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View Full Version : Seeking Interested JREF Members to Start a Writers Group


Phil
16th October 2003, 11:50 AM
Through discussions in various other threads, it has become clear that in addition to all the teachers, scientists, historians, lawyers, doctors, etc. that are members of the JREF Community, there are also many writers. One of the most valuable tools a writer can use to improve his or her work, whether a fiction or non-fiction writer, is a good critique/discussion group. This thread is meant to gauge interest in a group compiled of writers, editors, proofers, etc., that post to these forums.

How will this group work?

If there is enough interest, the group will interact via the Internet. Obviously, we are spread out all over the world, so logistically the best that we can hope for with a group of this nature is to engage in electronic correspondence.

My idea here is to establish an email distribution list. The list will be used once a month by each member, in turn, to distribute an item of their writing for the group to critique and/or discuss.

So for instance, if I were to start, I would send an email to the group with a piece of my writing attached --- a chapter of a novel, a short story, magazine article, what have you --- and the group would respond with constructive criticism, questions, praise, etc. Shortly before the end of the month (only if I am not averse to doing so), I would post a thread (not the entire item mind you) on this board to allow the item to be discussed in a forum setting. At the beginning of the next month, the next group member in line would send out a piece of their work, and the process would start all over again.

Since so many others outside the group would be privy to it, the forum discussion at the end of the month would be strictly voluntary, and a decision not to participate in such is completely understandable.

Now depending on the size of the group, how fast we return our critiques, and how much fun we’re having, we may be able to do two distributions a month, or even three. And if the group is too large, we might have to break it into smaller groups. We'll just have to learn these types of things as we go.

What do I do if I'm interested?

If you are interested, send me a Personal Message with your email address included (I promise I will not sell it to any marketing entities, or give it to anyone outside the group). I'll compile the list, and get back to everyone via email, and in this thread with how things shape up and when we can start exchanging material.

What would the group be called?

In the meantime, we can use this thread to come up with an idea for a name; something that we can use to identify ourselves, so when email comes into your inbox, you won't think it spam and delete it, and also to make communications from the group on the forum easier to discern.

So if you're an interested writer, do two things:

1) PM me with your email address, and

2) Use this thread to nominate names for the group.

After a couple of days, we'll put the top nominations to a vote.

Writers, this is our opportunity to benefit from the experience and intelligence of other writers in this community. Let's get started.

Chaos
16th October 2003, 02:29 PM
For easier identification, we should consider putting "JREF" somewhere in the name.

For that reason, I propose the (very prosaic) name

JREF writers´ group


Chaos

Phil
16th October 2003, 02:33 PM
One nomination and a bump of the thread. Noted, Chaos.

Phil
16th October 2003, 09:44 PM
Bump. In case you're not checking the Lit & Arts forum.

So far six have expressed interest.

Scott
16th October 2003, 11:38 PM
What type of writing would be suitable for the group? I do a lot of technical stuff that I could use some feedback on before submission.

Phil
17th October 2003, 07:07 AM
Originally posted by Scott
What type of writing would be suitable for the group? I do a lot of technical stuff that I could use some feedback on before submission.
If the technical aspects are beyond the expertise of the group, we may not be of any help in that regard. But if yours is a situation where you need feedback on language and structure and those types of things, for sure join in.

BTW we are at 8 members as of this posting.

Phil
17th October 2003, 11:18 AM
As of this posting, the group is steady at 10 people.

bumparooo

Phil
18th October 2003, 03:24 PM
Weekend bump.

TwoShanks
19th October 2003, 03:05 PM
I might be interested, if nobody minds reading my 1000 word crap short stories that I write once every six months or so.

Melissa Johnson
20th October 2003, 08:11 AM
Bumping, 'cuz it's monday and I feel like it, and it's raining here to beat the band.

Supercharts
20th October 2003, 08:28 AM
I only write short porno fantasies about Renata. If that’s OK count me in.
;)

Phil
20th October 2003, 08:32 AM
13 members as of this posting.

FYI: I'll wait a few more days for responses, and then we'll get started. We should be able to easily make the first distribution by Nov 1.

Phil
24th October 2003, 07:48 AM
Another question about distributed material has been raised: How long should submissions to the group be?

You should send out what you feel comfortable with. Just keep in mind that this is not a full-time job, and the rest of the people in the group have lives outside of this community. If you send too much, they don't have to, and probably won't have a chance to critique the entire thing.

Use your best judgement. Aside from professional editors and agents, I personally would never ask anyone to critique more than 20,000 words at one time.

Nyarlathotep
24th October 2003, 07:57 AM
Originally posted by Phil
Another question about distributed material has been raised: How long should submissions to the group be?

You should send out what you feel comfortable with. Just keep in mind that this is not a full-time job, and the rest of the people in the group have lives outside of this community. If you send too much, they don't have to, and probably won't have a chance to critique the entire thing.

Use your best judgement. Aside from professional editors and agents, I personally would never ask anyone to critique more than 20,000 words at one time.

That sounds fair enough. That's enough to get a good idea about what the person is writing but it doesn't require you to read someones entire novel.

Oh and I think we should stay as one group of 14. I think that the more voices giving you feedback the better, even if thatmeans you don't get to throw your own stuff into the fray as often.

Phil
24th October 2003, 08:04 AM
Originally posted by Nyarlathotep


That sounds fair enough. That's enough to get a good idea about what the person is writing but it doesn't require you to read someones entire novel.

Oh and I think we should stay as one group of 14. I think that the more voices giving you feedback the better, even if thatmeans you don't get to throw your own stuff into the fray as often.
I'm fine with one group. That keeps the burden down to one critique per month, give or take.

However, I would suggest that anyone with an emergency case or an approaching deadline, not be afraid to speak up and see if the group could give their work immediate attention.

Edit: For those unfamiliar with the Algonquin reference --- click here (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/algonquin_round_table.html).

LFTKBS
24th October 2003, 02:57 PM
Posting to get notifications.

Phil
27th October 2003, 07:39 AM
JREF Writer's Group Members:

So far there has been no more discussion about group size, nor have there been any volunteers to distribute material. So I'm bumping this thread to try and generate discussion.

If there are no further posts in the next couple of days, I will distribute some of my own material via email to everyone in the group as one group.

But please keep in mind, my goal was to form a writer's group and be a member, not the sole participator. This is your group. Don't be shy.

Chaos
27th October 2003, 07:51 AM
My two cent:

The group size seems okay. If the group grows to, say, 20 members, we might consider splitting it - or if we find during the first few distributions that discussions become too confusing.

Also, I had the idea we might split the group into sub-groups, but allow members to be part of more than one sub-group if the preferences of members (concerning literary genres) are too different - that way someone who, for example, doesn´t like SF&Fantasy won´t be bothered with such distributions.
However, this would only be useful if the individual subgroup were big enough - another idea for if our group grows much more, I guess.

And, I volunteer for the first distribution. I am almost finished with the first two chapters, which total about 6,000 words - this seems just about the right size for one distribution, depending on how much in-depth the critique is. Well, we´ll see.

Finally (re: my last E-mail) I extend my apologies to all those of you who do know Goethe and Schiller.

Phil
27th October 2003, 07:59 AM
Originally posted by Chaos
My two cent:

The group size seems okay. If the group grows to, say, 20 members, we might consider splitting it - or if we find during the first few distributions that discussions become too confusing.

Also, I had the idea we might split the group into sub-groups, but allow members to be part of more than one sub-group if the preferences of members (concerning literary genres) are too different - that way someone who, for example, doesn´t like SF&Fantasy won´t be bothered with such distributions.
However, this would only be useful if the individual subgroup were big enough - another idea for if our group grows much more, I guess.

And, I volunteer for the first distribution. I am almost finished with the first two chapters, which total about 6,000 words - this seems just about the right size for one distribution, depending on how much in-depth the critique is. Well, we´ll see.

Finally (re: my last E-mail) I extend my apologies to all those of you who do know Goethe and Schiller.
Great, Chaos! Thanks for volunteering.

I have actually had two more people in the last couple of days express interest in joining the group. Their participation would set the number of members at 16. So we can use your initial distribution as a test to see how it goes with 15 people responding. And probably not everyone will have the opportunity to critique or reply this first go round, so you may get as few as ten replies, maybe fewer.

Chaos, do you think you can have you chapters ready by the first of November? Don't mean to impose deadlines, but the first of each month would be a tidy way to schedule our distributions and replies. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

Mr Sagan
27th October 2003, 08:09 AM
[Edited for Extreme Content ~ Diezel]

Chaos
27th October 2003, 09:23 AM
@Mr. Sagan:
Mein lieber angeblicher Landsmann, wenn Du nichts Vernünftiges beizutragen hast, dann verp!ss Dich aus diesem Thread. Danke!

(Mr. Sagan, if you don´t understand my request, then just get lost from this thread - and this forum, while you´re at it)

@Phil:
No problem there. It´s just a few more sentences. I´ll send it ´round by Friday. Or do you want to do the distributing?

Phil
27th October 2003, 10:29 AM
Chaos,

As long as you've got all the email addresses, you can do the distribution from your computer. It's easier for us all to respond to just you that way.

Don't forget to use "JREF Writer's Group (November)" in the subject line.

Also, consider how to do the attachment. Most people here in the US can open a Microsoft Word file, but if you write using a more obscure word processing program, you might want to save your chapters as a plain text file and send them that way. You might lose a little formatting, but at least all the content will be available. Or if that is not an option, you can always just include the chapters in the body of your email. Whatever is easiest for you.

By the way, what is the deal with Mr. Sagan's post above?

Chaos
27th October 2003, 12:12 PM
First I need the new members´ E-mail adresses.

I use MS Word 2000. I think almost every text editor can view these.


I was telling "Mr. Sagan" (almost like blasphemy for such a troll to use this name, isn´t it?) in German:
My dear alleged fellow countryman, if you do not have something useful to add, please stay away from this thread.

He gave Germany as his location; I wanted to see if this was true. He probably thought he could fool us with pretend to be from somewhere else...

Phil
27th October 2003, 12:17 PM
Sounds good. I'll send out an updated email list in a couple of days. Certainly before Nov. 1. Just waiting on word from a couple of late comers who expressed interest.

Chaos
31st October 2003, 11:08 AM
It´s done *evil grin*

My distribution is out. Check your E-mail.


Chaos

Phil
3rd November 2003, 01:23 PM
Chaos,

I know it's only been a couple of days, but have you had any feedback from the group on your submission yet?

I've begun reading, and you can expect a full critique. I can say right now, however, that I think you've done a remarkable job translating for us non-German speakers. There are a few things that I think are results of the translation, and I'll point those out in my critique, but for the most part, you've done very well.

Thanks again for volunteering.

Chaos
4th November 2003, 01:55 AM
You´re welcome, Phil.

Three replies so far. Very positive, but still with useful hints.

Chaos
23rd November 2003, 11:57 AM
*bump*

December is looming over the horizon (or doing whatever else months usually do when they´re appproaching).

We should start thinking about who is the next victim...err...volunteer to distribute a text.

I´d also like to use this opportunity to that everyone who sent comments and/or critique. I appreciate it, it was very helpful, and it didn´t hurt too much ;).

NoZed Avenger
23rd November 2003, 04:51 PM
Chaos -- I am writing this from my work account -- my home internet access will be down for a few more days; but I do have a few comments that will be sent when my home computer has been switched over to a new internet provider.

Nyarlathotep
24th November 2003, 07:55 AM
Originally posted by Chaos
*bump*

December is looming over the horizon (or doing whatever else months usually do when they´re appproaching).

We should start thinking about who is the next victim...err...volunteer to distribute a text.

I´d also like to use this opportunity to that everyone who sent comments and/or critique. I appreciate it, it was very helpful, and it didn´t hurt too much ;).

I haven't done it yet (It has been a hectic month, both as far family and school life went), but I read it over the weekend and will probably send you a critique sometime this week.

Phil
24th November 2003, 08:13 AM
If no one else volunteers to send around some material for December, I have the first few (4) chapters of a book that sprang from ideas discussed right here on the JREF board. I'm excited about it and I'd be happy to go next, but please, don't hesitate to go ahead of me, if you have something. I don't want to monopolize the group.

Tell you what, if no one else volunteers by Friday, November 28, I'll make the next submission.

BTW: Does anyone have any thoughts on dividing the group into two smaller groups? Chaos, were you overwhelmed, or was the response to your distribution manageable? Should we leave things as they are?

Chaos
24th November 2003, 09:40 AM
To tell the truth, I was more underwhelmed. If I had really gotten 15 full in-depth critiques...yes, that might have been too much. But as it is, even with what NoZed Avenger and Nyarlathotep promised, it is very manageable.

I think we should let the group stay together for now, and see how December develops.

Phil
28th November 2003, 04:44 PM
All right, gang. The weekend is beginning, and no one else has volunteered to submit material for a December critique, so you're stuck with me.

As I said in a previous post, I have a few chapters of a new book I'm working on. Sometime Monday I'll attach the chapters to an email (in Word and text formats) and distribute.

Phil
1st December 2003, 09:28 AM
Originally posted by Phil
All right, gang. The weekend is beginning, and no one else has volunteered to submit material for a December critique, so you're stuck with me.

As I said in a previous post, I have a few chapters of a new book I'm working on. Sometime Monday I'll attach the chapters to an email (in Word and text formats) and distribute.
As of this posting, the December distribution is out for your reading pleasure.

Phil
11th December 2003, 11:45 AM
Hey, haven't heard from any of the writers lately. What's been going on? Anybody working on anything cool?

A little news to share with the group: I just received two rejection letters, each for a different book I have submitted to publishers. I got what appears to be more than a form letter though. One editor went so far as to compliment my writing style, but still had to pass.

Oh well. I'll be singing the blues for the rest of the day.

Nyarlathotep
12th December 2003, 07:51 AM
Originally posted by Phil
Hey, haven't heard from any of the writers lately. What's been going on? Anybody working on anything cool?

A little news to share with the group: I just received two rejection letters, each for a different book I have submitted to publishers. I got what appears to be more than a form letter though. One editor went so far as to compliment my writing style, but still had to pass.

Oh well. I'll be singing the blues for the rest of the day.

The only thing I have been working on for the last month is cranking out essays for some of my classes, but as of last night, class is over for the semester. Which is good because I have been so involved in writing and reading that I HAVE to do, that I have had no time for any writing or reading that I WANT to do.

THe last one I wrote for my literature class was an essay comparing Odysseus to "The Man With No Name" from all those Clint Eastwoods films. I think it was a cool idea but both the writing of the essay and my reading of The Odessey were rushed so I don't think it was all it could be.

Phil
12th December 2003, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by Nyarlathotep
. . . THe last one I wrote for my literature class was an essay comparing Odysseus to "The Man With No Name" from all those Clint Eastwoods films. I think it was a cool idea but both the writing of the essay and my reading of The Odessey were rushed so I don't think it was all it could be.
Iteresting comparison. How did it play out?

Nyarlathotep
12th December 2003, 03:59 PM
Originally posted by Phil

Iteresting comparison. How did it play out?

Well, I pretty much came to the conclusion that they were very alike in a lot of ways. Both may have worked for admirable goals but often used dubious means to pursue them. That was the gist of it anyway. It probably could have been a lot better than it turned out had I not procrastinated until the absolute last minute to write it. The professor of the class for which I wrote it is supposed to mail it back to me after he turns in his final grades, I guess I'll see how he liked it in a week or two.

Phil
16th December 2003, 02:18 PM
Hey folks, I don't have a lot of news to share, but we're halfway through December, and I thought it'd be a good idea to touch base with you all.

I know everyone is very busy during the holiday season, but I just wanted to let you all know that Roadtoad has volunteered to distribute some material to the group in January. So look for an email from Roadtoad shortly after the New Year.

Also, I started a new thread where we can go to discuss anything or bring up any group related issues and news. The new thread is here (http://www.randi.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=32384).

Why don't we use that new thread as our congregating point from now on?