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Writing Tip #11

Be kind to others’ children.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been involved in several fiction and writing groups in the Pittsburgh area. It’s a good time, getting that chance to open up and share with others, give and receive feedback.

I encourage all writers to find a group of people who they feel will help their work get better. It may take time; I feel like I’ve established that sort of relationship with several people from my groups because we’ve been doing this for years now. A few tips, though:

  • Know what you’re getting into. Do some homework. Ask people who are in the group or who have been a part of the group what types of writing people bring, what the standard etiquette is for attending (handouts or emailed a week before? Margin comments or specific questions?) and how people respond to certain types of criticism.
  • Start out with something nice. I adhere to this rule adamantly, and when I’m discussing a piece of writing, I always go into what works first. There’s always at least one good thing. Find it. Let the writer know that you don’t think it’s complete garbage (even if it is).
  • Be thoughtful. And by that, I mean, never say, “I liked it. It’s very nice/good.” For the love of God. Even worse, “I didn’t like. It just wasn’t my thing.” That does nothing for a writer. Why didn’t it work for you? What made it particularly effective? Back up your opinions.
  • Acknowledge that there has been at least a decent amount of time put into every piece of writing. Even if it is complete drivel, he or she took the time to put the words on paper, bring copies or send it out and mentally prepared themselves to go under your literary knife. It’s all Golden Rule crap you’ve certainly heard before: play nice.
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