Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Importance of Critique Groups

   After our Writer's Critique Group meeting last night, I was once again reminded how important a meeting like that is for a writer. It makes no difference whether you are an established author or just starting out, being able to discuss issues in your writing, face to face, with your peers, is priceless.
   I was also reminded of the diversity in what people enjoy reading. Some will love what you've written and some will not. That doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your writing, it just shows how people have varying tastes. It reinforces the fact that a negative review isn't always a reflection of your writing, but the reader's likes and dislikes. While I may not agree with a negative critique, it stimulates conversation and new ideas to make the story stronger.
   Writing is difficult enough as it is without trying to find your way through the woods alone. Joining a group that will make that journey with you, helps not only you but everyone else as well. Even the most successful authors have a dedicated team to help them reach their goal.
   I highly recommend that if you aren't already part of a writing group, find one to join or start your own. is a good place to start if you live close to a major metropolitan area. They list groups all over the world, not just in the U.S. Your local library is also a great place to find a group or to post a flyer looking for others to join yours.
   Don't be discouraged if the first group you find isn't a good fit, just keep looking. It took me three tries to find a group that fit me. The first one had a bunch of poets (yuk) and the second was all romance writers (double yuk), but the last one had a mixture of all types. I've been with them for over a year and couldn't be happier.
   Find a group that fits and give it a try. What have you got to lose?

   Today's scene is another from my fanfic. Thanks for reading.

   Rand began to pace in front of the Sisters with his handless arm behind his back. As Min watched closely from a short distance away, she could feel through the bond that he was apprehensive, yet determined.

   Stopping in front of the group, he gave each one a considering look. Every Sister met his eyes, and after a nod of his head, he continued. “I will not apologize for what happened or for what some of you were forced to do. There was little trust left in me. One group of Aes Sedai kept me locked up in a small trunk, being let out only to be beaten or watch Min being beaten. The other group went expressly against my wishes by increasing the number of their group to a point where I felt threatened. Do you think I could dare release either group to possibly try and capture me again? I did what had to be done at the time. However, that time has come and gone. During the Age of Legends, all men and women with the ability to channel were called Aes Sedai and worked together in all things. We were the servants of the people, not rulers or manipulators. We must work together again to have any chance of restoring the Dark One’s prison.”

   As Rand paused, Min noticed the air around him begin to shimmer, the light warped and bent. The circle of blue sky over their heads was expanding, the blue richer and deeper, and the sunshine brighter. The image she always saw around him was changing. The pinpoints of light were escaping the pit of darkness in droves, and the Light be praised, the darkness was diminishing. Whatever was happening to the man she loved more than life, it was wonderful and right. Knowing he would feel it, she sent all of that love through the bond.

   “I release all of you from your oaths of fealty,” Rand declared with a big smile in Min’s direction. “If you see any of the others before I do, I give you the authority in my name to release them also. You may come and go as you wish, but please remember what I have said. I am not to lead this battle. That responsibility will fall to others. My purpose will be to focus the Light of this world to counter the Dark One and keep him from escaping while others repair his prison.”

   “But my Lord Dragon,” Kiruna Sedai protested. “You hold the Crown of Illian and armies, including the Aiel, fight in your name.”

   “What of the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison?” Berenicia Sedai demanded. “It seems foolishness in the extreme to destroy the only thing left holding the Dark One.”

   Rand almost had to laugh at how quickly the women had regained their balance. They were Aes Sedai, and when they asked a question, they expected an immediate answer. Aes Sedai were always in control, and made a point of letting you know when they thought you were wrong. Was that a thing of Aes Sedai, or was that just a thing of women, he mused.

   He held up his hand in front of his face to hide his smile and to stop the flood of questions before they could really get started. He was surprised at how right it felt to have the Sisters returned to their proper positions. He had been as uncomfortable with the situation as he was sure they had been.

   “The Crown of Illian will soon be returned to the man who deserves it. The Aiel and any army that wants to fight in my name may do so with my blessing, but I will not lead them. Concerning the remaining Seals, Berenicia Sedai, I was there three thousand years ago when the Hundred Companions and I placed those Seals on the Dark One’s prison.  Believe me when I tell you, even one Seal left in place will interfere with repairing his prison.”

   Leaving the Aes Sedai to absorb that revelation, Rand put his arm around Min and started walking back to camp. He saw the look on Min’s face that a woman had when she knew what you were thinking and didn’t like it.

   “Don’t ask.” he said, laughing.

   “Alright, sheepherder,” she growled with a punch to his side that made him grunt. “Now that you’ve sent that gaggle of geese squawking in all directions, what are you planning to do next?”

   Once again, a look of apprehension and determination crossed Rand’s face as he replied. “Something I’ve put off for too long, Min. It’s time to face the Wolf.”

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