Finally, I have joined a book club. I have been meaning to do so for years, but sometimes it is hard to get into established ones, who don’t necessarily want new members. And then I’ve been going to writing clubs rather than book clubs, because I’ve been trying hard to learn the craft of writing,
Joining a book club illustrates the notion that sometimes the best way to get what you want is not to go directly for it, but to meander off onto a side path. I joined writing clubs to get advice on my manuscripts, but have become more and more disappointed as my writing has gotten better. You see, most people who join writing clubs have half of a first manuscript they want to share. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. But for a writer who has passed the beginning stage, what is actually needed is advice from a professional. And the only way to get that is to pay to take craft courses, not to rely on well-meaning amateurs.
I’ve recently discovered that book clubs can be a blessing for those interested in practicing the craft of writing. Since you can talk about anything as long as it is related to the book under discussion, there is no reason why you can’t slip in a few craft questions about character, story arc or anything else. And the best part of it is that the people you are asking are your potential readers. These people don’t necessarily know much about craft. But they do know if they like the book, and can often articulate why this is so in great detail.
If you are a writer who feels frustrated with your writing group, my advice is to consider joining a book club. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Next: How what you don’t know about publishing can kill your book.
–Cynthia Haggard writes novels. She is currently seeking representation for HE MUST BE SOMEONE, a novel about identity, forbidden love and family secrets. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.