(Sorry, I must add a disclaimer at the beginning. I am not picking on any authors. You do not have to belong to any writers groups, to be a good writer, but it doesn't hurt.)
Autumn is here and so is my return to writers groups.
I am a glutton and belong to both the New England Chapter of RWA (NEC for short) and Rhode Island Romance Writers (RIRW), which is not affiliated with RWA although many of our members do belong to the national organization.
It is important for writers to belong to a group. A good group will keep a writer informed of the latest trends, celebrate the writer's ups and downs with her, and advise her on where she can get the help she needs.
A good group also has a guest speaker or a workshop every month for a writer to learn her craft.
Craft is very important!
It is almost impossible to write a book today without attending classes and/or workshops. High school English classes can teach you punctuation, although I have seen many novels that raise my doubts about that, but they cannot teach you how to build and grow a character.
High school English classes do not teach you how to have a main plot and how to intersperse subplots along the way that will support the story and not cause it to implode within itself.
Do you enjoy watching a ping pong match? Does your head swivel and turn every time the ball crosses the net? When the volleys get fast and furious do your eyes stay with the ball, or do they get lost?
When an author bounces around with their characters' point of view from one person, to another, to another, none of the characters can truly show the depths of their emotions. The story is superficial and the readers will be lost to an author who can wring the emotions out of both the character and the reader.
High school English classes do not teach you how to avoid back story dumps. When you walk in the woods and come across a bear's dump you do not plow through it, you avoid it, so to, does your reader when you artlessly plunk every bit of research you've ever done, in your entire life, into your story.
Did you enjoy that last run-on sentence? You can learn how to avoid those in high school English classes.