Author Topic: Seeking a SciFi and Fantasy Writing Group with active members, firm deadlines  (Read 2071 times)

Jason R. Peters

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Fellow writers,

I am an amateur (thus far) novelist and short story writer seeking an active and dedicated writing group for consistent feedback. (Read: I am NOT content to have a half-arsed writing career and I want people to rip my work to shreds until I learn my lessons and get it right.)

I have recently finished first draft of a ~50k novel which needs a lot of improvement. I regularly write short stories and a few other projects, each of varying (in my opinion) quality. I have several other projects on the horizon, including non-fiction.

I'm located in Hillsborough, NC (Chapel Hill area) if there is any chance of a real-life such group; I expect that's unlikely, so a digital group works fine.

What matters most to me is that the group I join be active and involved. I've joined a few online writing groups and they lasted for about 3 internal submissions before crumbling off into the nether. If there's an existing group with an established record of submissions and feedback which wouldn't mind having me, I'm all in.

I need experience submitting on firm deadlines and having experienced critics offer suggestions. I am plenty critical myself, so I'm best suited for a group that values honesty over political correctness. My own critique takes the form of "this was my experience when reading this" rather than "this is what you should do instead"; description rather than prescription.

I am dead serious about developing my writing into a real career, and I want to interact with others who feel the same. This is NOT a hobby.

Please reply to this if interested or email [email protected].

Thanks in advance for considering.


fireflyz

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There is a writing group called reading excuses on this forum.  They allow new postings once a week.  Feedback is consistent, but small.  I'd say 2-5 responses seems to be par for the course.  If you're looking for more than that, good luck.  The holy grail is a group of ten to fifteen people who are experts just waiting to read your work and only your work.  In practice everyone wants thier work to be read and most don't have the time to read a dozen 5k chapters while working on thier own in thier busy lives.  The group on here seems to offer honest, good critiques.
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Silk

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Reading Excuses has been going for nearly two years now, and I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. Like Fireflyz said, the number of critiques you'll get each week will probably be fairly small--2-5 is a pretty good ballpark--but it will be consistent. And yes, people here are very good about giving honest and thoughtful critiques.

The one area in which I'm not sure this group is for you is the "firm deadlines" bit. Submission dates are every Monday, which means that we do have deadlines of a sort, but you choose what weeks you want to submit and there's no minimum participation, so there aren't any consequences for not making a particular deadline (aside from the occasional person making fun of you if you didn't submit when you said you would. But nicely, of course).

Feel free to hop down to the Reading Excuses forum, though, if you want to see what we're all about.

Ottilie

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This seems like something I would love to get involved with, but I'm concerned about idea theft. *hugs tin-foil hat over head*

Is that a valid concern, or am I being paranoid?
- Chloe Unrau

fireflyz

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The way it works is that you ask to join, provide an email account, and the submissions are sent via email.  Comments are posted to the forum, but not actual content.  As far as idea theft goes, that could potentially happen, but is doubtful.  If your novel is 120k words long and you submit 5k words a week, that's still months that someone would have to wait to have your novel.  That's provided you submit every week.  Also, if someone has to steal your novel, I doubt they'd have the skill to pull it off.  It's a valid concern, but ideas are cheap.  I could tell someone all the nitty gritty details about ideas behind a novel I'm working on and they still wouldn't write what I would because everyone's different.  Ultimately, the choice is up to you.
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Silk

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Wholesale plagiarism through a group like ours would, as Fireflyz points out, be pretty impractical. And generally speaking, it's not nearly the problem/threat/whatever that many people believe it to be.

Ottilie

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Thanks for the info :) I think after the holiday chaos is over I just might join :)
- Chloe Unrau

Jason R. Peters

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First, thanks for the replies. I didn't see them for a long time because TWG went down shortly after I posted. (And the times before that I checked, there were zero replies.)

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There is a writing group called reading excuses on this forum.

So the forum called "Writing Group" is the wrong place to find a...er...writing group?

Looking at the Reading Group forum now.

EDIT

(Ok, to their credit they admitted that's confusing.) Have now looked, and while it may be of some help (and way better than nothing), it is certainly not what I'm looking for.

Quote
The holy grail is a group of ten to fifteen people who are experts just waiting to read your work and only your work.  In practice everyone wants thier work to be read and most don't have the time to read a dozen 5k chapters while working on thier own in thier busy lives. 

This isn't my holy grail at all; in fact, I would balk at joining such a group because I cannot possibly read 15 manuscripts per week.

I would be much happier with a group or 3 or 4, because I could read that many manuscripts per week myself. I am not expecting critiques as some form of strange online charity, by rather in exchange for my own.

The Reading Excuses Group seems like a good way to get feedback, but it seems like feedback for a particular individual could be pretty few-and-far between because the group is so large. I'm looking for a more intimate group with more consistent submissions for every individual. I don't want to be halfway through the novel before learning that my supporting character doesn't work and has to be deleted. (Obviously this happens anyway, but that isn't my point.)

I guess I'm looking for a group much like the RE group started: A group of people exchanging manuscripts by email, but with no intentions of ever getting so large, and with more intention of consistently submitting for all members.

I did have one individual contact me by email, and she is now reviewing my work (though she is on a writing hiatus herself). My thanks to her, I'd love if others were interested as well. Since she is stay-at-home-mom and I work full time, my submission days are Monday, hers Friday, which optimizes both of our times to both read and write around the other person's schedule.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2011, 04:39:50 PM by Jason R. Peters »

Peter Ahlstrom

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Our writing group (Brandon's writing group) has up to 12 people, but a max of four submissions per week. Some are only readers, and some writers alternate weeks, and some submit only occasionally.

A writing group is difficult to start. Writing Excuses has done some podcasts on it.
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fireflyz

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I think writing groups are good for beginning writers and for established writers looking to hone the first chapters of their novels.  Honestly, if you've written anything over 120k then the process will be too slow.  A chapter a week will take a year.  Alternately, if you're only writing a chapter a week, that might work, but as I alluded to, it will take a year to write the book. 

It sounds to me like you might be more interested in finding a few alpha readers or even beta readers.  I have three individuals who read my revised first draft when I finish it.  This has the added benefit in that I know the individuals likes/dislikes and their reading background which helps me see where they are coming from in their feedback.  Also, getting feedback on an entire book in a week or two is very helpful as opposed to waiting a year.

I definitely think writing groups have thier place, but I think alpha and beta readers play a more important role in refining a novel.
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dhalagirl

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I've got to agree with fireflyz, but if you're still wanting to be in a writing group I'm the moderator for my group.  We submit through e-mail once a month and send critiques to each other the same way.  Including myself there's three active members and one part time member.  We've been doing this for about 7 months without any problems.  We try to keep submissions under 10K and we're all writing various flavors of sci-fi and fantasy, both adult and YA.

Silk

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So the forum called "Writing Group" is the wrong place to find a...er...writing group?


Nah, you looked in the right place. Reading Excuses is a particular writing group, and some of TWG's writer types are members, so I think it's become something of a default recommendation.


The Reading Excuses Group seems like a good way to get feedback, but it seems like feedback for a particular individual could be pretty few-and-far between because the group is so large. I'm looking for a more intimate group with more consistent submissions for every individual.



In a lot of ways the group isn't as large as it looks. We generally only have maybe six to twelve people active at one time, and we cap submissions at six a week (and in the two and a half years we've been running, we've only hit that ceiling once). I think most people get fairly consistent feedback--my completely unscientific guess would be that people get in the range of 2-5 critiques per submission.  And most people who want to are able to submit weekly.

We still may not be right for you,  but that information might help.

Fireflyz and dhalgirl:  I think writing groups are also well-suited to short stories. I think novels work too if you're one of those people who doesn't mind getting feedback as you write. Also, I suspect RE's process is a little slower than most because of our higher member count. But yes, there's a reason I'm not trying to feed my finished novel draft through the group, absolutely. Well, that's one reason. ::)

Peter Ahlstrom

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Our writing group almost always does finished or close to finished novels. (And with Brandon that can mean over 300,00 words.) The writer is usually working on a different book at the time. But if deadlines are looming we speed things up and do more than one chapter per week.
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Jason R. Peters

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Thanks again for all the responses. The Reading Excuses group does sound like more consistent feedback is available than I had imagined, given the size of the group.

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It sounds to me like you might be more interested in finding a few alpha readers or even beta readers.

I actually have a solid group of alpha readers. I usually submit my work to 10-12 readers, but my current novel is being circulated to ~40 because word-of-mouth among friends/family/co-workers is generating more interest. From those, I only get worthwhile feedback from 3-8 individuals. But all except Christi are not writers, and so they are giving me reader-viewpoint feedback only. A good portion is just positive ("I was hooked"), which I'm needy enough to require, but doesn't help me improve the work.

Nothing wrong with that, and it has helped me a great deal, but it would be nice to have more writers along to give more critical feedback.

I suppose I could now re-characterize this ad:

Existing Writing Group of two seeks one or two additional members.

Presently, I submit 2-3 chapters/week and Christi responds in 2-3 days. She is also planning to submit weekly, and I could easily respond weekly to 2-4 submissions. I don't know the size of Christi's intended submissions or yours, so if you'd like to join, that part is open to your feedback.

EDIT: If interested, feel free to fire an email to [email protected] with what you'd like or envision such a group to be.