What we did for this meeting was write a short story of one thousand to five thousand words. You can find what I did in the last two posts on this blog. Five of the six at the meeting did the assignment. What we did was pass our stories around and actually read them out loud, then comment on each others; stories. I do not think that this completely qualifies as a classic "crit group" but it was about all the feedback I could handle on a first try. And I have to give the people at Border's their props, as they gave us free beverages. In order to show my grateful attitude, I took my free hot chocolate and bought a blueberry scone. I am a scone kind of guy, if the truth must be known. As soon as I got my scone, I saw that they also had apple crisp that looked quite yummy. So now I know that I have to get back to the group next time so I can snag myself an order of apple crisp. By the way, the scone was fine, and I'll let you know about the other desert after the next meeting. I suppose that this is not the BEST reason to attend a writers' group, but if it gets me writing and gets me to know other writers, does the REAL reason really matter? just kidding, of course.
What we did for the group was read our short stories. I think all five were pretty good, and all certainly had potential for achieving very good status. I thought that mine was pretty much in the middle of the pack, which was about all I was shooting for. It was not embarrassingly the most obviously worst story of the bunch, which to be honest was a concern I had. I was a little nervous wandering around the store beforehand knowing that my work would undergo the scrutiny of strangers. That is never a good feeling, especially if the strangers are in the same room as you are, at the same table, staring at you with their piercing, critical eyes.
My story was about a pair of guys at a bar and their attempts to pick up chicks. One character was sort of the decent normal guy with a pretty good style and rap, and the other was the shallow guy, the stereotypical skirt chaser kind of guy. I got good comments about how in a first person story, you could get a good feel about the attitude of both the narrator and the other character. Good comments about showing attitudes and personality traits as opposed to telling the reader that these factors existed. So that was positive. I did O K with dialog and author voice. The problems that my story had were with a few dialog tags and with the ending. I had to get the thing done on time, working on deadline and all that, and so I have to admit that I rushed it and cut off the ending a little quick so it would be done. But all in all, it did not stink at that was worth knowing. This was just the second short story that I have ever written, it is not my thing, I don't read them, I don't write them, but at its core writing is writing and I need to practice writing.
I liked the other stories, as well. Amy wrote a "Lemony Snickett" style story, and she nailed some of the distintive features of those books just right. Funny, pithy, and well written. Michele wrote a fan fic story based on the characters from Remember WENN. I have never seen the show, and never had any interest in seeing it. WIth that in mind, I was able to follow the story and understand the characters and their distinctive features. I could not imagine writing fan fic myself, but what she did seemed pretty good. I was able to follow it and enjoyed the style and the way her story unfolded. Kris wrote a family based story about a young girl with a bad dream. Hers was similar to mine in the sense that it started off with a bang and got rolling good, but I got the feeling she wrapped it up pretty quickly to get it done on time. And like mine, I bet that hers would be much better with just a little editing and tightening up. And Heather had a cool thing going with internal / external incongruities, a tale of a pistol-packing yoga instructor. Again, a lot of potential that a little bit of work could help bring out.
It was fun. I enjoyed it. I look forward to the next one.