Shoreacres gave a good and trenchant response to my post on writing groups: “Here’s the key phrase in your post: …having a good writer look at your own stuff…. ” and goes on to say, “(I)f we’re going to listen to other voices, we need to choose those voices carefully.” See her blog at shoreacres.wordpress.com
As I said in the first ‘writing groups’ post, I’ve joined a couple of groups. I agree with shoreacres that we need to choose carefully. The hard part of ‘carefully’ has been, for me at least, not choosing just people whose writing I admire most. I love fine literary writing, and there are a couple of people in my writing groups who are great wordsmiths. Their critique of my stuff helps iron out the plodding bits. But I’m writing genre fiction, so I need to listen to folks whose work I don’t read by choice. In my quest for ‘comps’, which is to say, writers I can compare my own writing to in queries to agents and publishers, I’ve been reading a lot of mystery/suspense lately. Right now, I’m reading one by a best-selling author whose writing is considerably weaker than at least four (unpublished) writers in groups I’m in. The characters are square-chinned, chiseled cardboard, and the prose varies from workmanlike to plodding … but the plot drags me along. For me, it’s a lesson learned. Reading other genres exposes me to gag-me-with-a-spoon phraseology, but phraseology that’s appropriate to the genre (we’re talking chick-lit, here), but also to writing that has great mechanics (clear description in the right places, despite the heaving-breast breathlessness). So, I appreciate shoreacres’ insight and would only add that ‘good’ writers’ groups include all sorts of writers.