Have you watched ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ yet? There’s that scene where Sisu confesses how she didn’t really do much. And she gave that classic allusion; the dreaded group assignment where there is usually someone who doesn’t pull their weight but still gets all the credit. I laughed at that. I’ve been the victim of that so many times. Thank God school is not an eternal loop and we can move on.
But away from draining groups. I joined a writing group.
Technically, this is my first writing group. I have read all those stories about your writing group and bouncing ideas off each other, how some great stories come up from those discussions. Every body needs a tribe. And what better group of people than those in the thick of it with you, who get this passion to write and are dedicated to helping you improve. People who can act as your cushion when you fall back.
This is in no way a permanent thing. I’m not sure it is. We signed up for it to fulfil the conditions to participate in the writing challenge. They gave the option to sign up with your own friends but I came across the challenge with a 24 hour window left to sign up. Luckily enough they provided a group for me.
It’s always nice to have someone in your corner!
And even more interesting to see what you can come up with when you bundle a group of different people together. And the perspective they bring to a story. So if you are stuck with a story, share it.
Of course this requires vulnerability and vulnerability at any level is scary. But having this group means trusting people with your most guarded secret – your writing process. That’s of course if you enjoy having people think the words just ooze out of you. Giving that piece is an uphill task, I know. Even worse when you are in the middle of the process. It’s like running out of water in the middle of your shower with soap still stuck in your eyes. And if you think that’s terrible wait for when it’s starts stinging…the soap, not the group.
But there can also be hard words to hear, where they tell you that your best line is an atrocity, a violation of all the known grammar rules and makes no sense. That your story is blunt and they can’t see the plot. Or when they say that your favourite character is flat and is more of a copy-and-paste from their worst book, just with a different name.
And you need this. You are good on your own but better with feedback. You need people who are not wearing rose-coloured glasses like you where your work is concerned. People who can expertly tell you what’s not working and explain why it’s not working.
It’s not all salt and pepper though.
They can be uplifting too. Tell you how much they love a line you wrote without thinking so much about. Or tell you to retain a scene you were thinking of cutting because it is very pivotal to your story. Pointing out every thing you could miss because you have been so close to the picture…I mean story. Honestly, you have been with the story for three long years and it’s become as familiar as your first name, it’s sort of lost it’s pizzazz.
You need extra eyes.
Everybody does and they never figure that out till they are stabbed in the back. Not that your story is going to stab you in the back. But working with a group is like – having extra pairs of eyes. Which you can always use if you want to see every nook and cranny your story could be hiding. Get your back covered from terrible reviews.
So we are doing this challenge. The way it is set up, we all get to write our different stories but they’ll tally everyone’s score to give the group a general score. It doesn’t pay for one of us to have a great story while the rest are subpar. I like this, that we get so invested in another story, it means that we’ll be honest and genuinely want the best for the others because their success is our success. Literally. I also like that everyone comes to this with their favourite genres. For me this is good exposure, how some plot-lines work, tropes I think I are overdone but can have another aspect added to them, settings I never consider.
Do you have a writing group? How does it function, most importantly is it helping you become a better writer?
If you made it this far, and have watched ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’, what was your favourite scene? If you don’t mind sharing of course…