Without the persistent support and serious critique of writing groups and partners throughout my writing career, starting in the early 1990s, I likely would not be a published author or had the success I’ve had to date. Groups and partners are necessary to the revision process of writing.
Let’s look at three reasons for getting feedback from other writers so we can revise with input and confidence.
Three Purposes of Receiving Feedback from Fellow Writers
ONE. Writing partners and groups offer support to the fragile souls of writers. Positive feedback is just as important as negative, if not more so. Partners and groups answering , “What do you like or what works for you as the reader?” lets the writer know what already enhances their piece.
Examples of feedback:
- “The author’s work is paced so that it heightens the tension.”
- “The audience is kept informed of details that keep the reader from stopping to ask ‘huh?’”
- “The essay on forgiveness is a difficult and humbling topic, one needed in our public and private lives today. I commend the author for tackling the topic.”
TWO. Members of a writing group give brutally honest responses to another’s writing product — called constructive feedback. This gives the author a chance to listen and determine if the review feels on target or is deemed unimportant to their work.
Examples of feedback:
- “The dialogue on pages 3-4 is clunky and extraneous and could be deleted without loss to the story.”
- “The use of the adjective ‘really’ adds no value to a sentence, is overused, so can be eliminated throughout the story.”
- “The sequence of events feels out of order. Perhaps placing the second event as the fourth will improve the logical occurrences of the scene.”
THREE. When a writer hears group members express what they are curious about or what they want more of in the story, it opens up possibilities. This often lets the writer find new scene-worthy material.
Examples of feedback:
- “When the writer mentions rubies being found, is there a chance of other jewels being discovered in the treasure hunt?”
- “As the author describes Hemingway’s life, what role do his four wives play in his literary career? ”
- “When the protagonist fades from the scene, what is her emotional state? What physical ways can you show that?”
Writing Success through Publications and Awards
My most recent achievement was winning a bronze Solas travel writing award in “Elders” category for my story, “From the Back of the Van,” when traveling in Chiapas, Mexico with two friends.
My travel writing group is the backbone of my success. We take classes together and review each others’ work, going on about three years now. The group expands and contracts over time, but there are eight to fifteen of us, Zooming from San Diego to New York and all in between.
What’s remarkable is that ten of us placed in the Solas awards this year; last year, six of us. Solid proof that writing partners and groups work.
The Travelers’ Tales editors and this year’s guest judge Scott Dominic Carpenter announced the winners of the Seventeenth Annual Solas Awards for Best Travel Story of the Year on March 15, 2023. Scores of entries in 21 categories kept the judges busy. As usual, not every story that deserved an award received one. Here’s the complete list of winners.
Winning stories will be posted on the Great Stories page and as Editors’ Choice stories on TravelersTales.com, and may appear in future Travelers’ Tales books. (Taken from the 17th Solas Awards Announcement page)
Travel is the Subject of my Two Books
Travel writing was not just aspirational, but a driving feature of my life and my work. At Home in the World: Travel Stories of Growing Up and Growing Away was my coming-of-age, travel memoir that follows me from a girl of ten to a young woman of twenty-seven. Travel experiences helped me grow up with a nuanced view of the world and a telling tale to gain self-confidence and agency as a result of my travels.
Novel writing grew from a dream one morning of a woman in a salwar kameez. It became the inspiration for Song of Myself, an historical novel, set in 1906 about a young horsewoman that traveled to India to sell her uncle’s quarter horses to the British Indian army for breeding.
Both book themes assert the transformative nature of building agency during travel, especially for women.
You can purchase each at Amazon as a paperback or an eBook.