Friday, July 3, 2015

What's Your Critique Group Experience? @kayelleallen #MFRWauthor #amwriting

Tarthian Empire Companion 
I live in a small town in Georgia, and honestly thought I'd never find a writer's group where I would fit. I write non-fiction, contemporary romance, scifi, scifi romance, gay romance, and I'm moving into mainstream with all my books simply to broaden my reader base. So instead of erotic content, I'm writing with a focus on character relationships and other story aspects.

When I found a group on MeetUp that brought together local writers, I intended to stay "in the closet" as far as my erotic writing went. I was focusing on other aspects anyway. They'd never see my spicy scenes. Members knew going in that I wrote gay romance, and that was never an issue with anyone. Considering it is such a small town, I was a little surprised when no one even blinked when I said what I write. About three months later, we got a new member from California who was writing a lesbian romance series. It's literary fiction with characters who happen to be lesbians. She's an incredible writer -- one of the most gifted I've ever read. She's become my friend.

When she asked if the group could meet an additional day of the week just for critiques, we took a vote. Everyone who was interested began meeting on the new day as well. Later, we gained another writer who writes romance, but who has a serious love for gay romance. I'm still amazed at how diverse this group is for such a tiny town. I never expected to find this. We have one writer in her 70s who's probably the most open-minded person I've ever met. She just isn't shocked at anything, unless it's us saying something nice about her work. We have a 20-something guy who's a new writer honing his love of pony fanfic. And we have a serious literary writer who uses multimillion dollar words and you would think is pretentious until you realize he's being himself. He speaks the way he writes. If I made these characters up for a book people would think I had an outrageous imagination. But they are real, and I get to hang out with them every week.

My point is that no matter where you live, there is probably someone like you, looking for a writer friend. Ask at the library if you can put out flyers to start a writers' group. Take out an ad in the local paper. Reach out on social media. Try MeetUp like I did, and see what happens. But get out there and meet writers. The fun and camaraderie of working together is too good to miss.

What is your experience? Have you belonged to a critique group in the past? Are you in one now? Please share in the comments.

Kayelle Allen, author of the Tarthian Empire Companion
A World-Building Bible and Guide to Writing a Science Fiction Series
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