Infinitas Writers' Group

Andrew R, David B and Karen V enjoy criticism.

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

- Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant's Child

The Important Bits

Where:  Infinitas Bookshop
Shop 22, Civic Arcade, 48-50 George St, Parramatta
(same shop as Blokey Stuff)
Day:  Third Saturday of almost every month.
Time:  12:00 noon to 2 pm.
Electronic Mail:  infinitas@yahoogroups.com

All dates are Saturdays, meetings to commence at 12 and conclude by 2 pm, please try to be on time, to prevent unnecessary repetition of discussion points. Informal discussions may continue afterwards in a local cafe. Please send any works to be critiqued before the Friday immediately prior to give people a chance to read and ponder your work. Obviously, if you send your story sooner, there's likely to be better thought out critiques and everyone gets more value out of the meeting.
If you have any ideas for guest speakers or other relevent special events, please suggest away.

What

We're a writers' group in Sydney, Australia. We specialise in speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, horror and their ilk. We're affiliated with and meet at Infinitas, a speculative fiction bookshop in Parramatta.

Why

Writing can be a lonely, frustrating business. At any moment most people engaged in it aren't getting anywhere much in terms of recognition or financial reward. For this reason, writers' groups have been set up to provide people with the support and encouragement they need to believe in their own abilities and keep writing.

Infinitas is not one of those groups. In our meetings the purpose of criticism is not to build someone up (I love it! You are so amazingly talented!). Nor is it to tear them down (I tried it as toilet paper but it was too full of shit already.)

The idea is, rather, to make the writing in particular and the author in general better than they were before you spoke. As a side effect it will hopefully make you a better critic, which will, in turn, hopefully make you a better writer. Ideally, we're looking for comments that help the author identify ways to improve the plot, characters, setting, structure, etc., in this as well as later work. If you can't give us that then at least tell us where the problems might lie, so others can follow your lead and try to suggest solutions. And if you have to say the story was a waste of trees then you have to say it ... just try to be gentle.

To summarise, the group's principal raison d'etre is to make us better writers, in particular through:

As a secondary objective the group provides a social forum for writers to converse with others who share an interest in, and understanding of the issues of, speculative fiction writing.

When

We meet on the third Saturday of each month, though we will reschedule on the fly to avoid clashes with other people's speculative fiction events. Meetings start at 12 noon and run for 2-3 hours, they are often followed by a more social get together at a nearby coffee shop.

How

If you can't attend our meetings in person, due to location (for instance, you live too far away) or work, or other commitments, you are still welcome to participate by sending your critiques through the email list. Much of the group's interaction is by this method.

We start the meeting by exchanging news: any stories we've had accepted for publication; any new anthologies or writing courses announced; conventions; etc.. This is notionally structured by having each person in turn give their news, but there's also free discussion of items as they come up.

The main activity at the meeting is workshopping each other's work: stories and/or novel extracts. Over time the balance shift between short stories and novel extracts, but that's not a policy decision.

There are three main ways to distribute work:

Sometimes we have people reading out their own work at the meeting, or people reading out each other's work.
Sometimes, at the end of each meeting we've been choosing a theme for the next meeting. This has been done by picking a random book title off a shelf. Then everyone tries to write stories based on that theme.

If there's lots of works on offer in a particular month then some of them may not get workshopped that month. Shorter stories are more likely to get workshopped than longer ones. Someone who's been coming frequently and hasn't been workshopped lately is more likely to get workshopped than someone whose work was workshopped last week, or who is here for the first time.

Where

We meet in Infinitas Bookshop, which shares Shop 22, Civic Arcade, 48-50 George St, Parramatta with another shop Blokey Stuff. If you're using public transport then take a train to Parramatta station and it's a five minute walk. Check the infinitas website for a map.

There's also a Yahoo! group at http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/infinitas. This allows stories to be put up for perusal by the group.

Who

We have members from all over Greater Sydney and a few beyond. I asked people to give me a list of their achievements but they were all too modest. Trust me, the achievements exist and are numerous.

To join the group, mail the list.

For Kipling rants, mail David Bofinger (remove the spam proofing from my address).

For further information, contact Infinitas bookshop@infinitas.com.au

Much of this page was contributed by David Bofinger.