Dramaquill's All Things Writing

May 16, 2011

What is it that makes a really great writer great?

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Ever since I embarked on my writing  journey, I’ve read everything I could get my hands on where writing is concerned.

  •  Articles on show, don’t tell. 
  • Interviews with agents and editors on what works when submitting and what turns them off immediately. 
  • Discussions on POV

I’ve also been an active participant in two online critique groups, as well as joining writers’ organizations and attending writing conferences.

But I still have to wonder:  What is it that makes a really great writer great?

Here are a few things I think help contribute to a writer’s greatness:

  • unique voice
  • consistency in the writing
  • strong, solid plots
  • characters that behave like real people (readers can relate to them)
  • stories that surprise and entertain us
  • descriptive writing that immediately paints a vivid visual

Above all, however, I think it goes deeper than the ability to craft an amazing story. 

To me, a great writer is passionate about the entire process.  These aren’t just words on a page.  It’s time invested in painstakingly scupting every detail until it’s the absolute best writing it can be.  A great writer writes what stirs them up – stories they have to tell.

Don’t write to market trends.

Don’t settle for anything less than your best writing…ever.

Don’t sub pieces out without doing your homework on the publishers you’ve chosen.

But what is the biggest thing that makes a really great writer great?

NEVER GIVE UP!

June 10, 2008

Pros and Cons of Critique Groups

Being a writer can be a very lonely profession. For some, this isolation becomes a real deterrent; preventing them from achieving any real kind of success.  Critique groups

provide a wonderful lifeline, especially for the newer writer.  But what exactly is a

critique group?

 

Before the internet, critique groups consisted of individuals living in similar geographic locations who desired to connect with others for support, networking and feedback.  Geographically, the internet has opened the door for writers from all around the globe. Online critique groups enjoy membership from a wide variety of places.

 

When making the decision to join a critique group, whether online or in your local community, writers should consider the following in their research:

 

1.  What do you want to get out of belonging to the group?

 

2.  How much time will participation take?

 

3.  What are the goals of the group?

 

4.  Is the group genre-specific or general writing?  (Know which you’re looking for

     when investigating potential critique groups.)

 

5.  How big is the group?  (More than 10 participants is often too large a group.)

 

Obviously newer writers can receive great benefits from participation, but many seasoned professionals consider critique groups a continuously useful tool as they prepare and submit manuscripts.

 

As with anything, there are always pros and cons. Let’s take a look at these as they apply to critique groups.

 

PROS:

 

1.  Receive feedback on everything from grammar and style to character, plot, tone, 

     POV and much more.  Critique groups are a great place to test out new works and

     first drafts as well as fine tuning a manuscript before sending it out.

   

2.  Provides a place for encouragement and interaction with other writers. 

   

3.  Critiquing the work of others is a great way to become a better editor of your own

     work.

 

4.   Writers are exposed to each other’s styles and unique voices.

 

5.  Although the critiques are the focus of the group, network opportunities also exist

    in everything from leads on contests to information about publishers and agents as

    well as wisdom from those with experience in different areas of the business.

   

6.  The submission deadline, usually once per week, is often the nudge many writers

     need to continue to produce new work or stay with a longer project (like a novel).

 

7.  Writers can easily miss small errors in their editing but the critique group offers

     several pairs of eyes who can spot these mistakes.

 

Critique groups, then, can be a great place to test out new works or give final drafts one last tweak before sending them out.

 

CONS:

 

1.  Is it safe to show your work to strangers?  (Although this can be of concern, the

     many writers surveyed for this post agree that critique groups are quite safe.)

    

2.  Harsh critiques can be discouraging.  (Remember, you must decide if the

     criticism is constructive and whether or not you choose to use the advice given is

    is always up to you.)

 

3.  The time it takes to critique the work of others can become time away from your

     own writing.           

 

It is apparent that the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to critique groups.

Do your research.  Before you join any group, make sure that they meet your needs so that belonging to a critique group can be a helpful tool in your ongoing quest to become a better writer. 

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