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Discussion in 'Writing Groups' started by Konstanz, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    I was thinking of creating a writing group based on the concept of Brandon Sanderson's writing class. You're not required to watch any of his video colleges at all - but they could be a means to expand your knowledge. But what I would like to recreate are the writing groups (and system) he uses for his class. I'm looking for 3-5 writers who would like to share their work and receive constructive criticism. Not criticism as in "You should do this!" or "Wouldn't it be cool if..." The writer won't be influenced by the critics. Instead, members would tell each other what they did like and what they didn't like (and why) - but while leaving the creative process firmly in the hands of the author.

    The goal would be to share work on a weekly (or perhaps, biweekly) basis. Members would then read each other's work and give some feedback.

    Anyone interested? Or perhaps there are already similar groups out there that would be willing to take on another member?
     
  2. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    I like the idea of doing this, but I don't really have anything to exchange at the moment. It would be cool if we could use the workshop to write some new material. I think that could be a helpful experience. Like having assignments and such. If other people become interested, I may be willing to join as I'm planning to go through Sanderson's lectures anyway. I've been threatening to do it for a while now anyway.
     
  3. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    Well Sanderson does encourage the people in his class to take a fresh start and I'm willing to take that to the writing group. Assignments would be a great idea too - though in my opinion they should not just be exercises, they should be helpful. For instance, an assignment saying you should "write 1000 words about a bar fight involving a donkey, three corpulent men and a teaspoon of sugar" isn't exactly helpful. While it's a lot of fun - and perhaps on occasion, we should have exercises like these in the group - it shouldn't be the focus. A good assignment would be: "write an extract from a book, written by a person living in your world, which discusses some of your religion's practices and ceremonies". Or "write a fight scene" but without detailing what persons should be involved. Most books have a fight scene, so it's good practice to write one out and you can later use it as a base for a fight scene in your book.

    Anyway, let's hope others are interested too. :)
     
  4. MAndreas

    MAndreas Troubadour

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    I might be interested, but for me it would work out better to have stuff that I've already done a round or two of edits on- not brand new (ain't no one seeing my WIP just yet!) Figure if I can catch the really dumb ass mistakes in my work first, it lets others catch the more subtle dumb ass mistakes ;).

    Keep me in mind if something comes about!
     
  5. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    I like the idea of assignments. I want to write more short works and 1000 word assignments would be idea for that. Back when I belonged to a writing group we'd have monthly challenges that I usually found useful.

    A chatroom or Skype group would be appropriate for communication and discussion surrounding assignments, especially feedback.
     
  6. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Incidentally, inspired by the idea vs execution thread, I'd like the suggest the first assignment is to write a story based on a bad or overdone idea. Perhaps we could all suggest a few bad ideas and then each pick one? Or we could give bad ideas to the above poster, that sort of thing?
     
  7. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    So are we going to try to do this? I prefer working with new material and having weekly assignments, but if people want to use pre-existing stuff I'm cool with that too. I feel like working with pre-existing stuff doesn't really work with Sanderson's concept, but I guess it could be OK.

    Why not have a group leader each week and we could get together via chat or whatever and discuss assignments and what we learned from that week's lecture? The group leader could decide the assignments for each week and we could rotate out.

    I like Chilari's assignment idea. I had thought suggesting the "bad idea" concept for a challenge or something like that myself.

    I just thought of a cool idea for an assignment too. Something like "Take a historical event and write a fantasy version of it." That's something Sanderson mentions in his lectures as well. I think there is all sorts of potential for good stuff to come out of this if we stick with it. I'm on Lecture 2 now (independently) but I can go back through the first one again if needed.

    I personally think 4 people is enough for a group, but I want to make sure we're all serious about it before I commit to it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2012
    Chilari likes this.
  8. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    I think 4 people would be enough, yes. I'd rather a voice chat with eg Skype than a text chat, but either would be fine. It would have to be weekend meetings because during the week we'll all be working at different times due to time zones. unless there's anyone who works at weekends? We'd have to work things like that out, work timetables and time zones.

    So how would we do it? During the week, watch the lecture for that week and do the assignment that has been set (does Sanderson set assignments? In which case would we use his or our own or both alternately?) I suggest we post our assignments somewhere no later than 24 hours before the chat meeting, to give everyone some time to read them, then at the chat meetings talk about the lecture, what we found useful, give feedback on assignments and determine what the next assignment will be.

    I think we should keep assignment lengths down; while they might vary, an upper limit of 2000 words seems appropriate. That way we've not got too much of others stuff to read, and still have time for writing on whatever novels, short stories, articles and whatever else we have on at the same time.

    I am willing to commit. This is exactly the sort of thing that I think would do me some real good.
     
  9. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    I like all of your ideas, but I have to say I might not be able to attend a weekly meeting (even during the weekends). It would depend on how long it is. I could probably make like half of them (if they were during the early evening) but due to the unstable quality of college life, I might have to skip some.

    Other than that, I'm willing to commit myself. I do suggest we make a livejournal group (or some kind of forum/google docs/whatever service) so we can also communicate and share outside of the weekly chats. It's also a lot easier to share critique like that.

    So how do we set it up? :)
     
  10. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Well how about we make them fortnightly meetings rather than weekly? Give us more time to watch, write and read when things are busy, but it's still regular.
     
  11. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Whatever the schedule is settled upon I'm cool with it, but I'd prefer it to be stable. That way we could have time to watch the lectures and do assignments as well as work on anything else we're working on. Perhaps for those of us that just want to spurn each other on with assignments, we could always do extra weekly assignments for those that are interested.

    If everyone has Facebook, we could just form a private group there. I'm willing to sign up for some other group if needed, but I figure if we all have Facebook, we wouldn't have to come up with a new place to register and all.
     
  12. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    I'd rather not use Facebook for personal reasons, it's not that I don't want to add strangers or anything, it's just that I prefer to keep my personal space and my writing separate. It helps me focus more on my writing. It'd be better if it was just a livejournal group or perhaps a google doc group? I don't know a lot about LiveJournal but it seems like a good, reliable software for this kind of endeavor.
     
  13. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    OK, just pick one then and I'll go make an account. Once you post the one you want to use we can all organize.
     
  14. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    I wouldn't have thought livejournal was right, it's really more of a blog; and Google docs is great for sharing documents but it doesn't to my knowledge, have a forum or chat function (I'd be happy to be wrong though, and we could just go with that if I am). I would prefer Skype. I have it on permanently anyway. Or when I have a working PC I do anyway. Stupid motherboard having to blow up like that. At least it was still in warranty...
     
  15. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Ok so let's do this in order to get things moving:

    1. Decide when we'd like to start
    2. Let's do Skype or Google Docs whichever one everyone is comfortable with
    3. Make sure what everyone is committed to doing (once every two weeks, once a week). I think once a month is too slow, personally. Every two weeks would be ideal.
    4. Decide if we want to do additional assignments. I think the goal of Sanderson's course is to write a novel by the end of the course. If people want to use existing writing, I think that's fine. But I think we should have short assignments too in order to get some writing done that actually applies the elements we learned. That's why I think using old work feels more like just a regular workshop and not something for what the class is designed.
    5. What do you think of having a group leader each session? We could rotate group leaders and have them lead each session that way it's not like every week "Uh...so..."

    Thoughts?
     
  16. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    I suggest the following:

    1. Start next week. Also, I just want to share that I have exams in January, so the meeting(s) have to be in the evening and is preferably short until the exam period is over. I'll try to be there every time though.
    2. How about we meet up over skype but share the work/critique through google docs?
    3. Biweekly seems best.
    4. Additional assignments seem like fun to me. It's a good way to get some worldbuilding done and to write some lore (myths, legends) for my world.
    5. Excellent idea. The group leader could also create the assignment.

    Anyone else who would like to share his thoughts?
     
  17. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Works for me. Let's get this set-up then! We can exchange Skype info via private message here and our Google Docs group.
     
  18. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Sounds good to me. As far as the time is concerned, I assume, Kontanz, you're in the US? If so, evening for you is the small hours of the morning for me here in Britain and what, midmorning the next day for Phil? So it would have to be the weekend. I can stay up late as necessary on a Friday or Saturday night but weekdays I've got to be up at 6am so can't be up late.
     
  19. Philip Overby

    Philip Overby Staff Article Team

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    Yeah, I'm cool with whatever times on weekends. Just let me know the time and I can adjust. Weekdays can't be done, unfortunately because I'll be working for most of the day.
     
  20. Konstanz

    Konstanz Minstrel

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    No, I'm European (Belgium), so that won't be a problem!
     

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