Posted On July 18, 2012 by Print This Post

Group Dynamics and Writing with the Story Orgy

Get ready for something a little different today. I first stumbled on the Story Orgy group – Em Woods, Hank Edwards, Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, J.R. Boyd, and Jade Baiser – through a friendship with Em and Hank  which developed on Facebook. Through both of them, I was introduced to rest of the SO group and their amazing writing group.  They each produce a chapter or a small scene of an ongoing story and publish it on their individual blogs and the group blog every Monday.  Their stories have evolved into several published anthologies and more are planned for the future. It is something I look forward to and I am always entertained and amazed by their productivity.  They are clearly more than writing partners – they are a funny, irreverent, crazy, and a little racy but I couldn’t resist having them here to explain how this all works. Brace yourselves for the Story Orgy group . . . .

Group Dynamics and Writing with the Story Orgy…

{Havan} Oh freak a nut from a squirrel…where did I put it? Lee is gonna kill me if I lost it…again *heads Hank’s desk…knocking folders to floor* I was supposed to be responsible…*steps up on couch and starts throwing pillows*

{Lee} *leans in doorway watching*

{Jade} *leans behind Lee and whispers* what’s going on with Havan?

{Em} *ducks* Hey! Watch it, gorgeous.

{Havan} What? *giggles* They are called ‘throw pillows’ you know…*climbs over back of couch and looks under it* Man, whose turn is it to vacuum? *glances up at calendar on wall* Oh…um…never mind that question…

{Lee} What’s up, y’all? Havan, those cushions are fresh from the dry cleaner after your little foray with the chocolate last weekend.

{Havan} mmmmmm…chocolate…*points to my muse and giggles* that was purely research…

{Em} What-…..Havan. What are you looking for? *puts pillows back on couch*

{Jade} did someone give her some coffee again? Calm down Havan!

{Havan} *jumps up from behind couch* Coffee? Kitchen! *goes to the kitchen and starts searching the drawers*…the rest will be back any minute now and if I don’t find those…*screams and starts bouncing…paper waving in hand* I found them!!! I found the directions to Robin’s place, you know, the Romance University blog. I knew I wouldn’t lose them! And as soon as the ice melts from being in the freezer it will be perfect to read…um…except the ink might have run a bit.

{Em} *giggles* Should I get the hair dryer? And what are we going to do at RU while we’re there? Anything good?

{Jade} we’re going on a trip again? Oh I love those trips!

{Lee} Oh, now…You know its going to be better than good!

{Havan} *bobbles head* I’m really looking forward to this…we are talking about working together…doing our anthologies…brain storming…writing…organizing our Mondays…everything! *throws hands in air and giggles*

{Em} Oh,that’s right…we’re going to talk about being a writer’s group.

{Havan} Yep. A real behind the scenes thing…

{Lee} *eyes mess* Um…how far behind the scenes? We should clean up in here before JR sees it. Do we need to hide the bag with the cuffs and feathers?

{Havan} *snorts* Who do you think helps me pick out the stuff for my bag?

{Em} Well, I can’t talk for everyone else (well, I could…but…you know, it comes off all egotistical wenchy-like and I don’t want that…right, Havan? *grin*)

{Havan} *mutters* once…once I took over the conversation…just because that once lasted over a year…

{Em} *clears throat* but I know for me, writing is both a solitary exploration and an exercise in group dynamics. I love my SO buddies and our readers. But, how about for the people who don’t know us – a little introduction to the world of the Story Orgy:

Back in January 2011, a few of us (six, to be precise) decided to group together and lend support and encouragement while we wrote, blogged, twittered, facebooked and explored the world of publishing. It didn’t take long for acquaintences to turn to friendships, and that into family. We lean on each others’ shoulders when the chips are down, and we cheer on release day. We just do it…one prompt at a time. That’s part of what makes us unique. Each Monday, the Story Orgy (that’s us) writes either a full length scene or a “hook-up” to a blog story that must incorporate a chosen prompt.

So that’s us in a nut shell.

{Hank} Did someone call me?

{Havan} *giggles* Em did say nut.

{Hank} *rolls eyes all dramatic and falls on couch, scattering throw pillows on floor* Just because I write creepy stuff like sea monsters and possessed dolls and haunted mirrors, or possessed sea monsters who like to look into haunted mirrors, doesn’t mean I’m a nut. *thinks a moment* But it probably doesn’t hurt.

{Havan} Yes…but did the possessed sea monster hold his dolly while looking in the mirror? *giggles*

{Lee} *Lifts Hank’s feet and slides onto sofa* Come on over here, Havan and quit waving that around. Bring us some tequila and limes and let’s see what we can come up with for Robin.

{Em} *throws pillows on top of Hank* Stop shoving the pillows on the floor!

{Hank} But it’s how I write! You know I like to stretch out like this. Right Havan?

{Lee} Hey, Havan…d’ya think he’s ticklish like Em? I mean, we got his feet here…

{Havan} Absolutely Hank…can we find out Lee? *giggles and cuddles on the couch with Hank & Lee* Now, where’s our lovely French pastry with our pics so we can choose the pic of the week?

{Jade} Here *eyes everybody* Hey, make some room for me please! *sits near Hank* Hiya Fur King!

{Lee} Oooh…Havan…let me see that! I love a mature man!

{Havan} *leans to Lee and shares the pics*

{Em} Aw, c’mon guys….we’re supposed to be talking about writing, not choosing next week’s pic from Jade! Lee!! You’re not helping….Dang it. Where’s JR when I need him?

{Havan} eeeeek…*hides the pictures behind us…nudges Lee and giggles*

{Lee} Oh…um. Yes, Em. Brainstorming. It kind of works like this. One of us will head over to the group…we have a “super secret group” on FB where we do all our plotting. Oh what? Like they didn’t all know that anyway? And we’ll just post a thought… sometimes nothing happens, sometimes it grows into a 500 comment thread and we end up with a starting point for a new anthology.

{Havan} And our readers play a major role in that! The excellent prompts they send in…it’s so hard to choose just one! Participation from the readers we know and love…and the new ones that join us…is key. *blushes and shrugs* We do it for them…*big smiles*

{Lee} Em is awesome at finding the best prompts, so that is entirely her department, and Jade has the most amazing collection of art, so that’s her area. All the rest, we work out together, in chats, and threads, and notes.

Another key factor, I think , is that we are all kind of on the same page as writers. We write because we love it. Our styles are different enough that we don’t step on each others toes. Every prompt takes us all down different paths.

{Em} What a great point! We are all writing in the same overall genre – M/M romance – but we’re all different enough in our writing voices that we keep it fresh from one blog to the next when our readers come for coffee and a good story on Monday mornings.

{Havan} *bounces* Yeah! We all bring something yummilicious to Monday!

{Lee} Of course, Em’s a bit of a dominant force… and keeps us all in line and on task. *eyes Em*

{Em} I’m innocent, I tell ya. That paddle is pure decoration. *put-upon sigh*

{Havan} HA! That ain’t what you said last Friday…*giggles* Also…I gotta just shout out that to be able to have a safe haven…*eye roll* not me…though I–*face palm*–focus here Havan…It’s great to have a group where you can venture and put your unedited work out there and get honest feedback…that isn’t derogotory toward you or your work…but real.

I read somewhere recently that a beta reader is one of the most important things for an author to have…not only was I gifted with the best freaking muse in the whole wide world!!! *kisses Lee and smiles big* But I was blessed with four others that I trust completely with their feedback and opinions…and I’m allowed to have my own opinions too…there is no wonder why I’ve grabbed hold and won’t let go…ever…*looks around and blushes* oh…am I still talking? *hangs head to hide smile*

{Em} I guess what a great writing group boils down to is a group of people who aren’t afraid to speak up when something sounds off, or when something is fantastic. I’ll say it a hundred times that writing blurbs and synopses are hard enough on your own, but when you have a sounding board – people who will call you on your vagueness. your just-plain-wrongness. or when you’ve got it right – those things are infinitely better for it.

And at the end of the day, I think having others there to help you pick up your pieces after a rejection or a particularly rough edit round is what the writing community is all about. Giving back, sharing and just enjoying the company on an otherwise solitary path.

*door opens and JR peeks his head in*
{JR} Aw, man! I forgot we were getting together today! What did I miss?

{Em}We were just talking to the RU Readers about how our little group works. But it’s time to go. *waves* See you all around!

***

What question do you have on how this all works? Have you considered forming a writing group like SO? Did it work for you?

On Friday, Theresa Stevens is back for her “Ask and Editor” feature.

***

Bio:

The Story Orgy is:

Em Woods

Hank Edwards

J.R. Boyd

Lee Brazil

Havan Fellows

Jade Baiser

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21 Responses to “Group Dynamics and Writing with the Story Orgy”

  1. Hey Gang! Thanks for being with us today. Now, I’ve always wondered just how you juggle writing your chapter/scene for the SO post each Monday and your deadlines for your work.

    How do you think you help each other grow as writers?

    Robin

    Posted by Robin Covington | July 18, 2012, 5:34 am
    • Hey Robin! *hugs and smiles* First thanks for having us. :)

      To answer your question…it is now second nature for me to make sure my Monday prompt is locked and loaded…it’s a part of my weekly ‘ritual’ I guess…I’ve been with the SO since before I even signed my first contract, and they were there to cheer me on…hold my hand…help me with rejections and successes…

      It’s amazing what just being there to listen can do for a person. And my fellow orgiasts always have time to listen to me…and that isn’t a small feat, let me tell you…lmao

      Posted by Havan | July 18, 2012, 5:40 pm
  2. Always a good time when the SO is around! :)

    Posted by Karen Candido | July 18, 2012, 5:57 am
  3. Hello, Story Orgy folks!

    Fun post today. Can you tell us where you post all this fabulous material each Monday?

    What suggestions would you have for others who might want to form a similar group?

    And how do you balance your own work with this collaborative fun?

    Whew – guess I’m just full of questions today!

    Kels

    PS – welcome to RU!

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | July 18, 2012, 6:23 am
    • Hello Kels and thanks for having us! :)

      Em already addressed your questions…but I just wanted to add that chemistry is so very important. And it’s not uncommon to take our Monday prompt posts and buff them up…add some goodness to them and submit them. :)

      Posted by Havan | July 18, 2012, 5:53 pm
  4. Morning SO!

    Great to have you here, what a hoot! =) My question is how do you decide what to write about next? Is there a vote? A Ringleader? =)

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | July 18, 2012, 6:35 am
    • I agree with Em…the story tells us where it’s going…we just have to work the prompts in properly and um, sometimes very creatively (you should see some of the prompts we’ve had lmao)…hehe

      Posted by Havan | July 18, 2012, 5:55 pm
  5. Oh, and Lee…

    Where are you from? I do love anyone you says y’all :-).

    Kels

    Posted by Kelsey Browning | July 18, 2012, 6:37 am
    • Hey, Kels

      I’m from all over- spent some time in the south, and the north, did my time on teh east coast and the west, and finally settled in the midwest- fingers crossed- But I was raised by a Southern Mom, I guess that’s why the South comes out when I’m talking.

      Posted by Lee Brazil | July 20, 2012, 7:27 am
  6. A huge thank you to Robin for asking us over today! We do adore you and appreciate your support.

    Now, to answer your questions:

    Robin, in our super secret spy group on FB we post snippets that we need help on, articles that we’ve found on the ‘net, and do “round robin” editing. We try to share any interesting tidbits and keep them in files in our group for future reference. :)

    Ooh, I love a Chatty Kelsey! *grin* Ask all the questions you’d like. We post our chapters on our own blogs (if you look at the very bottom of the post, Robin was lovely and posted our links). As for how we balance our own work versus group work, I would say that it kind of becomes intermingled. We use our blog stories to create both our group anthologies and our own stand alone submissions. But we’ve changed over to doing Hook-Ups (250-word posts) every other week so that we can spend more time focusing on edits and stories that don’t air on our blogs.

    As for suggestions, the biggest ones are finding a group of people who can take and give criticism well, can temper the bad with the good, and that you get along with. You have to have a great friendship chemistry or eventually someone will come away offended – or worse, they’ll not share their true opinion, and then the purpose of the group fails. Make sense?

    Carrie, we have prompts scheduled out to the end of the year, but other than that, we let the characters dictate the story. Just like any other writing. You just can’t force ‘em, you know? LOL

    (Hi Karen!!)

    Posted by Em Woods | July 18, 2012, 7:26 am
  7. Hi SO,

    Do you critique as you go or wait for a finished product? If one in the group writes faster, is it a problem for the rest? Does that person’s WIP become the main topic?

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | July 18, 2012, 7:29 am
    • Hi Mary Jo! Thanks for swinging by…

      Well, the speed of writing varies for each of us depending on the stories we’re writing. One story might sing along and take two or three weeks to write, others might drag painfully and take three months. It’s one of the main reasons we have our prompts set up so far ahead. It lets those who are in the groove keep the motivation going, and it keeps the pressure on when we’re staring at a blank page with no clue where to go.

      We tend to critique a finished product, but if something is just niggling at the back of our minds about a scene, we post and get the feedback when we need it. Nothing is worse than losing the groove because a scene is slightly off kilter.

      Whichever posted snippet or shared MS is most current gets the attention until we’re done. We’re incredibly good at multitasking. :)

      Posted by Em Woods | July 18, 2012, 7:38 am
    • And thank goodness the speed thing isn’t a problem…I write at turtle speed sometimes…lmao

      Posted by Havan | July 18, 2012, 5:57 pm
  8. Thanks for introducing us to the Story Orgy gang, Robin! This sounds like FUN!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | July 18, 2012, 8:57 am
  9. Welcome to RU, SO!

    For your group projects, do you ever actually rewrite each other’s copy? Or do you just critique and then have the original author revise?

    Posted by MJ | July 18, 2012, 10:21 am
    • Hi MJ!

      Nope, no rewrites here. When we collaborate (like with our SO One-year anniversary story), we critique and offer suggestions. Whoever is listed as the author is the actual person who wrote it. Any edits are suggestions and then are taken into account by that author. :)

      Posted by Em Woods | July 18, 2012, 10:30 am
      • Yep MJ, whatcha see is whatcha get…:)

        Oooooh…Em…that anniversary story was such fun!!! Gotta do that again…you know 2 years is right around the corner…hehe

        Havan

        Posted by Havan | July 18, 2012, 6:00 pm

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