Writing Groups, a guest blog by Liz Tuckwell

For reasons I will never understand authors insist on shortening their names. Elizabeth Tuckwell being one of them. Whats wrong with Elisabeth I ask you? Its a fine regal name, why would you shorten it to Liz? Says a man who was named Mark by his mum so no one could shorten his name…

This is true and why my sister is called Dawn. It’s also why we don’t have middle names… For some reason this logic came to an end when my Brother Stephen Archibald Grundlewick Muthusiala Hayes was born. He is also taller and distinctly blonder than either my sister or myself.

I have never wondered about this…

Miss Tuckwell who calls herself Liz so who am I to argue is a fellow Harvey Duckman writer, genuinely quite lovely and deserves a better introduction than I am giving her. She is also by strange coincidence the aunt of an old friend of mine from the west midlands branch of her family. They are weird with names too and change the family surname to Tredwell. What was wrong with Tuckwell I ask you?

Anyway, that’s enough blathering on, over to Elizabeth, who has far more interesting things to say.

Writers Groups By Liz Tuckwell

For Mark’s annual Indie Month, I thought I’d write something about my experience of writing groups. Writing is a solitary pursuit, but writers like to get together to discuss their craft and occasionally have a good moan about writing and publishing.  

I’ve belonged to a few different types of writing groups. 

One type of writing group is the critique group. I’ve joined a few of these. For example, I attended a Developing Your Novel course at the City Lit adult education centre in London and at the end of the course, some of us decided to set up our own writers’ group.  

We met monthly in a pub. Four people would send an extract for everyone to read and provide comments at the next meeting. I found the comments very useful although occasionally frustrating as not everyone in the group was a SF or fantasy writer so didn’t understand the tropes. In the last year or so, COVID hit, and we met on Zoom. When meeting in person, we’d always made notes on a hard copy and passed it on to the writer. With Zoom, we merely gave our spoken comments which I didn’t find as useful. We met for five years until the group membership grew too small to be worthwhile. People left through moving away or ill health or pressures of work/study.  

I did belong for a while to another writers’ critique group which met online. That group each put comments on a word document and shared it on screen, then sent it to the writer after the meeting. That was more useful in an online group although you were more at the mercy of technology and other writers’ tech savviness with that method. However, that group was small to begin with and unfortunately, a couple of people had to drop out, so it wasn’t really practical to continue. 

Another type of writers’ group is the more social one. When I became a member of the select group of Harvey Duckman Presents writers, I discovered a number of them met weekly in a pub in Teeside. Shortly afterwards, COVID came, and they started meeting online which meant Harvey writers from further afield were invited to join them. I enjoyed the weekly Zoom meetings, getting to know the other authors and gaining useful information and insights from them. I was sorry when the end of COVID meant most of the group resumed meeting in the pub.  

However, a few of us who couldn’t meet in person, have continued to meet online on Thursdays at 6 pm courtesy of Joseph Carrabis who hosts the meetings. If anyone is interested in the online group, drop me a line at liz@liztuckwell.co.uk. You’d don’t have to be a Harvey author to come along. 

I also belong to another type of writers’ group, the London Clockhouse Writers Group. This one is a bit different because you have to pay per meeting, is specifically for SF, fantasy, and horror writers, and you need to have had two short stories published to be eligible to join. Most but not all of the writers live in the South East. Meetings used to be in person but are now online. The leader of the group provides a list of submission opportunities coming up and gives more information about them. He also sometimes provide writing prompts and we each write a short paragraph and share them. We also share news of submission successes. For more information, see https://clockhouselondonwriters.wordpress.com 

In my experience, being part of a writers’ group is generally worthwhile. They can be helpful and good fun. However, you need to know what type of group you’re looking for. If it’s a critique group, you need to think about the size and what genres the other writers write in. In my opinion, a critique group needs to have at least six people to ensure its longevity. Whereas with a social group, you need to consider what size group you’re comfortable with. Just as importantly, you need to enjoy the company of the other people in the group which, you’ll find out pretty quickly. And nowadays, whether you want to meet in-person or online. 

If you want to find a writers’ group in your local area, Writers Online https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writers-groups has a search function to look for writers’ groups. If you want an online group, I’d just Google it. 

Liz Tuckwell has had several stories published in Harvey Duckman Presents anthologies. She’s also published a collection of short stories, Moonsleep and Other Stories and is currently working on an episodic novel about Tully, the hero of several stories set in an alternate Rome, in the Harvey anthologies. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Liz-Tuckwell/e/B00AMQ0RDW/


About Mark Hayes

Writer A messy, complicated sort of entity. Quantum Pagan. Occasional weregoth Knows where his spoon is, do you? #author #steampunk http://linktr.ee/mark_hayes
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4 Responses to Writing Groups, a guest blog by Liz Tuckwell

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Zoom has certainly changed opportunities to gather from wider areas.
    I’ve found writers groups immensely helpful, though it definitely depends on the members and the focus. Ours started in 2008 with very green writers, other than our moderator. She provided local library workshops and classes, and we had critique partners and/or groups.
    She believed strongly in community, so we’ve always held ‘Writers Café’ meetings in coffee shops or pubs. The Wednesday Writers Café still remains and thrives. The core 8 writers that attended that group all published novels in 2013 and have continued to publish.
    The others from 2008 who came occasionally continued to write but haven’t published. I’d say that speaks for the success of the ‘social’ style. Although we needed the original structured group to hone our skills, and we continue to trade critiques from time to time.
    We also lost members over time, but our robust NaNoWriMo regional group picks up a few new ones each November.
    We currently have 3 new Wednesday members that attend faithfully. They revitalize the writing journey for us old-timers, and they are excited to be mentored, as we were once mentored by our founder. It’s fun and motivating for everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just picked up Liz’s, The Interview, and Volume 10. of Harvey Duckman presents. The TBR pile is enormous, but I’m looking forward to getting to these when I can. I always post reviews. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Went back in and picked up the first book in The Hannibal Smyth Misadventures, as well. Happy Writing! (and reading!)

    Liked by 1 person

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