Rochelle has gifted us a re-run this week, to celebrate her anniversary leading us. I’m happy to take her up on it, so here’s the link to my story from October 2012.
She’s also challenged us to share some opinions about the group, so here are my two pet bugbears. Rider – they are just my opinions and are not intended to imply a criticism of anyone, least of all Rochelle, who does an incredible job of leading us.
1. I joined the Fictioneers a few years earlier, when Madison Woods led the charge and the group was much smaller. One of the things I liked most about it was the availability of honest and constructive critique among the members. It was a small group back then; many people read all the stories but Madison’s suggestion was to read at least five, and leave comments. Back then, I did that, and sometimes more, and made a point of giving detailed critique where I could. I got the same back.
Over the years, the group has grown, diversified and changed. One thing that’s changed is the nature of the comments I receive. Now they are mostly short, positive and story-focused (as opposed to writing-focused). If I’m honest, I vastly preferred getting better-thought-out critique, even if that meant fewer comments. I struggle to get out to in-person writing groups these days, so that feedback and education is hard for me to get elsewhere.
2. I agree wholeheartedly with Rochelle about serialised stories. To me, the point of the challenge is to create a new story each week and the deal you strike with the group revolves around it being a 100 word commitment from your reader. Asking them to go back and read (or remember) previous installments makes that much harder.
Having said that, I know I often write lengthy introductions and sometimes my stories are part of a series. To me, that’s different. In both cases, readers are very welcome to skip straight to the exactly 100 words of story and ignore the rest. The stories stand alone, and if they don’t, it’s because they have failed, not because I’m expecting readers to hunt for clues elsewhere.