Loudoun County Writers Group

Loudoun County Writers GroupThis past spring, I realized that I was getting really serious about my writing. One of my stories had failed to come together, but the next one was coming along extremely well. I wanted to get other viewpoints on my writing, hopefully informed viewpoints from other writers.

I decided to find out if there were any writing groups in my area. It turned out there was one. It was called the Loudoun County Writers Group. The group met every Saturday from 10:00 AM to Noon for the Saturday Morning Review. Once a month, they ran the Writers Workshop on Sunday at the same time, but at the Atanta Bread Company, a nice restaurant for breakfast/lunch. Group membership and the meeting schedule were coordinated using Meetup.

I decided to check them out further. I literally had no idea what to expect. Were they going to be a bunch of pretentious literary types? Or a dismal group of no-talent wannabes? Or, maybe, just a group of serious, hard-working, aspiring writers like myself?

The Saturday Morning Review was capped at 12 attendees, and the next one was full. The closest, upcoming event was the Writers Workshop the next day, so I registered for that. Even if the experience was negative, at least I’d get a good meal out of the Atlanta Bread Company.

I showed up early for the event and got myself a drink and a breakfast pastry. Then I sat down and waited to see if a group coalesced anywhere, figuring that would probably be the workshop attendees.

My plan worked. A few minutes later, I was one of seven people sitting around a couple of tables that had been pushed together. In the center, the organizer, Elizabeth Hayes, had placed a bunch of books that had something to do with the topic of Point of View (POV).

Over the ensuing two hours, we had a wide-ranging discussion of POV, as well as other writing topics. I had a lot of fun, and felt that I learned something from the discussion as well. Further, and this was a curious effect, I felt more like a writer. Here were people who were experiencing the same problems I was.

Granted, the attendees varied in what I perceived as their writing level, but some of them were clearly competitive with my own skill level. I seemed to have the edge on everybody there in terms of depth of knowledge of the science fiction field, although Elizabeth Hayes probably had me beat in the fantasy realm. She also knew more about The Lord of the Rings than anybody I had ever met. Interestingly, I had also met one of the attendees before. Beth Sadler had been in the same Writing Workshop as me at Capclave 2013.

Since the Writers Workshop had been such a positive experience, I decided that my next step was to attend a session of The Saturday Morning Review. I registered for the next session online. I also submitted my story, “Winter Roses,” for review.

The first five stories submitted each week by Wednesday at 11:00 AM were reviewed on Saturday. Each story, or chapter or fragment, was expected to be under 2000 words. All of the attendees would review all of the stories, discuss them on Saturday, and then hand the author of each story their notes.

Now, I submitted my story as a bit of a test. It’s really a speech. It takes about ten minutes to present. As a speech, it has some inherent limitations as a prose story. It’s locked into one scene, one POV, and has the narrator relating his feelings about some incidents in the past as his lover lies dying. In 1500 words, it’s a love story, a crime drama, a fantasy and a revenge tale.

I wanted to see how the group critiqued it, because that would really let me know how good they were. Essentially, I wanted to know whether this group was going to be worth the investment of my time.

For me to read and do a quality review of 8000 words per week (all the stories except my own) took about three hours. The meeting itself was going to last for two hours. That’s five hours per week out of my already hellacious schedule. Frankly, the group had to provide some tremendous value in order to be worth that much of my time.

Prior to the meeting, I had quite a good time reviewing the other stories. I learned a lot from what the other writers had done well, and also what they had not done well. I was able to write up what I felt were some very good notes for the other writers.

Next, I attended the meeting on Saturday at the Cascades Library. There were eight of us present. Overall, the reviews of the various works were very insightful

Then, my turn came up. The group quickly pinpointed all of the issues that I had expected. They also came up with some good ideas for expanding the story so it would work better in prose. Finally, one of the other writers even suggested a plot twist that I’d never thought of that could help take a longer prose version of the story to the next level. I was extremely impressed.

There was no question in my mind that the review session had been exceptional useful. By the end of the meeting I had already decided that the Loudoun County Writers Group provided exactly the type of support that I needed to take my craft to the next level. Those five hours a week — indisputably worth it.

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4 Comments

  1. Posted March 11, 2015 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

    Pennwriters Presents “Writers Project Runway – Fashioning Your Story”. Spotlight on the Haute Couture of Writing

    Have you thought about becoming a writer? Do you have a story and just don’t know how to write it? Does that “ inner voice”discourage your or do you have what most writers suffer from, “writer’s block? Perhaps you have already written a book and need to know what to do next. How do you get an agent or a publisher? What if you want to self publish your work? How do you find the right person to help you get to your goal? What if your book is already written, what lies ahead for you? Everyone wants their book to become a best seller. Do you want to know the secret to getting your title on that “best sellers” list?

    All this and much more like how to fashion your story will be revealed to the writers and authors on Saturday March 28, 2015, from 8am to 4 pm, Ida Lee Center, 60 Ida Lee Drive, Leesburg, VA will be the scene of an all day Writing Conference presented by the nationally acclaimed Pennwriters Group and organized by local author, Bobbi Carducci.

    Carducci said “The full day workshop is aimed at helping adult writers of all levels, including beginners, concentrate on learning the finer aspects of polishing their writing. The theme, “Writers Project Runway-Fashioning Your Story” was chosen because of the many similarities to the fashion world, where re-designing or refining a pattern is a natural part of focusing on a better final product.”

    The full day conference will include a catered lunch and access to twelve different thematic workshops taught by an array of professional writers including Hana Haatainen Caye, Pat DiCesare, Dixiane Hallaj, Don Helin, Lynda Lampert, Marc Leepson, Ramona DeFelice Long, Val Muller, Kathy Jo Shea, and Linda Harris Sittig.

    The cost is $100.00 for non-members and $75.00 dollars for members of Pennwriters. The day will conclude with a Meet the Authors Session and an opportunity for participants to purchase authors’ books.

    Registration can be done online atwww.pennwriters.org, or by contacting Bobbi Carducci at bcarducci@comcast.net. Registration deadline is March 20, 2015. No refunds after March 6, 2015.

  2. Posted March 13, 2015 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

    Hi Bobbi,

    It sounds like an interesting event. We’ve actually been discussing it recently in both the Loudoun County Writers Group and the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Group.

    I’m not sure that I’ll be able to make it this year with the various commitments I’ve got right now. Nevertheless, I’m happy to promote it to my fanbase.

    I wish you luck with your event!

    — Dave —

    • Bobbi Carducci
      Posted June 21, 2016 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

      Dave,
      I am actively planning Writers Project Runway III at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg. Projected date is April 1, 2017. Are you interested in being a speaker? If so, please contact me via my email with a proposed workshop (50 minutes including time for Q&A if any).
      If you are not available please let me know.
      Thank you for sharing the notice for last year’s event.
      Bobbi Carducci
      Organizer: Writers Project Runway III
      Vice President, Pennwriters, Inc. (Sponsoring organization)
      bcarducci@comcast.net
      540-903-6831 Cell

  3. Posted June 30, 2016 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Hi Bobbi,

    Of course I’m interested in being a speaker. I’ll definitely contact you with a topic for a workshop. One of the ideas I’ve been toying around with is a workshop on staging scenes that support the story while providing a real sense of presence.

    — Dave —

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