The Write Way
Ready to tap your inner scribe?
Wake County has numerous writing groups eager to help.
By Don Vaughan
North Carolina has a deep literary heritage, boasting such homegrown luminaries as Thomas Wolfe, Maya Angelou, and Charles Frazier, just to name a few. If you dream of joining their ranks, an impressive array of regional writing organizations are available to help you become a published author. Among the ones you might want to explore:
The North Carolina Writers’ Network
Established in 1985, the 1,400-member North Carolina Writers’ Network is the largest organization serving all writers in the Tar Heel State. Annual membership is $80, with discounts for seniors, young writers, households, and others.
The NCWN hosts three major writing events a year: a spring conference traditionally held in April in Greensboro, the rotating Squire Summer Writing Workshops in July, and a rotating fall conference in November, to be held in Asheville in 2019 and Raleigh-Durham in 2020. The organization also hosts a series of online classes throughout the year.
In addition, NCWN Regional Reps host free monthly get-togethers that are open to the public. These range from workshops and open mics to other literary-themed events.
“The North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary for both self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone,” notes communications cirector Charlies Fiore. “No matter your experience, background, or publishing credits, there’s a place for you in the NCWN.”
Triangle Association of Freelancers
Established in 2003, the 150-member Triangle Association of Freelancers offers networking, education, and mentoring to freelance writers, editors, and others throughout North Carolina. Annual membership is $15.
TAF meets on the last Wednesday of each month, except December, at Milton’s Pizza & Pasta on Six Forks Road in Raleigh, starting at 5:30 pm. There is usually a guest speaker at the meetings, which are free and open to the public. The organization also sponsors a one-day, multi-track spring conference called Write Now! The conference is held at The McKimmon Center at NC State.
“Triangle Association of Freelancers is the perfect organization for writers who are just getting started, but it also has much to offer the experienced writer,” says executive director Nanette Lavoie-Vaughan. “One of the group’s greatest assets is its brain trust. We have members with years and even decades of writing and publishing experience, and all are more than happy to answer questions and provide support to those just starting their writing careers.”
The TFC Screenwriters Group
Aspiring screenwriters are encouraged to check out the TFC Screenwriters Group, established in January 2017 under the umbrella of the Triangle Filmmaking Community Facebook group. Membership is free.
The group meets twice a month, but takes a break during the summer months. Meetings are free and open to the public. Venues vary, but past meetings have been held at the Hunt Library at NC State and in Durham, says co-moderator Jim McQuaid, who has been writing and making short films for nearly 20 years.
“Our focus is film scripts, both short and long, and television pilots,” McQuaid reports. “We read and review the work of two writers at each meeting, and maintain a queue of who is scheduled to bring pages to future meetings. Members and interested folks who have reached out receive an email reminder of the next meeting.” The organization does not host conferences or other events, but meetings are conducted in a workshop format.
The Research Triangle Writers Coffeehouse
An offshoot of the original Writers Coffeehouse in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the Research Triangle Writers Coffeehouse was established in 2017 and currently has about 120 members, a tenth of whom attend any given meeting. It meets on the second Sunday of every month from 2–4 pm at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Meetings are free and open to the public.
“We have had special guests come speak to us from time to time, but our meetings are usually more of a casual discussion than a formal event,” says coordinator Gray Rinehart. “We don’t have a formal agenda, and even if I come prepared to discuss some recent development in the world of writing, we will often set that aside in favor of helping someone work through an issue or to answer a new writer’s questions about publishing.”
Rinehart defers to New York Times best-selling author Jonathan Maberry, the founder of the original Writers Coffeehouse, regarding the organization’s purview: “The Writers Coffeehouse attracts everyone, from absolute beginners to award winners and bestsellers. We’re all writers, whether we write fiction, poetry, plays, screenplays, comics, nonfiction books, articles...well, pretty much anything. A writer is a writer, and we all share some common ground.”
Heart of Carolina Romance Writers
One of two state chapters of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Cary-based Heart of Carolina Romance Writers was founded in 1993 and currently has nearly 60 members. Annual membership is $30, and members must also be a member of the RWA, which costs $99 annually.
“We are primarily focused on developing the romance writer, and we work with authors at any stage of their career,” says president Laura Browning. “In addition to romance writers, RWA has a long history of developing and educating aspiring authors in a wide range of genres. We also have [authors of] children’s and young adult [works] among our membership.”
The organization meets on the second Saturday of the month at ECPI on Doie Cope Road in Raleigh. General meetings run from 1 to 1:30 pm and are free and open to the public. The general meeting is usually followed by a mini-workshop or seminar, for which there is a $10 fee. “We also hold one full-day conference,” Browning reports. “This year it will be in October, but will move to March in 2020.”
In addition to chapter meetings, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers hosts small subgroups that meet in person or online to focus on developing craft. The organization also offers a wide range of online classes focused on craft, marketing, and the business of writing.
Cary Playwrights’ Forum
Established in 2007, the Cary Playwrights’ Forum is aimed at scribes interested in writing for the stage or screen. It meets on the third Wednesday of the month from 7–9 pm in the conference room at the Cary Arts Center (101 Dry Avenue). Meetings are free and open to the public.
“Writers usually come with 10 to 15 pages of their material to hear it read aloud and get feedback from fellow writers,” says co-founder Lydia Craft Sbityakov. “We love to have actors and directors attend as well.”
The Cary Playwrights’ Forum hosts a variety of theatrical events over the year. Last year saw productions of Bar Plays (short plays by North Carolina writers that are set and performed in a local bar), PlaySlam (a three-minute play competition), and NC10 by10 with OdysseyStage, a festival of 10-minute plays. “We also hold playwriting workshops from time to time,” Sbityakov says.
Established in 2009, Triangle Writers is on Meetup with a collective of subgroups that meet throughout the Triangle. It currently has 1,190 members, and attendance is free.
“Triangle Writers subgroups hold regular meetings,” says founder/organizer Tara Lynne Groth. “Some meet monthly, others bimonthly. They are held in North Raleigh, downtown Raleigh, Apex, and West Cary/Morrisville.” In addition, Groth organizes a half-day floating creative retreat on the Haw River called Pen and Paddle, as well as occasional workshops and seminars.