Viz Comic and The Critics – Forget That, Writing Feedback Is Useful

Since Viz comic launched in 1979 it has become a staple of British life, harnessing smutty innuendo loved by the Carry On watching public, reinvented for the punk generation.

Regular readers will know The Critics, a couple who in this cartoon are delivering an excruciating and hilarious meta-commentary about Christmas.

Viz’s parody is an hommage to critique overall.

It reminds us of what we’ve heard about art, read in column inches about the latest album or film release and identify in those who ‘spout forth’ about every creative thing around them.

The Critics can deconstruct any art form including the written word.

Are there are times when critique can be positive?

When giving feedback about writing, yes there is.

In a talk hosted by Kingston University with Baroness Gail Rebuck of Penguin Random House, students of the MA in Creative Writing asked what was important to ‘get published,’ the holy grail of many.

The discussion centred on the art form of writing and ‘being good’ but it was also mentioned that in the MA programme, students are expected to do their part in promoting themselves and their work.

Author marketing, in other words

One of the early members of the Surbiton Writers Group who also holds a MA in Creative Writing said: “I’m not so good at all the promotion stuff that they expect you to do these days, I like the writing but, well, I know what I’m good at.”

They took part in our first writers circle in 2015 and at the moment all SWG members are thinking about critiquing afresh as our next feedback group is coming up.

How is feedback part of knowing the strengths of your work?

Like it or not, publishing is a business and a competitive one at that.  Even with MA’s in creative writing, those who are producing work are competing inside an industry that many thousands of writers populate.

Authors work, in the main, alone. It is just you, your imagination and your words. That makes for an isolating experience that is remote from the eye of potential readers.

Writing is a solo task 

Writers will have done a lot of thinking, creating, drafting and committing to their written ideas long before it gets to the point of deciding what they want to do with it.

Some ideas are left at the draft stage or the ‘in my head’ stage for weeks, months or years before they are ready for someone else to read them.

Some pop out more quickly and almost fully formed.

However it happens, in order to compete within the writing field it can be useful for others to read your ideas and give feedback to you.

Blind spots exist in everyone. Writers can be so wrapped up with ideas that often stumbling blocks are missed until it’s too late and they’ve run the risk of someone in the industry rejecting them.

Beta-reading for established and new authors 

Established writers seek out feedback as much as newbies.

Beta-readers are people who read drafts of work that are complete from the perspective of the writer and ready to be sent off for a competition or publication.

Beta readers are often professional writers themselves, they can command an income from their work and they know the writing business and the industry inside out.

The Surbiton Writers Group runs quarterly writers circles

We don’t offer beta-reading services but we do have a writers circle.

The writers circle, so called because we sit around a table together and discuss work, is a closed session.

In it we give detailed feedback to our members who are ready to take the next steps with their work.

Format of work 

There is a maximum word limit for any writing that is submitted for feedback. This helps people drill down and focus on having a meaningful discussion of work.

We take at least 2 hours to give verbal feedback and it’s supported by a summary written on paper for the writer to take away also.

The circle is open to members who have a skill, interest or commitment to developing others’ writing and interested in giving feedback both verbally and in writing.

Join us to find out more…

What critique isn’t

The Critics show the worst of what giving feedback can be like; pretentious, over-subjective and useless to anyone but themselves.

The SWG writers circle doesn’t do that. We focus on constructive feedback; that means feedback that the writer can really take away and use.

We pinpoint what areas work and what areas weren’t so successful for us as readers. We listen to the writer talking about their work too.

Our discussion intends to help the writer solve issues they themselves identify but also ones that a blind spot may have prevented them from seeing too.

At the end of our writers circle we hope that the writer has a clear road map as to what to do next, if one is needed.

We aren’t high falootin’ about it and don’t give feedback like The Critics.

At our writers circle people will know what their writing was like from the point of view of friendly readers – readerships are wide and varied and our group members are too!

We are like market research!

Writers circles for 2016 /2017

Our next writers circle on October 29th is already full, however we will be running more in 2017.

If you’d like to attend, contact surbitonwritersgroup@gmail.com and we’ll tell you what happens next.

There are always spaces around the table for new people who like reading and giving verbal and written feedback.

All we ask is that you devote the time to considering another person’s writing and like developing written work.

Want to join? contact surbitonwritersgroup@gmail.com.

Happy writing!

Copyright Surbiton Writers Group 2016. 

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SWG of 30th April Cancelled and Moved To 22nd May – Different Location – Different Time

We’re cancelling the SWG of 30th April and moving it to 22nd May. 
Readers note: we won’t be meeting in April!
That gives us lots of extra time for enjoying ourselves over the 30th April May Bank Holiday weekend and more time for writing though so it’s a win-win.
May 22nd SWG – Sunday Lunch – Coronation Hall Surbiton 
 
May 22nd is a Sunday. In 2015 we had a Sunday lunch at The Coronation Hall in Surbiton.
It was a fun meet-up and this year we are doing the same…
 
We have a table booked to accommodate us which is on the left hand side of the ‘Corry Hall’, as the locals call it.
For those of you who haven’t been yet, it’s an extraordinary building:
It was built in 1911 and used to house Surbiton’s Ritz Cinema. Inside it is decked out in cinema memorabilia and at the front it is light and roomy. The large windows look out onto St Mark’s Hill which runs down to Surbiton Station.
The Corry Hall has full disabled access also.
Location, travel, parking…
 
If you can get to Surbiton Station, you are there. 
 
Surbiton Station is very easy to reach by bus and rail. Nearby on Claremont Road is a Waitrose which has a car park. 
There’s also a car park on St Philip’s Road which is behind the main road, Victoria Road.
Time is different 11:00 am start
 
Because the Corry Hall gets full and lunch takes time, we’ll be meeting from 11:00 am. Last year we stayed on until past 3:00 so be ready for a proper lunchtime treat.
Websites – Bring your laptops 
 
We’ll have plenty of time to look at websites / blogs and author marketing which was planned for 30th April. 
 
Please remember to bring your laptops and it’s a good idea to make sure they are fully charged.
 
Sharing work – critique and advice 
 
Please do also bring along any ideas or work you would like to share with the SWG.
That’s all for now folks and Happy writing!
The Surbiton Writers Group 2016. 
Contact us: surbitonwritersgroup@gmail.com

Surbiton Writers Group Talks: Pearls Of Wisdom About Writing Success From Author Peter Wells

“Through fiction you can talk about your observations in life in a way that resonates with other people,” said Peter Wells  in yesterday’s talk on publishing success to the members of the Surbiton Writers Group. 

Although he has always been passionate about literature and writing, Peter’s publishing success started one morning in 2011 when he had an inspiration for a new story.

The inspiration itself was not unusual: since the early days when he took a degree in English Literature at Manchester University his imagination was full, but this story was different – it made him start a blog.

His blog Counting Ducks was born from a desire to write in a way that others can find and read.

Reading ‘Ghost Of A Love Affair’ and ‘A New Bard Strides Forth’ from Counting Ducks prompted some to sit back and shut their eyes to fully enjoy his prose and from both pieces Peter’s signature style was clear.

Whether bitter-sweet, he prefers the word ‘melancholy’, or laugh-out-loud funny, his writing style is wordsmithery and imagination mixed with universal truths.

Peter divides up his writing into 2 types; humorous and not-humorous, but his advice about writing both is clear: “always be real, tell the truth, read, read, read, write every day and be serious about your writing.”

“People want to read things that are real because it connects them to your writing,” he advised.

The work and objective of writing a blog was not to be underestimated to the world of publishing.

Garnering over 5000 followers in the years since that first post in 2011, it was this following coupled with the quality of his writing that attracted the attention of his publisher.

Now writing his 3rd book, he’s learned a lot along the way. He says he is “fanatically interested”  in developing characters and for him it is one of the most important aspects of getting his writing right.

But writing is a business and without a following and a market, a term called ‘audience’, publishers may think twice about investing in your work no matter how original and good it is.

“How do you build your audience?” asked one SWG member.

“Get to know people who read your writing,” he said, “look at your website stats, your blog will tell you what is working.”

“Be polite, treat social media as you would if you were saying ‘hello’ in real life and like and comment on other writers blogs,” he added.

His final words come down to attitude and polish.

“For every finished piece of writing there are hours of editing and honing it until it’s complete,” he said. “Never ever ever publish something until it’s perfect,” he added.

He tells himself: “nobody is interested, you have to get them interested.”

Success has come quickly for Peter and is well deserved.  You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter and like Counting Ducks here.

Follow our blog to keep up to date with our news and events and join us by emailing surbitonwritersgroup@gmail.com

© Carrie Henderson 2015

SWG Members Talks: Challenge Yourself To Open Doors With Your Writing – Peter Wells, Author, 6th February. .

Challenge Yourself To Open Doors With Your Writing – A Talk With Peter Wells, Author. 

Saturday 6th February, 12:30 -2:00. 

Peter Wells, author of Living Life Backwards and The Man Who Missed The Boat writes an enormously successful blog, Counting Ducks, the springboard to his publishing success.

In the 4 years since he started writing professionally, he’s gone from strength to strength. He has learned a lot along the way which he likes to pass on to other writers, mentoring them and helping them achieve the same.

“It wouldn’t have happened had I not written Counting Ducks,” he said. “I’m passionate about writing, and I want everyone to achieve excellence,” he adds.

Peter is a humorous and enjoyable speaker who has run popular talks in the past. He will be telling his story – which he calls his ‘route map’ – as well as pass on those crucial snippets of information that all serious writers need to know.

Author Marketing

The power of social media and how vital blogging is to building an audience will be an important focus of his talk.

Ask Peter – Q and A time 

There will be time at the end for a Q&A with SWG members to pick his brains and learn more about the secrets of his success.

This talk is open to Surbiton Writers Group only.

Numbers are limited and it will be popular, so please ensure you RSVP via the main email address to ensure your place in the session.

Attendees need to arrive on time as the talk will start at 12:30. 

Attendance is free. If you haven’t already joined the SWG and would like to attend,  email us at surbitonwritersgroup@gmail.com.

Happy writing! 

The Surbiton Writers Group 2015