Monday, June 8, 2009

Writing Groups

It's been awhile since I've blogged, because I've been doing what I was supposed to be doing: writing.

I was re-writing a story that the picture book group I belong to critiqued just before Christmas. Members of the group write for readers under nine: picture books, stories for children's magazines, and poems for children. (Some of us write for other ages as well, but that's another matter.)

Originally I had envisioned the story as a picture book. During the December critique, it became clear that there was no story arc and the character wasn't clearly developed. For awhile, I just left it on the back burner of my mind to simmer, and I went on with the collection I recently sent out. When I returned to re-write the story for a coming meeting, it had transformed: The main character was different. The story problem was different. The context of the original story remained, but with a new slant, due to the new character and plot.

This is the way writing happens, even when you work alone: You leave a story for awhile in order to resolve a problem; all kinds of things happen behind your back. A good writing group enhances this process, though, simply because of the old adage that "two heads are better than one". (Make that six heads.) They see what you fail to see. They catch what you fail to catch. Their questions clarify places where what was in your head never made it to the page.

I can't say enough for writing groups, particularly when the members write for the same age group as your target audience. There are probably still glitches in the story that will surface at our next meeting. But each re-write brings it closer and closer to the finish line.

And, oh, what a great feeling it is, when you finally finish a story!

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