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 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her 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 President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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