For several years, I've been a WWWP--one of the wild women wielding pens. We're a fierce fivesome, meet twice a month at one of the WWWP's house, and are serious about our critique work.
To be honest, we're also serious about our snorting (in laughter). When we began our group--before we even met--we created an agenda for our meetings. The first 15 minutes would be for off-task chitchat. In an hour and a half, we'd be done and hurtling our way home.
But that was before we became friends.
It was also before I got much fatter... because when we started out, it was only iced tea we had as refreshment. And then an occasional plate of cookies found its way onto the table we surrounded. And then once in a while, some cake or pie. Once in a blue moon, our hostess invites us over for dinner before we begin the critique work. (On those evenings I wear sweat pants that are three sizes too big. After all, our host bakes a quiche that is magnifique! She gets the cheese from a French monk who lives in a cave. Really.) Now, it's only occasionally that it's only tea... which is unfortunate for my waistline.
This fall I started up another writing critique group. These are all teachers, and we meet at Fergie's, a tavern-restaurant. (We have our own private writing room... except on days when some old men have been playing cards for five hours straight and have displayed no sign of coming to an end. On THOSE days, we simply sit in the tavern/restaurant part, like common beer and whisky lovers, and talk loudly.) We eat pizza or fried chicken or taco salads or burgers, we drink iced tea or soda or beer, and we too are serious about our writing... Unfortunately, most of our seriousness gets sucked up in our classroom, leaving us only sporadic energy to write our own stuff.
However, on our next meeting, we might be starting a collaborative project. One of the teachers suggested writing a joint book/story. One that revolves around one single event--and each of us will write from a different character's perspective. It's a way to focus our writing (some of us are a bit rusty) and is also a way to infuse a piece with distinct voices.
We'll see if the whole group takes the bait...