Friday, August 23, 2013

Critique Group Week: Meet Writers in the Rain!

The last, but certainly not least, critique group of the week is Writers in the Rain. They've created a system that works for them, and they know exactly when to order fries with that....

FROM LEFT: Angela, Martina, Suma, Fabio, Eileen, Brenda

1. How many members do you have? 
Our critique group is called Writers in the Rain. There are six of us: Brenda Beem, Fabio Bueno, Martina Dalton, Angela Orlowski-Peart, Eileen Riccio, and Suma Subramaniam. All of us have finished books, and two have been published. The other members are on the verge of publishing or querying.

2. How long has the group been together?
We signed up for critique groups at the 2010 SCBWI-WWA conference. Angela requested a list of Young Adult writers looking for critique groups from the critique coordinator and sent out a call for partners. Several writers answered, but only the five of us lived close enough to form a group that would meet in person. We exchanged emails, met for coffee, and developed an instant connection!

3. Do you focus on single or multiple genres?
Our novels are YA and upper-middle-grade in multiple YA sub-genres. Some of us are branching out into New Adult and adult books.

4. How often do you meet? Where?
We meet weekly. The group used to meet at the King County libraries, but they close at 9pm, and we didn’t have enough time to critique everybody’s pages. Since then, we’ve been meeting at pubs, restaurants, sports bars, and coffeehouses.

5. What has been your group's biggest challenge(s)? How have you resolved it/them?
Probably time management. Giving everyone's pages a detailed critique is a complicated task. Sometimes, we lose track of time. We solved it by using a stopwatch and allowing everyone
thirty minutes. In addition, we became more efficient in our critiques. Grammar and punctuation corrections, for example, are usually just marked on the pages.
Another challenge is finding a location to meet that is relatively quiet and that stays open late. We stopped going to one establishment because we had to pick up our feet while the waitress vacuumed under our legs!

6. What is the format of your meetings?
Because we are not only the critique partners, but, most importantly, good friends, we always start on catching up while ordering food and drinks. Each of us brings up to five printed pages to the meetings, and we hand them out. One member reads aloud, and the rest have copies to make notes for discussion. Then we critique and brainstorm. The discussions focus not only on voice, pace, grammar, dialogue, and description, but we also analyze character arcs, plot points, continuity, and even mundane details, like names and shoe brands a character would wear.

7. What is the key to a successful group dynamic?
The most important thing is that we truly like each other, and have a deep respect for each others’ work, writing skills, and knowledge.
We listen to the advice we’re given, and also give the best writing advice we can.
We trust each other.
We are always learning and growing as writers.
And we write, and write, and re-write.

8. Any quirky group rituals? Inspirational rituals? Favorite snacks?
We have a ritual: “fries on me.” Every time one of us celebrates a milestone in their journey—an award, publication, full requests, a new book cover, sterling reviews—the person celebrating buys a basket of french fries for the whole group.
We definitely enjoy a good laugh. We take our writing and our meetings seriously, but that doesn’t mean that we can't appreciate the idiosyncrasies in our own stories. After reading so many pages at one point of the night we may get a little punchy. As you might expect, somebody gets the giggles. It's contagious! We go from the quietest table in the restaurant to the most raucous.

A super shout out to SCBWI for getting us all started on our paths! Thank you.

We would love to hear from you! Please connect through our web sites!


EmilyBR said...

Is there a crit group that meets on the east side –Bellevue- Kirkland?
I am looking for a crit group in preschool books.

Carol Bonner

Angela Orlowski-Peart said...

Thank you for posting about our group!

Dawn Simon said...

What a great group! Fun to read about you guys. :)