Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Between the pages, Past
A Mystery Column
By Dennis Collins

Writer's Groups

A lot of people, me included think that just about everybody has at least one book in them. Drawing it out and into print can be a real challenge though. Writing a book has all sorts of rules that nobody except authors need to worry about. It’s been generations since you’ve been in a classroom and you really don’t want to go back. So how do you learn about all this stuff?

The answer just might be joining a writer’s group. The typical group is made up of both published and unpublished writers and they’re all willing to share their experiences and even their secrets. Depending on the size of the group you hook up with, you should see a pretty good cross section of the overall writing community. The group that I belong to has a number of published authors, a former newspaper editor, a couple of school teachers, a graphic designer, a photographer, and several aspiring writers. And we’re in a rural community. At our meetings we discuss techniques as well as guidelines and offer critiques of each others work. From time to time we offer prompts, usually three random words for members to build a story around and then compare them at a later meeting. But most of all we offer one another our support.

One member of our group came to us with just his father’s prisoner of war journals from the Second World War and a Will Rogers knack for story telling. The guy had no real writing experience but had an inspiring story to tell from the perspective of a survivor as well as those who worried about him from their stateside homes. All of us in the writer’s group pitched in with whatever we could offer and the result was a fascinating book titled Fortresses that continues to sell at a very respectable pace.
Writer’s groups are easy to find on line and are usually associated with your local library. Many do not charge any dues and are quite informal. All are welcoming. If you’re interested in writing or only curious, I’d strongly recommend hooking up with your local group.

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