Here are some things we (as a group) have implemented to keep Bayou Writers exciting and new members coming back. [Some things TGCW may want to consider implementing].
1. Schedule regular speakers that can do more than tout their own books. Now, every writer longs to talk about their book, but in order to be an invited guest speaker, you must have something to share! Research instructions, tax information, promotion/publicity tips, writing rules and procedures, query and synopsis etiquette; these are just a few topics aspiring writers need to learn and published writers sometimes need to be reminded of.
2. Have at least 1 business or planning meeting a year. January is always a good time to plan the rest of your year, but hey, any month will do!
3. Make critiquing a regular part of your meetings or schedule meetings when all you do is critique each others' work. This can be done aloud or silently. We pass around 4 (5 if complete story) pages in manuscript format (1" margins, 12pt font) and each reader writes their critique on a separate piece of paper and passes it on to the author.
4. Writing prompts: Here are a few ideas.
On colored index cards write different things that need to be in a novel and/or short story (setting, character, profession, and situation) mix them up. Everyone picks a card out of each pile and writes something to be critiqued at the next meeting.
Cut pictures of people out of a magazine and give one to everybody. Everyone is to write a story about that person. Try and use ordinary looking people who appear in ads, etc and avoid celebrities.
An opening sentence or scene; read aloud or bring typed on index cards or a sheet of typing paper. Again, each person must use that sentence or scene to build their story around.
5. Have a contest for members only that relates to a workshop (previous or upcoming). Example; you have a workshop on characterization. Each member that attends must write a 3-page scene that shows their character to his/her fullest. Send those to the host/hostess of the workshop for critiquing. Pick at least 1 winner and 1 runner up. Make it even more special by creating simple certificates boasting the award and/or give a gift card to a local bookstore or office supply house to the 1st place winner and a certificate to 2nd place and 'honorable' mention to everyone else. Writers need encouragement as well as constructive criticism...this is a good way to provide it.
6. Grow as you learn. Implement new ideas; be open to suggestion; think about goals and vision for the group as a whole. Ex: have conferences? Collect dues? Eventually become NP? Slow, steady growth is best.
7. Be willing and able to delegate. As a founding member, I feel a responsibility toward my group, my writers; my friends. But no one person can do it all. Members should be willing to volunteer also. Otherwise it's not a 'group' but one person running an organization.
For more information on Bayou Writers' Group visit our website at: http://bayouwritersgroup.comFor more information on Pamela S Thibodeaux visit http://pamelathibodeaux.com