i know i'm not in the majority when i recommend that you get involved with a writers' group. Dean Koontz apparently loathes them, Harlan Ellison despises them, and I've read advice from dozens of other pros whose work I love and whose opinions I value who say writers' groups will do everything from steal your soul to cause your writing to break out in pox.
Nonetheless, i strongly recommend that you get involved with a good writers' group when you're getting started. I credit what I learned from my early groups (plus enormous amounts of hard work and persistence) with leading me to publication. The Unknown Writers' Group and Schrodinger's Petshop (Essentially Bizarre, But Cats Like Us) pushed me to succeed.
But I was lucky. I got in on the ground floor of each group, and each group was good. I heard horror stories of other writers' groups in the area (we acquired a lot of their fallout members) and discovered that not all groups are created equal.
In this column I'll assume that you have at least one writers' group in your area with an opening. (Many places do. If you don't, we'll fix that in a later column.) Print this list off, take it to a meeting or two with you, and keep your eyes and ears open. Here's what you look for.
(I refer from time to time to the Schrodinger's Petshop Handbook, which I wrote years ago, because as long as we used it, we had a great group. If you'd like to read the whole thing in advance, you'll find it in the following chapter.)
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