Writers Groups

I still feel my heart racing and my voice going a bit shaky, but reading my novel at writers’ groups is the real litmus test (well, that’s before going to an agent or publisher that is!). writers_block_400[1]

If, like me, you often doubt yourself and your work, it is a great confidence boost when your writing works and it gets a favourable response.

But it’s when it doesn’t go that well that you can make real progress. You know there are problems when you see people shifting in their seats and writing copious notes!

While it can be difficult to hear criticism, it is, in my experience, well meant and constructive. It has improved my work immensely.

Often I can spot the problems myself just by reading it out loud – parts that are too long, too laboured, that have too much description, too much dialogue, etc.

People in the group can spot other problems – to do with points of view, pace, emotional impact, character issues, cliches and nuts-and-bolts mistakes.

For me the other night, I was told that a key chapter lacked emotion and that the tone of the piece was an issue. I must look into tone. If anyone has any tips/links on tone, it would be great.

As I write this, there’s another plus to these groups: the social aspect. It’s the meeting up, the networking, the feeling you are part of a community, that there is help out there. It also gives you a fillip, to keep going, to keep going better (as the man once said, kind-of).

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About Cormac O'Keeffe

I am writing my first novel. It's a crime novel, a thriller set in Dublin's gangland, along the evocative Grand Canal. This blog is about my journey. And other things, like fiction reviews and non-fiction reviews, many of them published in the Irish Examiner, a daily national newspaper in Ireland. I work as crime and drugs reporter there, and have been since around 2001. Both my personal life and my professional life have fed into my novel, or, rather, have poured into it. My novel was granted a literature bursary by the Irish Arts Council in September 2014 and my journalistic work has won multiple awards from the Law Society of Ireland over many years, most recently in 2015.
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