- Safety. Writing is a risky business. Even if it's fiction, you leave pieces of yourself between the lines. When you put yourself out there, vulnerable, it's crucial that you feel safe as you're doing it.
- Crap detectors. If the dialogue sounds hokey, the other writers need to feel empowered enough to shout out, "That sounds like a Lifetime Movie script! Crapola!" If the writing gets boring and petty, the critique members need to feel comfortable saying, "That's pure drivel. I'm falling asleep here."
- Laughter. Writing squeezes so much out of us. When you write something humorous, you definitely want genuine laughter from your audience. If you can make someone wet their pantyliner as they read your story, you've scored. And if you can poke fun at each other, if you can't help but laugh at the cute blonde who's snorting, you're in a great group.
I hope--as many of us celebrate various holidays this season--that we are all able to count the gifts we enjoy. The gift of family, the gift of friends, the gift of words...