Recently, I got together with four writers I met through ACFW and formed a writer’s critique group. It seems to be the thing to do for writers these days. Not only that, it seemed like everyone who won any sort of award at the ACFW Conference Banquet belonged to a critique group.
Now before I get too far, I don’t think a critique group is the end-all be-all of writers. There have been plenty of writers with successful careers without a critique group.
That said, I think they can potentially be a great tool for writers.
I’ve been in a handful of critique groups before my current group, but the best one—and the one which I compare all others too—was a group we called The Four Horsemen immediately after I graduated from Southern Mississippi with my Creative Writing degree. Though we began as four: myself, my good friends Tony Fortenberry and Barry Gregory, and a guy I’d recently met, Mark McElroy (who now has several books to his name!). A few meetings later, Tony’s younger brother Thomas joined us, making us the five Four Horsemen. Yeah, we always laughed about that, too.
But what a fantastically creative group it was. My history with Barry goes back longer than any other non-familial person. I met Barry while we were in the 6th grade. We became friends because of our common love for comic books. Barry and I began creating comics together around that same time.
But I lost contact with Barry when I transferred schools (not a move, a new school district was created and I went to it: Northwest Rankin) and heard from him infrequently until a couple of years into college.
Tony I met while at Hinds Jr. College and he was to be my roommate when I transferred to USM. Unfortunately, he bailed and split to a job in Florida. Thomas, I grew close to after Tony left—yeah, we talked about him a lot! Ha
I don’t remember when Barry returned to Mississippi (he’d gone to school in Utah), but he was there in 87 when I met Mitch Byrd and Steven Butler and began to build Silverline. Tony returned after the Silverline comics started hitting the stands. And Thomas came to college down in Hattiesburg, so we were all there.
A writing group just made sense.
It is my opinion that some very good writing—and learning—came out of that experience, which regrettably didn’t last very long. However, I saw some good writing and I know that I learned a lot and it was an incredibly positive experience for me.
My writing is some of the first up this week, our first week, and I’m looking forward to learning and growing again as a writer. I also hope that I can take any of my experience and exuberance and translate online.
The group I’m in now doesn’t really have a name, but I met all four writers in Minnesota: Stuart Stockton, Preacher, Samuel Choy and Diego Pineda. What we had in common was that we each had completed manuscripts we were trying to sell. The cool news is that Diego has already signed with an agent…can one of the others be far behind?