Friday, May 26, 2017

5 Reasons An Avenger-Style Writing Team is Invaluable: A Guest Post by Nova McBee

Today we have the grand finale of the "Help Hannah get through finals" guest posting series. This last post is by Nova McBee. Nova reads and writes YA fiction books while traveling the world with her husband and two kids (she's currently in China). She co-hosts The Spinning Pen at and has promised to blog at her new website soon. But thankfully we don't have to wait until then to get some of her wisdom. She's here to talk to us about writing teams. Specifically, Avenger-style writing teams. So sit tight and get ready for an epic post. We're bringing the party to you: 

If you are to be a contender in the Super Galactic Heroic World of Writing – you will need a team—or, more clearly, A Writing group. Critique Partner(s). A Writing Community. A Tribe.

Writing can be a lonely business with fierce competition on all sides. But it doesn’t have to be. Why? Because you don’t have to do it alone! There are others like you just dying to connect—dying to write with you and to join forces with you. To be a team. And being on the same team with other writers can save the world (well, maybe…)
My awesome host, Hannah, has an incredibly inspiring post on why we should be like Batman in terms of our personal writing life. I wholeheartedly agree. We can learn loads from Batman’s intense commitment and devotion to his trade and calling: Read that here, but, in terms of a writing group dear superhero-writer friends, we cannot look to him. (The poor guy—his peers were no where to be found.) Instead, we must turn our eyes to one of the greatest teams—the Avengers—to see why a team is so important.

Here are five reasons that may convince you, (If you are not currently writing with others) to find your own team, tribe, group, cp, or community.
Hannah Heath: 5 Reasons An Avenger-Style Writing Team is Invaluable: A Guest Post by Nova McBee
1. NEW YORK—We can agree that only one Avenger would have failed miserably facing the giant alien attack in New York. We writers are facing giants in the publishing industry and with a team we are more likely to be prepared to face it.

One of the greatest gifts other writers can offer each other is: Honest and Helpful Critiques (from those who know what they are doing).

Unless we are JK Rowling, (although I’m pretty sure she’d agree with me) we need feedback to grow in our craft. But not all feedback can be helpful, or honest. In the publishing world, flattery will get us nowhere, likewise vague utterings from a reader (aka, your mom) on what they like or don’t like won’t help much. Moreover, non-writers don’t understand the writing world; for example, many don’t know what a query is, much less how to write one. But a writer can help you understand how to fix the parts in your story that aren’t working, write queries, synopsis, pitches, etc.

Once you find a group that suits you, perhaps you’ll find a Dr. Banner who’s science of writing can search out plot holes and character flaws. Or a Captain America’s kind but honest and confident critique on story structure and dialogue, or Thor’s God like natural talent for writing character and emotion, or Tony Stark’s style for those perfect first lines. What we don’t need, however, is a Hulk to destroy our work. Criticism without constructive advice will never serve us. (We can forgive the Hulk though, if he makes a mistake, and then task him the job of grammar and punctuation!) But remember, critique are meant to be helpful. Here is another post on how to give feedback.

The Avengers brought their own skills, personality, and strengths to the table but often used, to their advantage, each other’s skills and strengths. As writers, we do the same. Together they (and we) cannot be stopped—reaching farther than they ever could alone.

2. S.H.I.E.L.D. Stark Tower. Avenger Facility. Nick Fury, in other words, Insider information and tips on how to navigate the writing world.

Within the Writing World there is a whole lot going on. A plethora of resources and opportunities are available to those inside. Without a writing group and writing community, I would’ve never learned about NanoWrimo or Pitch Wars, (a contest I later won,) or the amazing YA community within Twitter, or conferences like Write On Con where I was introduced to Hannah. Neither would I have understood which were worth pursuing.

I learned more about growing as a writer, where to participate in contests, pitching to agents, editors, writing groups, tips, blogging, new books, marketing, and more.

Knowing the industry is super important if you want to be successful within it. Thankfully, the greater writing community has blown me away with their ability to share what they know with other writers.

3. Encouragement—No matter which stage we are at—writing; Revising; Querying; On sub; Book release; Promoting; Sales; we need encouragement.
The Superhero Writing World has a lot of ups and downs. Not only do we face outside threats, we also face inside threats. As Captain America fears his past & Dr. Banner fears his loss of control, Tony’s regrets, etc. They need each other like the Hulk needs his whole team to stop, save, and settle him.

As writers, our outside threats often come in the form of rejections and our inside threats often come in the form of self-doubt—Will we ever finish that novel? Will it be good enough? Will others like it? Will I ever get an agent? Will my novel sell? Why didn’t I get into that contest?

Your Team provides great support against these doubts! The amount of cheerleading and encouragement from those who are on the same journey is invaluable. We conquer our disappointment and jump right back in to win another battle. And we get to do it for others too.

4. We IMPROVE by critiquing others work. It’s also a chance to give back into the community.

Critique partners are just that: partners. They serve each other. Just as Thor teaches Earth’s Avengers about the Teseract, we can learn from one another’s victories and skills and knowledge.

In a group, we don’t just come to receive, but we come to give and the truth is: We have something to GIVE—our own unique skills, our own undying love for the craft; our endurance for editing and revising, and our own faith not to give up in face of disappointment. Likewise, as they give to us, we can give to them. When we dive into editing others work we identify and evaluate our writing in a fresh way. Guaranteed you will start making a checklist of things to change in your own novel after editing someone else’s.

Make time to critique others work. Your MS will greatly improve if you do.

5. Synergy, Accountability, Motivation, and Fun. (Is that 4 reasons in 1? Bonus!)
Accountability is not a chore with a team, it’s fun because you know someone will be there to read your work! And Synergy naturally produces motivation. A team can make all of our writing goals more enjoyable to do. It’s one of the most valuable strengths we have! Many of my Critique Partners have also become close friends. Major bonus.

So…here’s my question for you. WHO do you do the writing life with and what have you learned from them?

On a scale of Failed DC Movies to Amazing Marvel Films, I'm saying this post is some Schwarma level awesomeness.  If you want more of her greatness, you can follow Nova on Twitter, Instagram, her website, and The Spinning Pen. Go on. You know you want to. Now leave some comments below and tell us about some of your favorite parts about having an Avenger-style writing team!

Related articles:
11 Tips for Building a Successful Writer's Platform
Why Writers Should Strive to be More Like Batman
5 Tips to Fighting Off Writer's Insecurity

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  1. I encountered this phenomenon last year in college. I found 2 friends who are WONDERFUL at worldbuilding (I can hardly come up with an original toothpick) and another friend who is able to write nice characters who don't want to kill everyone. Meanwhile I was able to help her with some conflict (and not-so-nice characters), and also offer advice on dialog and stuff. Fun times. :)

    1. Faith, that is exactly what I'm talking about! Its so amazing when you have a team to sharpen each other!! Glad to hear it!

  2. Great post, I totally agree. I am finding this out more and more as I enter the writing community. A question for the author: how do you go about building said community around you? What are some of your favorite ways to do so?

    1. Hi Emily,
      Thanks for reading! That is a great question...When I was without a group, when I learned of anything writerly, I went to it and talked with people. I found people who wrote YA and found some that were more advanced, and I learned from them. Then I asked to read their novels, and started by giving what I could, honest critiques. That really built a lot of friendships. I am also a natural for gathering people. So when I met others writers, I jumped at the chance to meet together for an impromptu writing group, and some of these developed long term groups.
      Virtually, for example, I really started to put myself out there, while participating in Camp Nanowrimo, for example, I joined one of those "cabins" and there I began to interact with writers. I wanted to be with people who were at the same stage as I was (more seriously pursuing writing) and there I learned more about where I could do that. Then, I did what I never thought I would do, I got on twitter more! And starting submitting to contests, and I won, and before I knew it I had so many new writer friends willing to exchange work, beta read, give feedback, and encourage me. I hope this was helpful! If you have any more questions, I'd love to answer them, feel free to email me! *find info on my site or twitter!
      Good luck!!

  3. I love this post! And great use of The Avengers, by the way. I was just at a local authors event at my library last weekend, and one of the things someone mentioned was the importance of having a group of writers you can rely on for help, encouragement, and advice when you need it.

    It's been a journey, but I have found some writing friends that are great with this sort of thing. Even when I just need help brainstorming a blog post, they're there to share their thoughts. It's amazing what you can do when you work with others!

    1. Thanks Maggie! Glad you have a group, and yes. It is amazing what we can do together :) What do you write?


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