Why I Love My Writing Group

Picture of a handwritten pageSo, as some may know, I’ve been working on a particular book for a loooong time. Looooong time. It’s the first in a fantasy trilogy and this manuscript has undergone so many convulsions and rewrites that I was getting to the point where I was worried I’d kill it if I went much further. Based on some solid feedback from an interested agent, I started wrestling with it again and performed some major surgery: excised a number of points of view (which will end up in Book 2), removed some extraneous (but charming!) bits misguidedly intended as textual amuse-bouches between chapters, and switched one point of view from 3rd person past to 1st person present.

I was encouraged, but worried that the patient might not have survived the surgery. So I dumped it on my writing group, whose members rose whole-heartedly to the challenge, and we critted it last Saturday.

And I discovered – yay! it’s not broken. Some bits need to be made more connected, and in the discussion, someone suggested something absolutely brilliant, which helps me tie things together in a way that I’d been trying unsuccessfully to do. I came out of the session encouraged and with a clearer eye on how to fix what’s not working in it. I know I can make my deadline for handing it off, and it’ll be a better, clearer, more interesting book for the effort, which is awesome because I’m really pretty proud of how it’s turning out.

That, in an ideal world, is what a writing group does. They don’t pull punches when something needs fixing, but they do it in a way that helps you figure out how to fix it. Their feedback is valuable; their support even more precious. So to the wonderful folks who valiantly waded through the book despite the lateness of my turning it in – thank you. Persephone d’Shaun, Caren Gussoff, Keffy Kehrli, Tod McCoy, Vicki Saunders, and Emily Skaftun, you all rock. Consider yourselves thoroughly appreciated.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 100+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Tor.com. Her short story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her story collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current Vice President of SFWA.
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