A few days back I mentioned that I had asked my local library on Facebook if they knew of any writers groups in the small town where I live. John answered my inquiry and told me there were several, one met every Friday at the library. He said I was welcome to join. So today, being Friday, at ten o’clock, I found myself in the conference room with five printed pages of my work in progress. That is the price of admission, you see, reading aloud five pages of your WIP.
When I arrived one man, Chuck, was already there. He had a neat stack with a binder and a notepad laid out in front of him. It was all in matching leather and it looked ever so professional. He was smiling, welcoming and pleasant. He told me a little about his WIP and I was immediately intrigued. He writes about an assassin located in a small town in central Kentucky, which sounds exactly like where we live. When he read his chapter, he went last and it was riveting. He packed so much into the two pages of his chapter. He really brought his character to life using such a small amount of words. It was thrilling and so much detail. He has been published and after the meeting, I checked out his book. The published book is The Chronicles of Michael Tate and other Stories by Charles L.Witt.
The group was fantastic. It is a small group they said about 5 core members. Today it was three men and me. At the end of the session, about noon, another librarian came into the conference room, she had been unable to attend today but she said she tries to attend as often as possible. We really hit it off. She is writing a mystery. She isn’t sure of the style as of yet, all she knows is there is a dead body. I loved that answer.We spent quite a few minutes after the meeting just chatting about how intelligent Australian Shepherds really are. A topic near and dear to both of our hearts.
The leader, John, went first. John is one of the main librarians and he is writing about an art theft. It was witty and had the best start. It began by mentioning the ego based arguments between Leonardo DiVinci and Michaelangelo. That argument alone was so well written, with Italian insults included, that it made the entire story spark to life. Once you heard of these two magnificent artists having such an intense rivalry, you grasped where he was going with the story. It was brilliantly executed. The premise of the story is concerning two local artists and the ongoing egocentric battle. It is bright and quick witted and has some lovely characters that I want to know more about. I was fortunate to attend the meeting where he introduced his new WIP.
When my turn came, I read my pages and was thrilled that these three gentlemen were laughing at the parts I hoped were funny. They then asked me to bring in the next section next Friday. They each assured me they loved romantic comedies, especially when they included a couple of dogs. That was a bonus! They gave some good feedback about a couple of sentences that did not have a subject. Need I mention grammar is my weakest link. All three agreed that there was one sentence that slowed the pace of the story. I cut it immediately. I could see they were exactly right. They had critiques but they were gently given and accepted. I appreciated all their words. Then we all took turns reading our work and corrections, compliments, and critiques were given to and by all.
It is funny what other people struggle with. It seems that two of the three men struggle with describing their characters in a flowing manner. They said it sounds stilted to describe their characters. We had a very lively discussion on trying to make the characters come to life for the reader.
The other man, I didn’t catch his name I am sorry to say, wrote a wonderful memoir style piece about his father in 1966 who told him to stay away from black people. It instilled a fear of them in his mind and he wrote a beautiful story about being on a train with 3 other people. 1 a drunken old man, 1 a temperance-minded preaching woman and the first black man he had ever seen. It was so innocent and so well written. It told how we can be blinded to the truth of the person by our parents and other people’s well-intentioned warnings. While the white characters were loud, scary and abusive to one another,as he put it, he met the nicest man he had ever met in his life while his fear scale of one to ten, was at a fifteen. That piece could be used as an opening dialog for people of all ages. The piece was poignantly written and just as relevant today as it was in the sixties.
If you are a shy and backward writer, and you typically fly solo, I suggest you contact your own local library and see what they have scheduled. It is a lovely way to spend a few hours. In those two hours I was able to find three accomplished writers, have a fresh look at my own work and made contact with local people. It was quite a morning. I look forward to next Friday at ten am where I will be sitting in a conference room with other writers that call themselves “The Pantsers.” As soon as I heard the name, I knew it was meant to be!