An Ohio Valley Support Group While Learning the Business of Writing
Sunday, November 15, 2009
NOTES: Third Meeting, 10-12-09
by a very tardy Jason
— Our writers’ group meetings will perpetually be scheduled for the third Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Books-a-Million cafe at The Highlands
— Writers are encouraged to submit any topic ideas that they want to discuss at future meetings on this blog (preferably through a brand new post, rather than a comment).
— Similarly, writers are also encouraged to submit any recommendations, comments or complaints pertaining to our meetings so we can discuss them at future gatherings in an effort to improve our group.
— A few writers in the group recommended keeping “The Elements of Style,” by Strunk & White, on your desk because it has so many essential (and basic) tips that every writer should know. While discussing this, Fred said we should avoid using the passive voice in our writing. Someone at our meeting called it “a deal-killer.”
— Another writer recommended using the “OWL writing book,” but even after an online search, I’m not sure I found the specific book referred to in the meeting. There were several, writing-related books or programs that use the same acronym, so if someone could add a comment onto this post to specify the book, that would be great.
— We discussed how if you’re going to write under a pen name, when you submit your query letter, you’ll write: ___your name____ writing as ____ pen name ______.
From Jo’s Presentation on Online Writing Classes
— Jo personally feels the Writer’s Digest classes are the best value. They cost about $200 for a smaller class. Classes can range from 6 weeks to 6 months. Advanced writing classes are more expensive: about $600 (with a discount)
— She said she learned a lot more from these classes than her comparable, college-credit classes
— Jo said the classes are structured where you can work one on one with a published author, and that person’s experience can yield a wealth of knowledge.
— The way it works is you read bids and choose your instructor, and there’s never more than 8 people in a class at a time.
— The classes are very helpful and educational. You may think you know a lot already, but you may learn otherwise, so don’t be sensitive, Jo said.
— You can get a professional’s view of the business
— Your classmates can critique your writing (there’s an optional critic’s corner)
— Jo said this process ultimately helped her to gain confidence and trust herself
— She said the classes aren’t overly demanding, initially. Assignments can be anywhere from 250 to 2,000 words.
— But Jo took an accelerated course, and those are much more difficult to keep up with.
— You can have a compact 3-week class or have the same material spread out over 5 months.
— As you get into more advanced writing, you may be required to write 10,000 words every 3 weeks.
— Jo has worked out a schedule with her family, where her husband has helped allot her a specific time to write each week.
— Jo stuck with Writer’s Digest, but there are other similar courses, such as Gotham Writers Workshops, Writing Classes.com, Writers Village.com, etc.
— Jo’s favorite is Writer’s Digest. She said they also offer a query letter class, getting an agent class, etc.
Re: Writing Contests: Jo said reviewfuse.com has a monthly contest, and the site has interesting critiquing methods.
At the meeting, Jo distributed various hand-outs with information about the online writing classes, as well as the writers’ contests.
Brief Report on Nearby Writers’ Conferences:
Rich looked into writers’ conferences that are within a day’s drive of the Ohio Valley. He said many of the usual suspects are victims of the sagging economy and are currently on a hiatus for the time being. But Rich said the W.V. Writers’ Conference at Cedar Lakes has a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. I think he said it was scheduled for the first or second week in June.
Rebecca, a publisher, spoke briefly about her life in the business. At our next meeting on Nov. 16, she’ll be giving a 10 min. presentation about publishing, but at our previous meeting, I noted a few of her comments:
— She started publishing in 2005.
— She edits books and also has a group of editors
— Rebecca, who’s a Christian book publisher, noted the importance of being familiar with your book’s characters, even intimate details such as their religious convictions.
— She said authors were welcome to approach her directly; they wouldn’t have to go through an agent. In fact, she hasn’t had her authors work through agents. She already gets plenty of direct submissions.
— Rebecca said she can tell by page 3 if an author has a grasp or good control of his or her story.
— Rebecca said a big deal-breaker was having erroneous, point-of-view mix-ups in your story.
The purpose of this organization is to offer support and encouragement to local, fellow writers, as well as seeking to learn more about the business of writing and specifically, how to get published. We also hope our writers' fellowship will inspire one another to write more.