We had another good meeting on the 3rd of March! I want to thank all those who braved the cold to come out. Especially, Kris, who resorted to 'determined' effort to make it at all. Everyone was thrilled to see her when she came in the door after eight o'clock. Talk about spirit! Irv immediately told her he loved her. :) And we all do!
Most got a turn to read and lively discussion followed. I received lots of positive feed back, but do understand that a couple of folks felt I'd been unfair on the reading time issue. I assure everyone, it is never my intent to be unfair. This 'time issue' seems to be an ongoing problem that must be solved. There were a total of three people that never did get their turn to read on Wednesday night. I won't embarrass them by naming names, but three people who'd been previously promised by me they'd be able to read didn't get to because some balk at going first! Once they see that time is running out and folks are getting restless, then they signal me they'll abstain.
Now, this is happening when we have a small turnout of 12-15. What about when the weather improves and we have longer daylight hours and 20-25 turn out? What? Those that don't get a turn, won't come? What?
As group leader, this puts me in a most precarious position as I want everyone to come, get something out of the meeting, and also have sessions that are just about learning! That's what a writing group is all about. Writers helping writers! It's not just a stage or theater for each to perform. To me, you are ALL stars already and it's my job to make it work! Work, even though we continually grow and add members.
Here, is but one of the areas where I depend on Russ and Sharon. I want concensus. It's not about 'my way' but the group's way! So I've enlisted their help and opinions and we've reached agreement. Poets are not subject to these strident guidelines because most never read more than three poems anyway and that is equal to maybe a page. Russ is the most concise and to the point so he agreed to write up the solution. As follows . . .
We will set a page limit rather than a time limit. Doing this will also provide each writer the discipline to 'select' the section he or she is going to read with that page limit in mind. This can be three pages of double-spaced, proper manuscript set up. If single spaced, it will be a page and one-half. This will entail thinking of the piece more as a complete 'scene' or 'mini-story' in itself. You would be allowed an oral introduction to set up the 'scene' so it will be understood, not a rambling, five-minute preliminary explanation.
This is in keeping with the idea that every word, sentence, paragraph and page of any piece of writing, fiction or non, long or short, should be absolutely essential to the overall piece. It should serve a specific purpose to the story, or not be included in the story. The writer should be able to explain, at least to him/herself why that particular scene is in the story or article at that particular place.
Thank you, Russ! In the business, such a procedure is often referred to as the 'elevator pitch'. Meaning a writer should be able to say what his/her entire book is about in no more words than a ride to the ninth floor on a elevator would take! Google 'elevator pitch' and you'll see. That's how well you should know your own work.
If you want to have chapter by chapter input, it isn't necessary to have each detail and thought, each line of dialogue read to an audience of listeners. Orally explain in a minute or less, what the scene is taken from and then read the part you may be struggling with. End it by saying what decision is giving you difficulty and then commentors, too, have to be somewhat brief. Not everyone can comment every time, and it isn't the time to break off into a long discussion, explanation or defense about the commentor's comment. That can be done privately if there seems to be an issue unsolved. I might add here, that a writer needs to develop a thick skin. If one can't take constructive criticism, one won't make it as a writer. Why else would one even ask for critique? Well-intended criticism is not disdain for your work and NOT rejection. Although, you'll take a lot of that, too.
This seems to be the only logical way to solve this problem to everyone's advantage. This procedure holds at the first monthly "Reading Meeting" only. The second General Meeting will be part workshop or discussion, questions and anwsers, an occasional guest speaker, and three or four pre-selected readers only. It is about learning, too!
We will be incorporating Ed's idea of discussing one or two words in a sentence to launch each meeting. If you decide to write a sentence containing a subject and a verb using these words, put it in the suggestion box upon arrival and we will randomly draw out about five, share them, and then move on. For the next meeting, Russ picked two words that sound alike but aren't spelled the same or mean the same. They are: MORNING and MOURNING.
Russ will pick the next person to pick the words and so on.
If anyone has a better idea or a complaint about this procedure, please feel free to share it with Russ, Sharon, or me. But something HAS to be adopted and enforced or we have continual hurt feelings and chaos. I don't want that and the group doesn't want that.
Now, I'll give you a day or two to absorb this new info and then I'll tell you my very exciting surprise news! Yup, that's a 'hook'. Every writer must know how to do the HOOK.
Till Monday . . . .
Susan, Russ and Sharon thank you.
Schedule and Location
Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Nokomis Fire Station, located just a few blocks south of Albee Road (where Matthews-Currie Ford is located) at Pavonia Road. We are on the west, or bay side, of U.S. 41, by the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are just north of Dona Bay. Turn on Pavonia and pull to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room on the far side of the complex. Gathering time: 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten minute break: 8:00 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm