Writer's Journal

Our thoughts and ideas about writing are expressed here.
Casting Off
Charles Riley McInnis
May 3, 2012
May 3, 2012 -  By-laws have been drawn up, submission and critique guidelines drafted, and a web site has been established for Five Rivers Writers' Group. On Sunday, May 6, 2012, we will have our organizational meeting to review the structure and function of our group.  Soon we will cast off and begin our writing journey. It is my sincere hope that our literary voyage brings us much success and enjoyment. With that in mind, we should focus on the following:
  • Establish and Focus on Goals - We should know our port of departure and our port of arrival.  No ship leaves shore without a plan. Once, we set a course, it is more efficient if all dedicate themselves to the same end. It is not for us to drift aimlessly into a sea with no clear destination.  Our journey should be about writing, and not about the crew on board. Let's keep the focus on writing and critiquing, doing both well.


  •  Engage in Productive Discourse -  As members of a critique group, we should listen at least as much as we speak. When we submit our work for criticism, we are asking others for their opinions. It is our responsibilty to listen or read that opinion and evaluate it. Its value is what we perceive it to be. Some critiques are beneficial and some are not. As writers, we make the decision as to which applies. If we must argue with the person giving the critique, then our writing did not make our case. We can't defend our writing to every reader; it must speak clearly for itself.


  •  Take Responsibility for Our Writing - When we write, we should produce a mature product. The value of the critique is greatly determined by lucid and clear writing, attention to detail, and use of proper grammar. We should make the work of the critiquing member as easy as possible. If we are successful, attention can be directed toward developmental editing, and not to the baser elements of writing.


  •  Take Responsibility for Our Critiquing - If we are to offer our opinion about the writing of others, we should prepare ourselves and make it valid. Reading widely is one way to develop the skill to criticize. Also, reading what others write about critiques is valuable.  We owe the writer a succinct and effective critique of their work.
Above all, we want to enjoy the fellowship of our group. Writing, by its nature, can be a lonely endeavor. We should use our organization to diminsh that element of the craft. I wish good writing and good fun to all.


An Analysis of Literary Characters


Jan Jennings

May 8, 2012


A great character needs interesting things to do and a memorable place in which to develop into the protagonist/antagonist the reader will carry with him/her long after the piece has been read. 


A study of psychological profiles or a personal study of character through experience is important.  An author needs to know his/her own character well enough to know what she/he will do in a certain situation.  A character may be primarily good or evil, but we are all a mixture of both, a truth our characters should reflect. 


Setting affects the building of a memorable character.  What good would Frodo and Sam be, for instance, if there were no ring to destroy in the cracks of Doom in the Fiery Mountain? 

Sherlock Homes could track a tobacco ash from any part of London, but he didn’t know that the planets circle the Sun.  We know and love this about him.


Could Forrest Gump have been created if the author had never studied a person with special needs or been completely familiar with the intricacies and peculiararities of the bay area of Alabama?


Could Edmund, Goneril, and Regan have gained a kingdom by flattery in any other time period but their own?
The actions of our favorite characters also have great impact on our view of them.

Don’t we feel sorry for Scarlett, when she has lost Rhett, even though she has tried her best to sabotage everyone and everything that ever got in her way?

Who are your favorite characters, and why do you love to love or love to hate them?


You’ve read many characters that you really loved.  Why do you remember the ones you choose to mention here vs. many others?


What are the relationships between setting, action and character, and do they always need to be in harmony?


Please continue our discussion by naming and commenting about your favorite characters, good or evil, in the comment section below.

 New Topic:  How do writers find time to write? 
This question was posed a few weeks ago.  I would like to expand it to include any particular motivational tools or rituals you use to get those creative juices flowing.  So let us in on your own little idiosyncrasies when it comes to getting the words on the page and maybe we will all get inspired to open up a new Word Doc or "vein" and write our next submission to Five Rivers Writers' Group.