MINOOKA — Twice a month, the facilities at Three Rivers Arts Council in Minooka become a testing ground for a group of budding writers.
The dozen or so adults of “Write On” began meeting in January to review and critique each others work, giving tips and helpful hints to fellow authors-to-be.
Amateur writer Kristina Skaggs of Joliet began the group with Channahon author Denise Baran-Unland and said she had previously put some of her short stories online under a nom de plume for feedback, but then she was ready for some face-to-face interaction with other writers.
“Denise and I came together to create the group for critiquing and feedback,” Skaggs said. “We collaborated to get it going. I think everybody wants that creative writing class from college. ... It’s a free place to come and share our stories.”
Skaggs admitted it can be difficult to expose one’s writing for criticism, but she added that most writers really have that desire for someone to take a red pen to their work to enable them to see things from a different perspective.
“We’re alone a lot,” she said, “and we want to know what other readers think.”
Skaggs said the first Write On meeting was fairly small, with five or so writers attending to receive “writing assessments.”
The group has grown to around a dozen now, though, and they are considering splitting it in half. It’s difficult to give everyone individual attention as the group grows, she said.
Skaggs loves the variety of personalities and writing styles she sees in the group, though, and hopes to spread the word even more.
“I want to keep it changing,” she said. “You need to have more and more points of view.”
Those who attend are from all different walks of life, Skaggs said, and all ages with various styles of writing and subject matter. They all have the goal of publishing, though, she said, and two are self-published authors already.
Stephanie Zydron of Minooka was actually on her way to the library to check out a writing book when she saw the sign for the Write On group.
Always interested in writing, Zydron had decided it was time to get serious about her hobby. She’s working on a book of fiction for 11- to 13-year-olds that she calls “The Imaginary World of Anna Marie.”
“I was looking for someone outside my family to give me some constructive criticism,” she said. “It’s been very helpful. They gave me some great tips.”
Zydron said an example was a reading she gave of one “really long” chapter. The suggestion was made for her to break it down into four smaller chapters, which she ended up doing. It was much better that way, she said.
The group has also been a good motivator for her, she said, giving her deadlines of producing new material to bring to the next session. And that can be difficult, she said, as a stay-at-home mother with three children to care for.
“I try to write at least 15 minutes a day,” she said, “when the kids are taking a nap.”
“Write On” meets the first and third Thursdays of each month at the Three Rivers Arts Council, 413 Mondamin Street in Minooka. For further information, visit the Write On Facebook page or call (314) 974-4397.