Cross-posted from SoFurry.
What do I want out of the Furry Writer’s Guild (FWG)? That seems like a reasonable enough question, given that I am not a member, but have engaged in anthropomorphic writing that I’ve shown to others. So, that makes me Furry and a Writer. As such, I find the the FWG a matter of interest. As a non-member, I write this from the perspective of someone who would like to be one.
I also write this as a developing writer. While I’ve written plenty of documentation over my career and a few papers in school, I would not have described myself as a writer until I started writing this summer, primarily anthro fiction. As a writer, I want to do the best that I can with every piece. I want that best to be better with every piece. I strive for continuous improvement; every piece is an opportunity to practice and to learn from what did or did not go well. My goals are simple: better stories, every time; good stories, as often as possible.
With this in mind, what I want from the FWG is help achieving those goals. Writing is clearly a skill, or a suite of skills. The many structural elements of a story are the products of writing skills: characters, plots, conflicts, settings, dialogue, etc. I can usually tell if I’m doing something that’s ok, but there is nothing like external feedback to help spot errors. In this way, it is not much different from software development or martial arts or playing music. Similarly, I can usually spot a lot of my own mistakes, but I have a hard time telling whether they were big mistakes which significantly impact the enjoyment of the final product (in so much as anyone enjoys a good beating), or small ones which people don’t notice or easily move past (a dodgy line of code, a suboptimal hit, a slightly flat note). The only solution to improving these skills is practice, but that needs to be good practice. Bad practice simply builds bad habits. External guidance helps you stay on good practice.
Back on point, what I want out of the guild is help building my skills so I can write better stories. I think this breaks out into two categories: direct assistance and indirect assistance. Direct Assistance is derived exclusively from guild resources, such as feedback from guild members, the writing-tips chat, etc. Indirect assistance involves non-guild resources; this can take the form of pointers to books on plot structure or self-editing, panels at conventions, or information on writing workshops and courses.
Speaking of panels at conventions, I was able to attend some of the writing track panels at this past MFF. I found several to be quite useful and engaging, and several more to be interesting in places, but unsatisfying in others. Most of these panels were arranged by members of the FWG. So, on one hand, I am very pleased the FWG is organizing these panels, particularly at convnetions which do not have much of an established writing track. On the other hand, I want those panels to be more useful, so that I feel compelled to spend my time in them, or disappointed I when I am unable to attend.
I look at writing panels at cons as falling into two categories: skill development sessions and topic discussions. This is no doubt an artifact of what I experienced at MFF, but I’ll run with it. I look at skill development sessions as highly-structured panels which are led by a small number of panelists to teach writers a skill. The idea with this sort of panel is to provide an introduction to a skill so that the attending writer can get a foundation with which to go home and practice. Topic discussions are a guided group discussion of a topic, such as historical fiction or erotica. These do not need to be highly structured, and the panelists are there to kick things off and keep things moving. The guild can provide both of these things from its membership, and can continue the development and improvement of these events across multiple conventions.
So there you go: I want the guild to help me develop my skills. Where I am in a position to help other writers develop their skills, I would like to do so. If I can do that under the guild’s auspices, so much the better, because that would further what I want out of the guild.
As I develop as a writer, I’m sure my thoughts on what I personally want out of the guild will change (more access to paying markets, better paying anthro markets, more advanced skills development), but as a new author this is what I think the guild can do best for me.