Just for Writers: Free, Weekly Open Mic & Support Group in Second Life

by Joan Kremer on September 14, 2009 · 6 comments

in Benefits of SL,Events

One of my favorite activities each week in Second Life is the Monday “Writers Symposium” I host at Story Mountain Center for Writers.

The symposium is rather a fancy name for what we do, but it’s a convenient term for this weekly meeting where writers gather, read their work to the others attending, and then, if they wish, receive supportive, constructive feedback on the piece’s strengths and areas of improvement.

It’s sort of like an open mic, in that anyone who attends can get on the list to read their material that session.  It’s sort of like a writers’ peer group, where writers share their work and give feedback.  And it’s also a neat way to meet and get to know other writers in Second Life.  We’ve also been known to share industry news, discuss writing techniques, and play around with writing exercises.

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A recent Writers Symposium meeting in Second Life

It’s always open to anyone who wishes to come – whether to read their work, or to just listen to others. Each week, new writers come to share; yet there’s also a core group of writers who’ve come regularly almost since the group started nearly a year ago at the TLE Educational Network in SL.  We have both published and emerging writers who participate, and they come from all around the globe.

Weekly Writers Symposium
Story Mountain Center in Second Life
5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Second Life time (Pacific time zone) every Monday
All writers are invited to participate!

Each week is different, depending on who comes and what’s read and discussed, but in general, the symposium goes like this:

  • Writers gather around the fireplace on the main floor of the Story Mountain Lodge (here’s the SLURL: Writers Symposium at Story Mountain) and tell the facilitator (usually me) if they’ve brought some writing to share.  They can share any form of written creative expression — from novels, to short stories, to memoir or other creative nonfiction, to poetry and even song lyrics — as long as it’s their original work.
  • One at a time, writers read their work aloud, using voice chat.  If a writer doesn’t have voice capabilities, someone else is always happy to read the piece for them.

Reading aloud is one of the essential ingredients of the symposium.  It’s a great way to practice reading to an audience before you begin your book tour (grins), plus you get a different perspective of your piece and often see new ways of improving it!

  • Writers share the text version of their piece on a notecard that only those in attendance receive.
  • After the reading, the writer can specify what feedback they’d like – general comments, or focused only on some specific aspect.  (We have firm guidelines that prohibit destructive feedback.)
  • Usually we can make time for everyone who wishes to read, though sometimes we have to limit the time per person.
  • If we have extra time after everyone’s read, we share and discuss writing tips, writing exercises, the creative process — anything that will help us master our craft.

There are no attendance requirements (which means the feedback may not be as in-depth, especially for a longer work, as you’d get in a closed writers’ critique group), nor does it cost anything.

The Second Life Writers Symposium at Story Mountain is a friendly, informal group, and if you’re a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry, come by some Monday, between 5 and 7 p.m. SLT, and see what we’re all about!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Butch Drury (1 comments.) December 21, 2009 at 12:39 am

What voice chat software do you use?

2 Jay December 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

This seems like a great place for budding writers to express themselves. Group input is always a good idea. Only thing missing are their drinks. They should all be drinking their aquasana water!

3 Haus und Garten (1 comments.) February 3, 2010 at 11:26 am

The Group communication is normally fantastic. You immediately have the input from many people, it is really fun. I´d like to see what´s next coming in Second Life.

4 Joan Kremer (71 comments.) March 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm

You’re right — immediate feedback really helps the writer, who tends to work in isolation.

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