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December 14, 2011

WUTA works.

WUTA, aka Writers under the Arch, is a writers’ circle who meets weekly. Its members are a diverse (must…resist…”motley”) crew of poets, playwrights, screenwriters and, er, prosers. We read brief excerpts of works in progress every week, get immediate close edits and suggestions, and come back for more. Those of us who work in longer forms get together once a month as needed to look at whole novels, screenplays, epic national poems, et al.

What’s that, Sparky? Why is it any different than any other writers’ group?

Apart from the sheer number of meetings–seeing each other and going over material on a weekly basis keeps everyone focused and fresh–WUTA has a few secrets I will share with you, at great personal risk. First, we all genuinely like to write. Second, we all genuinely want to write better. Third, we all genuinely want each other to write better too.

There you have it.

Okay, fine, maybe I left out some details. But the above already puts WUTA at the top of the class as far as critique circles go. The thing that may be unique about WUTA, though, is the underlying assumption that those three things make us peers. Published, unpublished, old hand, new blood, we are all there for the same thing. Commonality, in this case, yields uncommon results: everyone, no matter where they start, has room to improve, and we tailor our suggestions accordingly. Hitches in grammar? We spot ’em. Pacing? Got it. Character development problems? Ditto. Thematic inconsistency? Sure.

Most important of all, critique is presented with respect, because everyone there is walking the same mile, or in some cases, the same ultramarathon. Now, respect can include some good-natured ribbing (it is good-natured, right? What you all were saying about my hand gestures the other night?). We occasionally sound like a roomful of old married couples, if old married couples were all Dorothy Parker fans.

In any case, meetings are fun. We look forward to the next installments of novels, to new poetry, to a short story one of us pulled together while they worked around a screenplay scene. We feel disappointment when someone admits they don’t have anything that week.

Can I mention our maximum leader by name? No? Fine. Our facilitator, whom I shall refer to as La Belle Dame sans Pareil, keeps our ADHD selves from meandering off on tangents with all the aplomb, humor, and long-suffering patience of a professional parakeet herder. I cannot imagine our success without her. I can’t imagine US without her.

The bottom line is the same as the top: WUTA works. Get something like it going if you want to improve as a writer.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2011 5:10 pm

    Great post. Accurate in all regards. And if you cause us a glut of 40 people next week we will beat your feet with rubber truncheons.

  2. December 15, 2011 9:01 am

    It is difficult to come up with comparable series of terms for all of us. Perhaps: Poets, Storytellers, and Journalists?

    I agree with the poet above: excellent post.

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