About 18 months ago, I joined a local writer’s group. I was looking for a critique group, but figured any writer’s group would lead me to one. At the time, it was a weekly meeting and the emphasis of the group was strictly to do writing prompts. Members met at Starbucks, had coffee, and shared a new word they’d learned. The moderator then gave a topic and we spent 20 minutes writing. Afterward, we shared what we’d written and others in the group commented. About four months later, someone asked if we could meet on an additional, different day to critique already-written work. Several of us jumped at the chance. Within another three months, the original moderator left the group, and we began doing a critique at all meetings. In addition, or instead of, members can write to prompts and bring those. In any case, we all share critiques. The atmosphere is positive, friendly, and open.
Critique Groups Get Results
The group meets regularly, Tuesday for lunch at a different restaurant, and Saturday for coffee, and we do critiques of work we’re readying to publish. It’s produced some wonderful books, including Lisa Haman’s brilliant humorous noir, Mallow Mayhem. Imagine a world where marshmallow peeps rule. When a pink bunny goes missing, it’s up to yellow chick Philippa Marlowmellow to investigate. Lisa wrote this book with a nod to all the various kinds of peeps, without ever mentioning the candy or using its trademarked names. Click her cover to read a sample.
For the writer of science fiction, and the writer who wants to create a science fiction series, this volume teaches you how to build believable worlds, track details of your story, organize your writing, and lay out your story bible. Novice or experienced, you will pick up tricks and tips here. The Companion reveals the worldbuilding magic that makes the Tarthian Empire tick. I share 10k years of future history, offer peeks at scene and character creation, lay out a quick tour of the Empire, and dish up a surfeit of secrets for fans, all in one illustrated volume. The companion provides organizational tips, links to marketing sites, groups supporting writers, science fiction groups, and more. Material from my 90+ page website is included. Original art by Jamin Allen (and some by me).
It’s a good idea to have any book looked at by others before publishing it. When people put a checkmark next to a line because they like it, or tell you they got lost on a line, it helps. Better to have friends who tell you the truth about a scene and guide you to make it better, than to have reviewers tell you how badly you write. Once that book is out there, it’s out there.
A Location Critique
Is Starbucks an ideal location? On the plus side, most people drink coffee, and the site offers tea and water, plus other flavored drinks. There are healthy and not-so-healthy snacks, all made on site. Best yet, no one drops by the table to interrupt or ask if you want anything else. You can work without a hassle. [pq]Starbucks offers plugins for computers or phones, and wifi is free.[/pq] On the down side, it can be noisy when they grind beans, or the place is full. We’ve learned that when the grinder starts, it’s best just to wait a minute. We meet at different spots, and one swears the room temperature is set by corporate. We don’t really buy that story, but what can you do? Overall, we find Starbucks a good place to meet, and they are environmentally conscious.
Grab Some Coffee and a Critique
So grab yourself some coffee, pop up a note on Meetup or Facebook, and get ready to sit down and talk writing. It could be the best cup of coffee you drink (and two hours of time you spend) all week.
Where to find the Tarthian Empire Companion
Find this book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25134488-tarthian-empire-companion-an-illustrated-world-building-bible-and-guide
Coming soon to print