March Meeting

When – Saturday, March 19 at 1 PM

Where – Cardinal Cafe on N. Walnut St. in Stillman Valley –

Discussion Topic – Writing scenes and creating arcs with a new perspective

Pre-meeting Reading – How to Create Awesome Scene Arcs that Surprise Readers by KM Weiland

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CALL for ENTRIES – OWLS 2016 Writing Competition, The Only Story, open to fiction and poetry. Entries due by August 20, 2016. Go to Contest Entry page for more details. Contest open to all writers.



February Meeting


When – Saturday, February 20 at 1 PM

Where – Meg’s Daily Grind at N. Alpine and Guilford (behind the Walgreen’s)

Discussion TopicRomancing your Characters

Would you date your male lead character? Trust the woman in chapter three to remove your appendix or even a sliver from your finger? It’s important for writers to know their characters as well as (or better than, really) they know their family and friends. It would be nice if we could inspect our protagonists and all on an app–eHarmony? Christian Mingle? Tinder?–before we decide if they’re right for us or our story. Unfortunately, they only exist in our heads so we have to do the hard work of profiling and revealing them all by ourselves (or maybe with the help of another writer). So how do you draw them out so you can draw them on the page? We’ll talk about ways to do it and discover how knowing them well adds depth to the story even if you don’t use hardly anything you discover.

Pre-meeting reading, click the titles and absorb:

The Character Chart method

The Interview method

Creating Characters – Five Mistakes Beginning Writers Make

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And here are a couple additional resources you might find useful:

WritinGeekery: Writing the Perfect Flaw

Next Meeting

The Writing Irish

March 2015 Novel/Prose Group
When: Fri., March 16, 1 to 3 PM; arrive at 12:30 if you’d like enjoy lunch with the group before the meeting
Location: Irish Rose Saloon, Rockford
Lunch Details: Irish favorites, sandwiches, sausages, salads, full bar, and more

Meeting Topic: Character Pillars
In January we discussed the four cornerstones of character creation: Fear, Secret, Quirk, Flaw. This month we’re going back to an article by MJ Bush on to build on those cornerstones with pillars:  “Four cornerstones, and now four pillars? Yep. It takes a lot to build a strong character. The cornerstones are the baseline. They set the stage. But the pillars are where the FUN is. Each pillar can align with a cornerstone, but that’s not the only option. Just a handy one. The pillars are prone to layers. And we all like layers. Just ask Shrek. Anyway, the pillars are often interdependent. The interplay between them gives you a lot of flexibility. Bend them to your will.
Pre-meeting Reading Assignment & Prep

Here’s the link to the main article; note that within it are links to click and read for more great articles: The Four Pillars of Strong Characters. Important: After you read, see II below for additional meeting preparation.
Meeting Preparation: Identifying the Pillars within Characters
Pick a main character from literature or dramatic film. It should be a beloved or despised character you’ve come to know well through a recent read or multiple re-reads (or views). (You may choose to build on the character(s) you used for the cornerstones exercise in January.) Consider that character‘s pillars, jot down notes and perhaps even list examples, and bring them to the meeting. We’ll discuss everyone’s picks. Will you be able to defend your reasoning about your chosen character and his/her pillars? Think of it as practice for being able to articulate aspects of your characters!


<3 the February Meeting!

 ​Image from
February 2015 Novel/Prose Group
When: Fri., February 13, 1 to 3 PM; arrive at 12:30 if you’d like enjoy lunch with the group before the meeting
Location: Fifth Alarm Firehouse Pub, in Byron
Lunch Details: American favorites, sandwiches and burgers, soups, salads, full bar, and more

Meeting Topic: Using Multiple Points of View (POVs)

You have a noel idea for a novel but somebody’s got to tell the story–a character, a narrator, a god-like narrator…multiple characters. It’s the last one that concerns us this month. How many multiple characters? How do I handle them? What choices do I have to make? Writing, like life, is brimming with choices. Not just choices about character names, settings, and major plot points. No, those are the easy ones! Here we’re talking the subtle, structural choices that, if done well, a reader won’t even think about. At the moment, we’re concerned with point of view. We’ve discussed POV before but this time we’re focusing on what’s commonly used in novels: multiple third person (two or more integral characters “telling” the story).

Pre-meeting Reading & Assignment

POV: Multiple Points of View
5 Dual-POV Writing Tips at Ava Jae’s Writability – Note the article fails to mention that dual-POV style (alternating between two characters’ points of view) can be done in first-person or third-person style.
Handling Multiple POVs from Jordan McCollum’s blog

After you complete the reading, troll your library for two or more published novels you’ve read that use multiple POVs, ponder them, and bring them to the meeting with your discussion notes about what you like or dislike about the authors’ choices in the following areas: character “voices,” POV depth, effectiveness of multiple POV use.


The Write Practice

I’m on the email list for a site called The Write Practice and today they sent a great, timely email about Into the Woods (the film) and using old stories and fairy tales as inspirational material for new stories and novels. Here’s a teaser from the article and a link to the ful article, and don’t forget to check out the practice exercise:

January Meeting Rescheduled to 1/16

When: Fri., January 9 January 16, 1 to 3 PM; arrive at 12:30 if you’d like enjoy lunch with the group before the meeting

Location: Lucha Cantina, in Edgebrook Center, 1641 North Alpine Road, Rockford
Lunch Details: Mexican cuisine, plus sandwiches and burgers, chili and soups, salads, lunch-time specials, margaritas and more

Meeting Topic: Character Cornerstones
We’ve discussed character creation and development in group, but what lies beneath intriguing characters and adds character-related dimension to plot? How do you begin to complicate your characters or if you’ve already started developing them, have you asked yourself about what might be missing? Do your characters, within the story context, seem like real people? Are they fully faceted crystals or flat sequins–shiny on the top but without depth? From this week’s article by MJ Bush on  “Truly strong characters are complex enough to carry the story, pull in the reader, and give a sense that there’s more going on under the surface. It’s not about being tough. It’s about being well-written. Plot can springboard off of a strong character from various “soft spots” engineered specifically to propel it forward. Those soft spots are nestled in the cornerstones.”

As always, if you want to, bring a friend to novel group or any of our other events–the more writers the better.

Future OWLS Events:

February Novel/Prose Group meeting, February 13, 2015, at Fifth Alarm in Byron, IL, note 2/13 is the second Friday

March Novel/Prose Group meeting, March 6, 2015, at Irish Rose in Rockford

April Novel/Prose Group meeting, April 3, 2015, location TBA


November Meeting Full of Drama!

November Novel Group
When: Fri., November 7, 1 to 3 PM; arrive at 12:30 if you’d like enjoy lunch with the group before the meeting
Location: Egg Harbor Cafe, 1603 N. Alpine Rd in Edgebrook Center, Rockford
Lunch Details: Delicious food, coffee, tea, and more

Meeting Topic: Dramatizing Real Life

When you read a great biography, what is it that makes it as compelling a read as fiction? Is it the subject? The joys and trials of the life chronicled?
None of the above? In recent years noted “true stories” are more frequently told with finesse and artful drama, setting scenes to show emotions and interactions rather than simply reporting them.
This month, Sarah shares a great article that introduces the idea of “dramatic realism.” At the meeting she’ll discuss the article and what dramatic realism means for fiction and nonfiction. Afterward, Dawn will add points and examples about the value of dramatization. We’ll conclude the discussion with a brief writing exercise.

OWLS Events:

Novel Group meeting, December 5, Ten Pennies Internet Cafe, Oregon, Illinois

Novel Group meeting, January 9, 2015, location TBD – note 1/9 is the second Friday


Galena Trip Rescheduled!

That’s right, the Get Inspired Field Trip is on again! We’ve rescheduled it for Sunday, October 19, 2014. There should still be some color to see and we’re hoping for lovely weather so we can enjoy the crisp fall air and vintage atmosphere. Here’s information and the schedule. Remember, we’re going October 19! Click images to read the details.


Join us for this inspiring adventure!

Join us for this inspiring adventure!

Galena Trip Schedule, Oct. 19

Galena Trip Schedule, Oct. 19