I have been involved in a traditional critique group for a while, which has been enormously beneficial; not only to tighten my writing and hone technique, but to encourage me—especially when I was a knee-trembling newbie.
However, inspired by the class taught by Susie and Rachel at the ACFW conference and by the Huddle Up! MBT Peptalk last October, I wanted something to take my writing to another level.
My writing partner and I decided that we needed to bounce around plotting ideas with other writers. We found a couple other writers and last month our new group was born. We don’t have a fancy group name yet, but the four of us that get together once a week and just talk shop. Instead of working on line-by-line edits we focus on plot, character development, and themes. We “borrow” each other’s brains to inspire new ideas.
Last week, since there were only two of us available, we plotted an entire short-story series and worked out some character issues with my second book. Sometimes we read scenes out loud, or just talk about the issues that need tweaking. Our sessions are very casual, sometimes involve brownies, and the times is divided between us to make sure everyone gets a chance to share. We all write different genres and have different strength and weaknesses, which helps to provide fresh perspective on our own.
I cannot tell you how helpful this new type of writing group has been. Instead of feeling bogged down by a snarled scene, I can come to my group and we brainstorm ways to untangle it. Instead of worrying about editing scenes to perfection before I share (which is a major hindrance to this perfectionist), I can focus on making the scene strong and worry about editing later. As a result, I have written more in the past month than I have in a long while. And besides the accountability, it just makes the whole process a lot more fun! I don’t know about you, but I can talk story for hours. Inevitably, brainstorming other people’s stories somehow sparks new ideas for my own.
If you are looking for something new, something to revitalize your passion for your story, think about pulling together three or four friends once a week, or even once a month, to just plot together. You never know what exciting ideas will be born!
Connilyn Cossette has a passion for writing stories of timeless grace that draw readers into a personal encounter with the rich ancient world of the Bible, and its Author. Her debut novel, Counted with the Stars, will be released with Bethany House Publishers in Spring of 2016. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.