A Note on Writing Teams

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

I’ve come to a conclusion about certain types of teams. In this case, it is about teams that are called critique groups, as in a group of writers who meet regularly to critique each others work. Often they form because the members have an affinity for a specific genre, e.g., poetry, fiction, children’s literature, etc.

I have seen critique groups with four members and I have seen others with upwards of a dozen. Some are open and will welcome virtually any interested party as space allows. Others are by invitation only and applicants will present a work and afterwards the group decides whether or not to invite the applicant to join.

As with any team, it is important to have some stated goals (Get published!) and have a structure to the meeting. Four people meeting for two hours gives each person 30 minutes to read their work and have it critiqued, and the critiquing can get dicey.

One person once told me that the reason a newly formed critique group failed after a few meetings was because none of the members were published writers. Mentally, I pooh-poohed the idea, but it did give me reason to think.

Nowadays, being “published” can have all sorts of meanings. I know of one person who says he repeatedly shows un as number one best seller in his category on Amazon.(Note the italics.) I suspect Amazon may define best seller differently that The New York Times.

What with all the online options available for self-publishing, print on demand, ghost writing and more, being a “published” author may not be far-fetched.

I think maybe what he really meant was did anyone in that critique group really understand the writing process, not just tapping out sentence on a keyboard, but the mechanics of writing. If they want to write fiction, do they read fiction and if they do what can they tell about character development, a narrative arc, proper use of dialogue and point of view. It is this type of knowledge about the workings of a written piece that separate the writers from the wannabes.

If the case is that a refresher is needed, them the team should make that part of a regular meeting and start getting up to speed, if you will, as a team. In a broader, and to me more important sense, you never want to criticize a person’s work with “I just don’t like it.” But you can remind them of how the team had discussed character development and doe s the writer think his or her protagonist conforms to that process.  That’s being helpful and supportive.

What do you think? Do you write? Are you in a group? We’d like to hear.



About Bob McCarthy

Originally from the Northeast, I now call Southwest Florida home. I have been a professional copywriter and editor since 1979, both freelance and in house. I have had article published in regional, national and international magazines. Plus, a video for which I wrote the script won an industry award as Best Training Video.
This entry was posted in Advantages of Teams, Collaborative Teams, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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