Friday, April 22, 2011

The Power of Diversity

Last night I attended a chapter meeting for the Pacific Northwest Writers' Association, PNWA. As I left the meeting, I noticed a list of names with people looking for a critique group. Four pieces of information were required: Name. Email address. Location. Genre.

"Genre" sparked my interest.

Writers often group together in their genre. Perhaps fearful of what they don't know, and thinking that those other genre's can't possibly know their rules. How could another genre be any help?

There is power in diversity. Diversity, one of the most interesting courses I took during my MBA, is nothing more than bringing together groups of people from different backgrounds, ethnicity, and experiences.

When you bring a group five people together of like genres, like minds, like personalities, like beliefs, etc., you have five brains thinking the exact same thing. But when you bring a group of five people together with different backgrounds, experiences, personalities, and genres, you have increased the power of one brain five times!

Diversity increases creativity, inspiration, possibility, productivity, and success.

My current critique group... you know them well... Heather and Linda, and I, write different genres. Young adult, Mystery and Historical fiction, and Aviation Thriller and General Fiction.

We recently had the opportunity to workshop our novels together. Powerful? Yes.

Linda and Heather looked at my work through a different lens, and saw things that I couldn't. I was too close. Granted there are different techniques and rules used to create pace, momentum, etc., with different genres. But that doesn't impact the structure, story, character development, inciting incidents, and so on.

Benefits of a diverse critique group:
  • Viewpoints from outside our genre box. 
  • Lack of competition between authors.
  • We can borrow lines from each other. 
  • Reading different genres enhances creativity and inspiration.
  • Focus 
Focus: The greatest benefit for those in a diverse critique group is that when you listen to others work, your mind is only on their work, not on your own. If I were listening to someone in my genre writing about an airplane crash, how could my mind not drift to my novel?

Why do you need a critique group? Click Here to read what Heather has to say about the Purpose of a Critique Group. 

How diverse if your group? Please tell us the strengths and weakness of your group, we'd love to hear.

Enjoy the journey, and make today incredible.

~ Karlene


  1. HI, Karlene,

    It's so good to see you. I agree 100 percent. Different genres for group are THE only way to have fantastic insight from others who are not submerged in their own genre.

    Personally I like all kinds of genres. Romance even. I probably would never write one, but I like a good one every now and then. Historical pieces I love. Anything period.

    Right now I'm reading a Dystopian. Something I most likely would never write, but I find it fascinating and am giving the author a thorough crit. SO yes diversity is the way to go. We are ALL writers and know the basics of a good story and we can see if the pacing/plot/character issues, etc. are spot on.

    I can't wait to get with you ladies soon. Karlene, Heather, and Linda I hope you have a wonderful holiday.


  2. This one touched me deeply Karlene. I find it terribly sad that people would group together based on genre. If we had done that we never would have met each other and my work would have suffered gravely for it. Diversity is key! Excellent post!

  3. Michael, thank you so much! I too love reading all genres. Thanks to Heather I'm reading YA...and love it. A thriller write and ya? lol. Yes, there is inspiration everywhere.

    Very cool stepping outside what you normally read. Take the courage to step to the other side.

    Thank you so much for your comment! And we too are looking forward to getting together with you.

  4. Thank you Heather. I can only imagine had we not met. I've learned so much from you, and continue to do so. We will continue to grow together. I'm looking forward to it.

  5. Most of my CPs and beta readers write YA (as do I). The one exception is the CP who writes erotic romance and women's fiction.

    The most important thing is that the person enjoys your writing and story. If they don't (and that could happen even if they write your genre), it's going to be a painful process for them, and it could take them forever to finish reading it (if they ever do). ;)

  6. This sounds wonderful. I like the idea of not competing and thinking outside the box. :-)
    Sarah Winters

  7. Stina, you are so correct! If they don't like my story they're out. haha. Just kidding. That would be a challenge, but an excellent point... because, not everyone will love your story. Painful for sure. Thanks so much for your comment.

  8. Hi Sarah, Thank you so much for the comment. After we spent the day together, we were all thinking how nice it was outside each other's genre. I love to read all genres... so it was great for me.

  9. Great post, Karlene. I love it that we come at writing from different orientations, but with like minds about what makes a story work. Listening to your work and Heather's work is fabulous for me. I love being immersed in those worlds, so different from the ones I write about, and I get so caught up in the beats of the stories. And getting your and Heather's perspectives, support and suggestions on my work is the best. Makes a huge difference. Thanks!!

  10. Great post, Karlene. I'm lucky to have a CP who writes a different genre and I think we both benefit from our differences.

  11. Lovin' the post! I belong to two critique groups and both are diverse. I wouldn't normally read a fantasy or sci-fi, but when I listen to these genres at critique, I get totally involved in the stories. There is a woman who writes historical fiction for adults and I have learned so much from her! :-)

  12. Thank you Linda! It's all so fabulous to me too. It helps that you're both incredible writers too!

  13. Hi Lydia, Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience! Your CP is lucky to have you too!

  14. Wub2write... I am so glad to hear about your positive experiences! That's great to know. I'm thinking anyone who limits themselves, is really missing out. I learn so much too! Thanks for your comment.