somebody to read a piece of writing and provide meaningful comments. It sounds like you got some laughs for your comedy so that is good news. I always find that reading something out loud helps me to discover weak points.

  2. I read out loud all the time. You immediately know if a sentence is clunky, doesn’t have the right rhythm or is too long. I talk out loud whilst i”m writing as well, especially dialogue. Can’t imagine a writing group in a pub! Could be fun. I’ll be interested to read how you get on with your online groups.

  3. I’ll be posting my adventures with the online workshop as soon as I’ve gathered enough info. A pub isn’t really the ideal place for a writing group, unless maybe there’s a back room perhaps…

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