MeFi Writing Group June 26, 2011 7:25 AM   Subscribe

There have been at least two previous MeFi writers' groups but there is not one now. Is anyone interested in forming one?

For previous groups see these threads.

I can see two ways of doing this (there may be more that I haven't thought of) - through a Google group or through Quilliant. For Quilliant see this article - you can set up your own group, membership by invitation only. I haven't been part of an online writing group before so if you have and have experience of what works please comment, even if you don't want to join this one.

I can't find much specific guidance about online groups. There is this discussion and some detailed guidance here (discussed in the first link). There are some questions here.

I have been in three face-to-face writing groups and the guidelines for those have been fairly basic: everyone to contribute both text and critiques, criticism to be constructive, recipients of criticism to respond without hostility. An online group may need more specifics about, for instance, the length of texts submitted, though the critters guidelines linked above seem too detailed to me, particularly the credits scheme.

I'd like to see a MF group be more than critiques alone, with discussion of techniques, comments about research sources or resources on writing that people have found useful, links back to MF if people have posted links or asked questions relating to writing, and possibly challenges of some kind. I'd also like non-fiction to have a place on the group.

Please discuss in this thread if you are interested. If a consensus is reached about whether and how to start a group it may be worth switching discussion of details and guidelines to the group itself.
posted by paduasoy to MetaFilter-Related at 7:25 AM (39 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

Why are the earlier ones defunct?
posted by pracowity at 7:59 AM on June 26, 2011


The only writing groups I've ever been a part of that had any staying power had someone with a strong vision of what they wanted the group to be who drove the process, making the major decisions on what to do and how to do it, and continually setting out the activities for the group. They did this not because they didn't care what other people think, but to keep the whole thing from getting bogged down in committee or ignored in a 'well, if people aren't interested then I'm not going to X' sort of way.

If you're that person, and you have a vision and are willing to be the driving force, pick whichever process seems best/easiest/most useful to you, and start it up. People will follow a leader where ever they choose to go. People without a leader will just mill about uselessly until eventually they wander off.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:04 AM on June 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


Just dismiss the MeFi mag.
wait, sorry, they are not a "group" they
actually produce something.

good luck though.

not a group group
posted by clavdivs at 8:26 AM on June 26, 2011


People will follow a leader where ever they choose to go
In the world of Literature, no. Perhaps readers. I think the rest is pretty spot on.
posted by clavdivs at 8:29 AM on June 26, 2011


Just dismiss the MeFi mag.

To be fair Clavdivs, I don't think Paduasoy is dismissing the Mag, or even considering it. That's a different thing, a good thing, but not the same as a writing group. I assume that a large part of a writing group is the developmental side of things, building on your skills as a writer, taking and learning from criticism, etc., as opposed to having an end goal of, say a published magazine. They are both good things, and I don't see why they can't live side by side.
posted by Elmore at 9:12 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Just dismiss the MeFi mag.
wait, sorry, they are not a "group" they
actually produce something.

good luck though.


miss jackson if you're nasty.
posted by liketitanic at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I typically only miss Jackson when I julep, but, okay.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 9:43 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


of course, a great idea. Though I have to stick with pracowitys' question as to happened to the other groups. I think I pushed for one and wanted Migs and Languagehat to be editorial management and guidance, but they are busy folks, not to say there are others who could do this and do it well, I just like the product end of writing when it concerns Mefi.

If I understand the OPs goal, it is more then critque, the ole pass-around. Something more layed then the mere process of writing. The inclusion of non-fiction seems interesting.
posted by clavdivs at 9:58 AM on June 26, 2011


The only writing groups I've ever been a part of that had any staying power had someone with a strong vision of what they wanted the group to be who drove the process, making the major decisions on what to do and how to do it, and continually setting out the activities for the group. They did this not because they didn't care what other people think, but to keep the whole thing from getting bogged down in committee or ignored in a 'well, if people aren't interested then I'm not going to X' sort of way.

Man, this saves me from having to use a question on ask.metafilter about why my current group is puttering out.

Unfortunately, I'm in like 2 other groups, so despite my instinct to join MOAR WRiTING GROUPS MOAR!! I probably shouldn't join this one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:01 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am here to show interest. Not necessarily skill.
posted by Splunge at 10:12 AM on June 26, 2011


I'm in a face-to-face writing group that I unofficially call the Lazy Novelists' Deadline Club. We do much less critiquing and much more just providing peer pressure to have something to show once a month - for that, it's great. I'm not sure I actually want more detailed critiques at this point in my writing - I don't have anything that's in a late enough draft that it'd be worth showing.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


We do much less critiquing and much more just providing peer pressure to have something to show once a month...

I'd be interested in a group like this for metal/wood-working. Like an online hackerspace, I guess. It's too easy to be like "welp! I guess I can't do ANYTHING in the workshop until THAT ONE TINY TOOL arrives! time for some TV!"
posted by DU at 10:51 AM on June 26, 2011


Have hought of doing this from time to time.. Here's how I would do it:

Decide on a focus for the group. My preference would be for short stories, because I like'em, think they're an excellent way to build your writing muscles and they take less to read, i.e. critique. Want to work on your novel? That's fine, but this isn't the group for that. In the meantime, short stories it is.

Then I would find one or preferably two other Mefites who want to do this sort of online writing group and have a couple of short stories under their belt. Why? 'cause you want writers to start with. Not people who talk about writing or want to be writers, but people who have produced something.

After that, create a Google Group, because it's cheap and easy. Decide on a regular "critque time" i.e. when submitted stores are available to the group for submission. Once a week, twice a month, whatever, so there's a regular established time for people to show up, read and critique. These would not be publicly available.

Then I'd make a MeTa post announcing that MeFi Writer's group for short stories has been formed and the first day of critiquing will be on X day. Submissions would be taken until Y days before X day. Come critique day, I know there'd be at least 2 or 3 stories from the MeFites who also started the group. Then we'd see how things go, whether others submitted stuff, how the critique went and go from there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:51 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Short stories sounds good. I'd be in on that.
posted by Splunge at 2:48 PM on June 26, 2011


Why are the earlier ones defunct?

The curse.
posted by TwelveTwo at 5:54 PM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would be very, very, very interested in this. I enjoy writing a great deal, and I've been doing more and more of it recently, but I only have a few short fiction stories. I've been doing a lot of flash fiction as liberal arts push-ups, though. In case that means anything. Which it doesn't.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:54 PM on June 26, 2011


I used to be a regular on misc.writing.screenplays. A lot of folk who were on there at the same time as me became professional writers. It was very helpful, both in terms of craft and business. This was years ago (1997ish) but I probably wouldn't have made it into the business without that group.
posted by unSane at 6:54 PM on June 26, 2011


I'd be interested in a group like this for metal/wood-working.

I'd be interested in this too, if someone else set it up.

Also, I'd be interested in a writing group.
posted by drezdn at 9:31 PM on June 26, 2011


I'm interested
posted by sweetkid at 10:57 PM on June 26, 2011


I make that around 6 people interested.

As for why the groups died before, I wasn't in on them, but looking at the comments these seem to be the issues:

carsonb: MeFiWriGro was snark-free, only there wasn't too much constructive criticism....nor many submissions. It just fizzled. It was also theme-based and had length restrictions, so there was lots of niggling over the rules/format.

jack_mo: Yeah, the problem with the first writers group was too much meta-faffing with rules (and maybe the weblog-like format, and the lack of participants, and, er, me forgetting to post themes on time...) but folk were reluctant to go freeform and just post whatever they happened to be working on. The Vox attempt also looked rather complex.

treepour (about online groups in general): Giving constructive feedback on creative writing can be an incredibly delicate task. Online, you have to work too damn hard to make sure that nothing you say will be taken the wrong way.

There's also ShotgunMuse (Projects) wch has or had some MF members.

I think that a group ending doesn't mean it wasn't a success - two of the groups I've been in defuncted, but I still learnt things from them.

My experience with groups has nearly all been with short stories, but I don't see why we couldn't also do extracts from longer work (and non-fiction). I've less experience with poetry in groups but again don't see a problem in trying.

I take the point about someone needing to do the leadership thing, but I guess I was hoping for a more self-policing approach. I'm happy to admin, thrash out any rules with others, kick myself to participate frequently, remind people of deadlines, tasks, guidelines etc, but like most of us am short of time and would need others in the group to be active too.

My current feeling is that I'll leave it for the rest of the day and see if anything else comes up in the comments here, and then go ahead and set up a group (either Google or Quilliant) and let people know how to join. I think we should keep rules fairly basic (people need to participate in both critique and submissions, constructive criticism, some kind of length guidance). It might be worth starting with a theme in order to kick it off with new writing, and that will give us a sense of whether themes work for the group.

Feel free to MeMail if you want to comment and would rather not do that online.
posted by paduasoy at 12:58 AM on June 27, 2011


I suppose I should also say that I'm up for chattiness in the group - people posting about writing techniques, online stuff related to writing - not just here's a chunk of words / here is what I think about your chunk of words. That may not work but seems to me the more participation there is of almost any sort (except snark or completely irrelevant) the more likely the group is to work.
posted by paduasoy at 1:04 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead of having people discuss entire stories, maybe you could limit submissions to very short passages, a couple hundred words at a time, with an introductory sentence as needed to describe the context. Focus readers and writers on words, sentences, and paragraphs. Untangle a sentence. Let the gas out of a bloated paragraph. Make a dialog sound like two people talking.
posted by pracowity at 1:43 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The idea of short non-fiction interests me. If I can't write well about reality I consider it much harder to write convincing fiction.
posted by adamvasco at 3:26 AM on June 27, 2011


I'd like this too, though I think it would make sense to split off into (at least) fiction and nonfiction. People can of course belong to both groups, but I think they take a different skill set, and I have little to nothing to contribute, both in content and criticism, on the fiction side.
posted by Apropos of Something at 5:54 AM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another interested party here..

Agree with keeping the rules basic... too much faffing about is just a distraction from actual writing.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2011


I'd do this. Although I dunno about the 300-words-at-a-time idea. I can see many virtues in it, but I quite like having a sense of the scope and intent of the whole piece. It may be if you're only looking at a small part you'll want more of X when, if you look at the whole you'd know that you could completely chop out two paras of X because Y is the center and X merely a tangent.
posted by Diablevert at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2011


I am interested. I like writing and I have a few ideas going at the moment, but without deadlines I tend to just let them linger forever while I try to make them perfect (which of course never happens). So this would be good.

I think some sort of theme would be good (I write for them sometimes and the themes really help when I'm stuck -- they're just specific enough to be helpful yet just vague enough to allow a lot of freedom. Maybe an optional theme? Hm..
posted by Put the kettle on at 10:24 AM on June 27, 2011


I too am interested.
posted by DaDaDaDave at 10:32 AM on June 27, 2011


I used to be a regular on misc.writing.screenplays. A lot of folk who were on there at the same time as me became professional writers. It was very helpful, both in terms of craft and business. This was years ago (1997ish) but I probably wouldn't have made it into the business without that group.

I would definitely be interested in a screenwriting version of the group. But I lack the technical expertise to set up an online group. If anyone else is, I have lots of ideas on how such a group could be run.

In the meantime, if anyone is interested in swapping feature length scripts and notes, please feel free to memail me.
posted by cjets at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2011


I'm interested, but the devil is in the details, and that's what would determine my level of participation.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:21 PM on June 27, 2011


I'm interested.
posted by angrycat at 9:11 PM on June 27, 2011


I'm also interested. Seconding the "devil in the details" bit. I've got a couple of ideas I've been trying to motivate myself on, so it would be nice to have some goals to meet and folk to critique/explore with -- I would be willing to dedicate some time under the right circumstances.
posted by atlatl at 7:12 AM on June 28, 2011


How about: themed writing assignments with a hard 15 page limit, staggered such that individuals in the group itself don't wind up with having to helpfully comment on 200 pages of reading per week?

This could all be done on Google Groups. Each story could have its own thread.

I agree entirely that fiction and non-fiction should be separate. I personally am only interested in the fiction part, because I live in a world of fantasy and wonder.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:21 AM on June 28, 2011


Depending on how the final format shakes down, I'm up for this.

I like your idea that it could be a vehicle for general chewing the cud about the writing process, as well as for crits.
posted by reynir at 1:41 PM on June 28, 2011


I'm interested. Will this group meet offline? Because I live on the other side of the world.
posted by pleasebekind at 3:29 AM on June 29, 2011


Sorry about my delay in coming back. My internet died. It's up now (though the cat now thinks he has squatters' rights to my workroom chair, so am typing from the floor). Just off to set up a Google group. Please mefimail me with your email address if you want to be involved (or if you have said you are interested and have an email address on MF I'll invite you). We can discuss the suggestions about the details on the group.
posted by paduasoy at 11:42 AM on June 29, 2011


Interested. Also encourage people to consider MeFiMag as an adjunct/alternate way to advance their writing. it has actual editing, like editorial suggestions!!
posted by msalt at 12:01 PM on June 29, 2011


OK, I've set up the group and invited the 5 of you with working email addresses on MF. I make it 17 people who have now said they're interested. I have added these people to my contacts as co-workers in case it's helpful to have a list somewhere. If you are interested please MF mail me with an email address and I'll send you an invitation. I have set up the list as private. If you think you might be interested but are not sure, no prob - I can invite you and you can see what you think.

I'll post to the group now about ways we might do this - thanks for everyone's thoughts.
posted by paduasoy at 12:19 PM on June 29, 2011


Just to say the group is going well in this early stage (16 members). If you're interested in joining please MeMail me.
posted by paduasoy at 12:18 PM on July 3, 2011


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