My second writing group meeting went really well. It seems that I didn't need to worry as much as I did.
The critiquing of their work was welcomed with smiles. I noticed a few things in a couple of the pieces that had been missed by the others, and they commented on me being a fresh pair of eyes, and that as they knew each other's styles, it was easy to miss things. One of the comments I raised opened up a whole new area of debate for five minutes. It was quite a nice feeling, knowing that I was contributing to the group.
Another thing that eased my concerns about my comments on their work, was that even though I was very mindful that I was talking about something that was personal to them, it was face to face, and I could explain my comments without fear of them being misinterpreted. It turned out to be fun, knowing that I was helping.
Then it came for my piece to be critiqued.
Bracing myself for a bit of a beating, they went round the table with their comments.
To my delight, it turned out to be nearly all good. The ending left a few of them feeling cheated, and that they were expecting more, although, they understood that the word count restriction was responsible for the abrupt ending. Next time, I should ignore the word count and let the full story come out.
Other comments (unprompted by me) touched on all of the elements of the story that I had tried to achieve.
The layout/structure of the test was good.
The start put the MC in the heart of the story, and pulled the reader in.
The dialogue was snappy.
The underlying tension slowly built through the story.
The internal conflict was strong enough.
The story was active, not passive, and they could see the emotions being played out.
The really good thing that I'm taking away from last night is that these are people, that when they received my copy of the homework, had only met me once for a couple of hours. They were reading/reacting to my story on it's merit. As I'm employing the same style to the edit on my MS, it appears that I am on the right track to producing something half decent.
If I smile gets any wider, it'll join at the back, and the top of my head will fall off.
It seems that I do have a small bit of writing ability after all. :oD