I was excited up until the meeting time came, and then I became a little nervous. Seven writers, including one group leader, attended the critique of my short story True North. I am including a synopsis at the end of this post in case you were interested.
We routinely start our 3pm meeting late in order to give people stuck in traffic time to arrive so that the writer has as many people in attendance as possible. When waiting gave two people time to argue, I suggested starting (it was 3:30pm).
Our group gives feedback in two rounds. In the first round, people are asked to stick to one thing they liked and one thing they didn’t/would suggest/had questions about. The writer is expected to listen, not talk. In the second round, comments are open to everyone. The writer is able to answer questions on a limited basis in case this is part of a larger story.
For the next hour and fifteen minutes, I had the best time! Many of the comments during the first round had me laughing out loud. Because I knew more than they did, some of the comments were inadvertently funny because they were trying to understand something about the story. One critic had detailed knowledge about stars and time that I had not considered when writing. Others gave suggestions on questions I had, or brought my attention to things that I did not adequately explain.
The strengths of the story as told by my group include the prose, the pacing, the strength and the initiative of the main character. Some suggestions were making it not so over the top and suggestions for working details in the main character’s story.
All in all, I loved it. The other writers in this group are thorough and thoughtful. I enjoy almost everyone in the group (12-15 people total), and that’s saying a lot about the calibre of these writers. I ended up feeling energized to go back into the story and make changes that will most definitely make my story even stronger.
Short Story Synopsis
True North is about a teenager, Trixie Dixon, from the wrong side of the tracks in the South. Raised by an alcoholic, single mother who is unable to work, Trixie survives petty peers, mean teachers, and sexual assault. Trixie’s attempts to find safe places to do her homework brings a middle school mentor back into her life. Will he be able to help her escape her impoverished environment and become the writer she dares to dream?