Tuesday, September 20, 2011

On Creative Classes and Group Critics

Yesterday I started my third week in my Creative Writing program. If you've been around this blog for a while, you'll have noted my posting rate went down. It isn't a coincidence. There is a lot to read and a lot to write. I'm super busy.

The good part? I have never loved being buried under a pile of schoolwork this much. I'm having a blast!

I'll say this: most of the general writing advice I've received are things I've heard on the interwebs before. Watch out for the "feel", "realize" or "see" in the texts. Don't step out of the POV. Have a strong opening paragraph. Show don't tell (though this one was phrased nicely. My teacher said "Remember, you have little to say but a lot to show).

I expected this. I've been digging the internet for writing pearls for at least two years now. Not that I've heard it all, but I believe I have a fair grasp on what I should do. It's applying it that is difficult. I came to the program to write texts and be critiqued, to receive personalised advice.

This week I had my first taste of critique groups. I loved it.

I was insanely nervous at first, in no small parts because the first texts to be critiqued wasn't my favourite. As in, I was exhausted when I wrote it, and the structure was all wrong, and I was certain there'd be a dozen other things that failed about it.

It went well, and I was relieved. Then came the Novel Writing class, in which I presented pages I was really proud of.* And guys, I received lots of great comments. But not just that. They picked on everything that was wrong despite the praises. They found my real first sentence, trimmed the extra fat, pointed out the repetitions. Everything I'd missed, or just about.

And I discovered how some are great at finding overall problems while others will find your spelling mistakes. It's great to have a good range of readers, both strangers and writer friends. I feel like I've learned more in the last two days than I have in months. From receiving and giving critiques.

I'm aware critique groups aren't for everyone, or that not every group will fit every writer, but in the chance you get an experience that is anything like mine so far, I encourage you to seek other writers and try this group thing.

Also, related but not quite the same, my teacher loved my novel pages. *happy cloud*


Don't forget that next week is the Superheroes of Science Blogfest!


  1. Really glad it's going so well for you. Sounds like this is going to be great for your writing and a fabulous all-around experience.

  2. It is! I'm so happy the program is living up to my expectations. :)

  3. It's so great to read this post--you can feel your excitement coming through the lines! I'm a huge fan of group reviews. I'm glad to hear you're finding them to be so beneficial.

    Miss you around here, but glad to hear things are going so well!

  4. TL -- I'm doing my best to keep up and still read almost everything posted. I just don't comment anymore, unless I think of something right away.