Saturday, June 07, 2008

Learning how to write

By Keith Fisher

Are you part of a critique group? Several months ago I wrote about my dreams for a group that would meet once a week and help each other write correctly. After the LDStorymakers conference, I became part of one that exceeds my dreams. It’s great to get together with other writers who understand, but I discovered an added benefit I hadn’t planned on.

We patterned our group after the example we saw at the conference. The group that J. Scott Savage affectionately calls “The Ladies of Wednesday Night”. When we meet, we bring a copy of what we’re working on for each member. We mark each other’s manuscripts as the author reads it, then we discuss why we marked it.

I was editing today and discovered several places that needed changing. I knew this because members of my group have drilled it into my head. I went ahead and made the changes in my manuscript. Then I began to pore over the marked suggestions from the group, and found I had already changed most of the mistakes.

It’s obvious my group is helping me. I hear their voices when I’m writing, and I fix the bad sentence before it appears on my blog. I’m learning how to write, but more importantly, I have a group of friends who care about each other. When one of us is going through a problem, everyone is there to help.

Have you found a group yet? In our group, we have two published authors who lend experience. We have a beginner, but you’d never know it because of talent. Two of us are on the verge of greatness, and then there is me. In honor of President Hinckley and his ‘B’s, I listed a few of my own below.

Be humble—accept the fact you might be wrong. Be helpful—make helpful suggestions. Be open-minded—not everyone writes the way you do. Be quiet—don’t try to re-write their book the way you would write it. Be yourself—remember you are the only one who decides how your book is written. If you don’t agree with a suggestion, you don’t have to follow it. However, keep the first ‘B’ in mind.

Good luck in your writing—see you next week

6 comments:

Annette Lyon said...

Keith, This is terrific! I'm so glad our workshop was helpful. It sounds like you found a great group.

Hearing members' voices in your head as you draft is something I experience all the time now (Things like, "Oh, no--I'd better change that. Lu Ann will be all over me if I don't.")

It's a great effect of having a group, especially if members have different strengths.

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli said...

Hey! I'm not that scary, am I? In any case, I worry constantly about commas because Annette will catch me every time. In any case, glad you found a great critique group, Keith, and that you are sensing your own improvement along the way. That's what it is all about, making our manuscripts the best they can be.

Annette Lyon said...

Of course not, Lu Ann! I could have just as easily put Jeff or Michele or Heather or anyone else in the group. :) Although I think I DO hear your voice more when I draft than the others' . . .

Kim Thompson said...

I love your list of Be's. YOU are a very gifted storyteller, and without you, our group wouldn't be the same. Thanks for letting me (the beginner) be a part of something so sensational.

Keith Fisher said...

In our group I hear Tristi saying take out the was 's wasi wasi wassss--was. I will forever be gratful to her. thanks Ladies for your comments. and for your example. I have been looking to start a group like the Ladies of Wednesday night and your example inspired me. but not just me I think everyone that was in the class has started a group. Good job. as For Kim. You are an inspiration to me and all of us.

Noble M Standing said...

I HAD a great group in Tooele, we met every week and we helped each other with our works. I miss them so much. Now I live in Castle Dale and there is nothing. We tried a local group but we are too diferent, it doesn't work. I guess I'll have to be my own writers group.
Michelle