Critique: The Power of Compounding Knowledge

Open Door

One by one we come to the door and step in. We’re a motley crew, writers of children’s books, thrillers, southern literary, historical romance. Most of us are southern to the bone, but one of us was born in New Jersey and a couple root for the Red Sox.  We don’t agree on much, and that’s the point; one writer’s weakness is another one’s strength. We gather each Wednesday, sometimes as writer, sometimes as editor, and we cut and expand and sharpen and deepen until we’ve done all we need to carry on another week.

What we don’t do is gloss over our critiques. We are writers; we are committed; it is our business. But our conference room is also a kitchen table, so while it’s been the scene of sharp disagreements, it’s also seen its share of hands reached across the table and clasped tight. Writing is like that; you get to know each other quickly and deeply. As Adrian says, it is a naked business.

It is also a solitary business, so we treasure the camaraderie of our Wednesday nights.  And although it isn’t easy—it is as hard to give a critique as it is to receive one—we understand this is a generous thing that we do for each other. If we didn’t care and care deeply, we would not bother. It comes down to trust and respect. As writers. As friends.

The power of our Wednesday night group is in its compounding knowledge:  Adrian has a gift for language, Richard for dialogue, Linda for characters, Gina for telling detail. Noanne’s writing has emotional depth, Leslee’s pace, Brian’s wit, Alan’s whimsy. My strength is plot and structure, and when we add them all together, our skills are multiplied. It has worked for our small group; imagine what we can learn on this wider format with all of you.

So that’s it. Each Tuesday I’ll blog on one of your questions and hopefully readers will write back with their suggestions.

Welcome to my blog. I’m glad you found your way to my door.

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