May 24, 2019, 10:16:10 PM

Author Topic: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group  (Read 20960 times)

Offline Overlord

Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« on: February 10, 2015, 12:47:41 PM »
Hey guys,

In the past Fantasy-Faction have run some very good writing groups. The great thing about Fantasy-Faction is that we have a really strong community and those who write do so very well :)

With the recent success of a number of authors who were part of writing groups, and openly say that being a member of the group was a big part of them getting published, I think it would be great if Fantasy-Faction could get a truly serious writing group or two going.

The aim would be to forge strong mini-communities that would see their members get serious feedback on their novels and, hopefully, lead to a number of its members getting published.

To make this worth while I think it would work best if there were 4-6 members in each group. The goal would be for each of these members to really get to know each others work.

In the past the problem we've had is that things start off really well but then fizzle out. In someways this is because we've opened groups to too many people, other times it is because we've given little incentive to carry on. What I am thinking is that to make this work there needs to be a vetting process where only very serious people are let in (people who can commit) and that there should be some incentive for people to stay involved in the group (I am not sure what that is yet).

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this idea. Personally I'd love to one day see award winners mentioning Fantasy-Faction's writing groups as a place they grew as authors :)
Founder: http://fantasy-faction.com
Editor: Fantasy-Faction Anthology (Aug 2014)
Author: "Son of…" in 1853 (2013)
Host: Fantasy-Faction's Grim Gathering

Offline Yora

Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2015, 01:31:43 PM »
Sounds good. I believe there's a couple of people around here who'd be interested in giving a try at Pulpy Sword & Sorcery.

In regards to incentives, I think one rule could be that you have to be active at least somewhat regularly. If someone doesn't show up for a while (say two weeks or four), the spot is treated as vacant and made available to someone else who is interested.
Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

There is nothing to read!

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6873
  • Total likes: 4691
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2015, 01:43:10 PM »
I can easily see how the fizzling out can happen.  I can also see that setting up groups so that like-minded or at least equally committee members find each other can be awkward.  There is also, to be honest, the matter of talent.  I may think myself quite skilled, but a beautiful reader sees my level of writing for what it is. How to navigate e all this without offense but also achieving the goal of the members and the forum?

But, first off, I'd like to participate.  I can think right now of at least 4 other writers in the monthly contest submitters whom I think would be interesting folks to work with.  (Which of course could injure feelings among others. Yikes.)

I guess the questions are:
How do groups form?  Is there a leader for each group?
What is the minimum expected interaction for ongoing participation?
Could we find a successful author willing to be a mentor for each group?
Would the groups' posts be open to all for reading only? Or for commenting by non-group members?
Could the incentive be that F-F will choose at least one story from among the truly active members for the next anthology?

I'm going to betray a point of view which I hope does not anger anyone.  I would want to participate with authors who are at least in college, so formation of groups would, in my view, have to accommodate at least some amount of participant selection and shopping beyond just signing up.

One model might be to have "qualified" volunteers to lead groups, and they choose from among candidates, much like The Voice (a show I hate). 

Yora raises the interesting idea of forming groups around a common genre goal. That could be fun, particularly because someone could participate in more than one group, and groups could form and dissolve as these genre goals are completed.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2015, 04:17:23 PM by Jmacyk »
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Yora

Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2015, 02:15:54 PM »
I think forming groups by genre would not only be most efficient, but also help to maintain interest in participation.

If everyone in a group works on something with a similar style, you have people who are well qualified to give advice in your story. Things they've come across during their research, but didn't end up including in their own story, could still be useful to others in the group. They probably have been pondering many of the same problems as you did and are familiar with other stories of the genre you're working on.

And it probably would make quite a difference for how much interested you are in reading other peoples writing and giving them feedback. If I would end up in a group with people who are writing a young witch coming of age story, a fairy tale portal fantasy, and an urban-fantasy investigation story, I would have a very hard time even getting myself to read their drafts and probably not much to say that would be constructive in any way. And you would also benefit from reading the other peoples stories and paying attention to what the others say about them, because the advice given to one person in the group could be helpful advice to everyone in the group. I would not just read things and share my thought in exchange for the others doing the same for me, but directly benefit for participating in the reviewing, even if I wouldn't get any feedback on my own work.

Personally, I would probably tend a lot more to fully closed groups. Having some additional comments from outside people might be nice sometimes, but having some random people blaring unhelpful stuff might not be too beneficial for the working environment. You don't need any smartasses hollering in the background.
One could however consider additional "advisors", who are members of a group without having their own work in progress and only commenting. It would however lead to the question how the participants agree on who to let in or not.
Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

There is nothing to read!

Offline Raptori

  • Barbarian who does not use the Oxford comma and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4054
  • Total likes: 2111
  • the prettiest kitty cat in the world
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2015, 03:31:00 PM »
As someone who has never taken part in a writing group (or researched them at all), I actually have very little idea what it actually entails. My impression of it is that it's a group of people who share their works in progress and give each other feedback and encouragement - is that far off the mark? :D

Either way, I agree with Jmacyk in that it'd be good to specify the things he mentioned (and possibly more). We don't have much spare time available for writing at the moment so I think we'd be wary of joining in without being sure we could contribute enough.



Side note: I know it's a cliché for new writers to "not have enough time", but our case is a little unusual... there are two things that we've wanted to do - write books, and make games. The game is the easier thing to make so we decided to focus on that, at the moment it's in beta testing and it takes up a lot of time that could have been taken up by writing :(

Another side note: My posts always sount schizophrenic with all the "we" and "I" interspersed together...  ::)
I wish the world was flat like the old days, then I could travel just by folding a map.

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1036
  • Total likes: 563
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2015, 04:06:24 PM »
I'd be very interested. I don't really have a genre requirement for the others in my group, but for myself I would be sticking closer to epic/low fantasy. Like the others, I'd prefer closed groups, and I would also suggest these pages be nonindexed on google. The web marketers in the family would kill me if I posted my content here before posting to my own site.

EDIT: Ah yeah, also I should mention my writing has some harsh language in it, for any that's a deal breaker for. I'm also not the most politically correct  ;)
« Last Edit: February 10, 2015, 04:15:15 PM by Justan Henner »

Offline xiagan

  • Writing Contest Organizer
  • Powers That Be
  • Elderling
  • *
  • Posts: 5811
  • Total likes: 2538
  • Gender: Male
  • Master Procrastinator
    • View Profile
    • Fictional Times
Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2015, 04:17:07 PM »
What absolutely should be done, Marc mentioned parts of it already, is analyzing what didn't work with the last groups.
We have about 5-10 FF writing group veterans still active around here and they could give very valuable advice.

The writing groups I've been part of were incredibly helpful and my writing got a lot better.
I can say that it helped that we got to know each other beforehand and talked about personal and not writing stuff too.
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)

Offline Doctor_Chill

  • RPG Ringleader and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3700
  • Total likes: 776
  • Gender: Male
  • You've been pugged.
    • View Profile
    • Acerbic Writing
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2015, 06:02:02 PM »
I can say that it helped that we got to know each other beforehand and talked about personal and not writing stuff too.

This absolutely. If you go into a writing group not liking the critiquers, there's a chance you can take it personal. Nobody wants that.

I've been in two of the three writing groups on here, and I can say the reason I think they all failed is because people think they have the time, drive, and dedication to see things through when they really don't. Commitment is a hard thing, especially for writers. I honestly don't know how we'd fix these problems when they seem so inherent in the human psyche. It was just take discipline. Besides, things come up in real life, availability leaves us, and heaven knows half a dozen more things come up.

This is going to fail. Let me be clear about this to anybody interested. You will get to Chapter 5, but after that is anybody's guess. That said, I might consider joining. I've got a second project/serialization I'm working on that'll take time from my already busy schedule, but as Xiagan said, these FF Writing Groups have helped me grow immensely. I wouldn't say I'm the best source of advice, considering I helped set some rules for the last that ultimately failed, but as I said, I'm afraid this is a human problem, not a FF problem.

And just to answer some of Jymack's questions:

Quote
How do groups form?  Is there a leader for each group?

Groups would probably form based on either sub-genre or asking for a particular person. There is no leader; that can easily complicate matters, but then, there will obviously be one person that stands out among the rest to take charge.

Quote
What is the minimum expected interaction for ongoing participation?

I'm thinking put up a chapter every other week. That means your group has two weekends to provide (I think the limit last time was) a 200 word critique or more.

Quote
Could we find a successful author willing to be a mentor for each group?

I highly doubt this.

Quote
Would the groups' posts be open to all for reading only? Or for commenting by non-group members?

We'd probably have our own secret sub-board of the forum, so Writing Group members could see and comment, even if they're not in your group. But anonymous members could not.

Quote
Could the incentive be that F-F will choose at least one story from among the truly active members for the next anthology?

Take that up with Marc. But then, I think the majority of people will be looking for help with a book, not something you can fit into a novel.

Of course, I'll pop in more to give my experience, ask any questions, and verify/debate any problems other veterans had. But until then, here's the discussion thread for the last group: http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/writers-corner/writer's-groups/
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline Justan Henner

  • Barbarian who pronounces are, our and hour all the same way
  • Writing Group
  • Auror
  • ***
  • Posts: 1036
  • Total likes: 563
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2015, 06:12:00 PM »
Thanks for a link to that C. Hill. To quote you:

Quote
I used Google Docs and I believe it's the same thing. Copy and paste your chapter or work onto a file, then provide the link in your post/thread in the writing group. People can only see that file and when everybody's done with that piece, you can take file down.

Sound simple enough?

I think this would work very well, and likely solve my concerns about nonindexing/whatever. How did it work last time?

Offline Doctor_Chill

  • RPG Ringleader and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ta'veren
  • **
  • Posts: 3700
  • Total likes: 776
  • Gender: Male
  • You've been pugged.
    • View Profile
    • Acerbic Writing
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2015, 07:51:49 PM »
It can become a hassle if the time from upload to critique is long, namely because some people become worried that other people might steal their document. A healthy fear, but really, I think this system works tremendously well. I'd advocate for it again.
“It’s a dangerous thing, pretense. A man ought to know who he is, even if he isn’t proud to be it.” - Tomorrow the Killing, Daniel Polansky

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6873
  • Total likes: 4691
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2015, 09:21:51 PM »
I'm about to read the link to prior discussion, but wanted to offer a thought on failure and definition. 
"It will fail"". Yes, unless we define that failure as success :)   One of the things I think works for the book club and the writing contest is that both are time-boxed at one month.  You're in for that time, and then you future is your own.  This approach might work for writing groups, though a month is a bit short.  How about three months?  Make that commitment, and then the next round is an incremental choice.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline JMack

  • Hircum Magna Rex of the Fabled Atku Temple, and writing contest regular
  • Writing Group
  • Ringbearer
  • *****
  • Posts: 6873
  • Total likes: 4691
  • Gender: Male
  • Our daily efforts are love poems to the universe.
    • View Profile
    • Tales of Starlit Lands
Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2015, 10:00:49 PM »
Omg that's a long thread.  I'll actually have to pay attention.  :o

But, it sure gives a sense for what this takes.
And from that quick skim, I can say that I'd love us to reuse "Strange Brews" (plural).
I like the idea of squares or heptagons or whatever.  Dodecahedrons? Probly too much.
I second my own idea about time for a cycle of participation.  Three months could allow some solid interaction, progress on a book, etc.  At the end, we get to opt out or juggle things or whatever.

The trick is how to get started, both from a forum tech pov and in terms of how people join and we form groups.
Last time A2M apparently got the tech framing in place - is Arry stuck with all that work now?

finally, when you veterans look back, was it just the  ongoing commitment that failed?  If the rules worked otherwise, then we have a solid framework to begin.
Change, when it comes, will step lightly before it kicks like thunder. (GRMatthews)
You are being naive if you think that any sweet and light theme cannot be strangled and force fed it's own flesh. (Nora)
www.starlit-lands.com

Offline Yora

Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2015, 10:48:14 PM »
I'm about to read the link to prior discussion, but wanted to offer a thought on failure and definition. 
"It will fail"". Yes, unless we define that failure as success :)
Oh yes, very much. To be succesful it does not have to go on until everyone has a completed book. I would assume over time both the usefulness of advice goes down as well as the demand for any more advice. At some point, structural and narrative advice will gradually morph into proofreading once you have nailed down the main story and it comes to polishing up the details. And that's to a very great deal simply stylistic preferences.
Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

There is nothing to read!

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2015, 04:30:46 AM »
I think I was in the most recent incarnation.

The problem, it seems to me, with that attempt was that relatively few people were serious about the endeavor, and thus most of the groups were down to 1-2 members after one or two rounds of critique.
Thus, I would suggest that if things are broken into groups, they are very large groups and they are pared down by attrition.
Or have one very large group, and let them organically form groups after having some experience that allows members to choose who they want to continue to work with.
I suggest that second approach.

I might be up for this. Depending on frequency/length of submissions, I might have more than one potential novel I could work on.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2015, 04:34:29 AM by jefGoelz »

Offline cupiscent

Re: Fantasy-Faction Writing Group
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2015, 04:33:53 AM »
I've participated in writers groups in the past, and am part of a regularly meeting trio. Groups and critiques are fantastic, not just for getting feedback, but in sharpening your ability to think critically about your genre and how to write it. I've also found them very handy in the past for giving me a deadline to finish the next chapter. However, now my writing is at the point where I tend to produce much faster than my group meets, so I'm faced with giving the group 25k words to read every month (a little daunting) or bringing "problem" chapters without the rest of the context. It's a tricky one.

I will say I think a key factor for success - as in any group endeavour - is having a clear idea both individually and collectively of what we will put into the group, and what we want to get out. The former is in terms of time and effort commitment - in signing up, you are committing to (for instance) critiquing at least one piece per week, three weeks out of every four, with critiques to be at least 300 words long, AND submitting a piece for critique every two weeks (or whatever). And/or showing up to a group chat session. This needs to be negotiated by the group so everyone is satisfied,  but also capable of meeting it.

The latter - what we want to get out of the group - is just as important. For instance, I tend to critique hard, really pulling a piece apart to try and give it as much oomph as possible. But if the author actually just wants broad advice and general encouragement to keep going, that's not going to make them enjoy or want to stick with the group. Similarly, if another reader just gives me "Love this, can't wait to see more", I'm going to wonder if this is a group I'm really getting value out of. So making matches of groups based on expectations and desired outcomes might be good.

I'm not sure genre is as important an organising factor in this group as it would be with some groups I've been in - workshopping speculative fiction with people who don't read it usually just leads to a whole lot of worldbuilding questions, but we're all various flavors of spec fic here, so we "get it". Getting a slightly varied point of view on your writing can sometimes be really helpful. Alternatively, matching up on things that we like and don't like within genre fiction might work (so the person who only likes comedic, romantic fantasy doesn't end up having to try to offer helpful critique on something military and grimdark...).

Finally: group numbers. Small numbers mean everyone really gets to know each other and build connections. Larger numbers mean not everyone has to play every time round, which might be easier to maintain.