A Little Help From My Friends

When I first started writing fiction, it was in a workshop environment. In fact, it was really more about producing for that workshop than writing for its own sake. Oddly enough, when I started writing long fiction, I somehow came to the conclusion that good writing was a solitary effort. It was between me and publishing professionals. Bad idea. (But probably no worse than counting on non-writer friends and relatives for critiques.)

Over the past few years I’ve started finding critical assistance from other writers via a couple of the many web-based platforms. Not only has the input helped me, but in reading hundreds of submissions I’ve sharpened my eye towards my own work. From these contacts I’ve developedĀ a few highly productive exchange partners, and hope to continue those relationships.

This past month I joined an online critique group, and although it’s too early to know how well they’ll tolerate me, their presence is already a comfort. Having a reliable, stable group of committed writers to provide suggestions and support is a great thing for a pursuit that is so fundamentally solipsistic.

Writers who might not know where to begin should take a look at which has a terrific interface. Also consider joining appropriate forum groups, where writers of similar interests often exchange manuscripts. I look back at my earliest projects and find myself wincing at mistakes any experienced reader would have noted. And I think of the long list of acknowledgements in so many wonderful books. There’s a reason for them, and should ever I be so fortunate, I’ll be proud to offer up my own growing circle of kind, perceptive folks who have helped.



By Lawrence Tabak

Lawrence Tabak is a widely published magazine writer who is currently focused on writing fiction for young adults. He is the father of two boys. He has worked as a tennis teaching professional, a executive at the United States Tennis Association, and in corporate communications postions in the financial services industry. His essays and feature stories have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including the in-flight magazines for TWA, United, American and Continental; Fast Company, Tennis Magazine,, and The Atlantic Monthly.

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