The Scriva Bullies

by Elizabeth Rusch
Published on: September 20, 2013
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Be careful what you suggest in a critique group meeting – even in jest. A writer might just do what you say.

At a critique group meeting a while ago, we Scrivas observed that ScrivaNicole kept giving us revisions of the first 50 pages of her amazing middle grade novel over and over again. While we loved reading it each time (see post equating Nicole’s luscious writing to fudge), we also wanted to see where the story went, what happened next. And after months of seeing the first 50 pages over and over, we worried that Nicole might be stuck in a rut.

So we told her, jokingly: “Maybe we should sneak into your house, raid your computer, steal the first 50 pages of your novel, and lock them up so you would have to move on.” We all laughed and thought this was a wonderful, if silly, idea.

Then, the next meeting, Nicole said: “I did it.”

“Did what?” we asked.

“I had Danny [my husband] take the first 50 pages off my computer,” she said. She handed us each a small stack of paper. “Here they are. You can read them and comment, but don’t give me any comments, even if I ask for them…”

She looked a little worried and we felt a little guilty for teasing her, but at the next meeting Nicole handed over – and purged from her computer – another chunk of the book. She kept plugging away at it, handing over chapters. Before we knew it, she finished the whole thing!

Apparently in a critique group, there is a time and place for everything, even a little good-natured bullying.  Maybe sometimes we all need a little tough love.


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