COLUMBIA III (a writers’ group)

A Critiquing and Networking Group for Writers and a Chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association

Next COLA3 Meeting:

Date: 08/23/2022 Time: 6:00pm

Status: We will be meeting

Venue: The Cobb House

Expected Attendance: 10

Writers tend to be a solitary lot. Pecking away at a keyboard, or scratching out prose with pen on a notebook, they work alone. It’s often their temperament and, arguably, is the nature of literary creation. It’s a picture that ranges from romantic to tragic–the author struggling with personal demons to mine the depths of his soul and create a work that explores the angst of living.

Problem is, working all alone, how can a writer know whether her work speaks to anyone but her? Or maybe the vision is there, but the execution obscures it.

The fact is, we can’t know without feedback. And that feedback is best when coming from like-minded souls with minimal biases. Other writers, that is, and these can be found in a writers group.

Now, you won’t have to search hard to find pros and cons noted all over the Internet about writers groups. It’s like any relationship: how well it works for those involved is often a matter of compatibility and the sheer desire to make it work. When a writers group works well, it’s an invaluable tool for a writer.


Let me introduce you to a writers group that has worked well for me. It is the Columbia III chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association. If you are a South Carolina writer, or writer-in-progress, Columbia III (aka: COLA III) can provide a venue to regularly meet with other writers and read your work for critique, bounce around project ideas, share tips and frustrations, and generally network in a nonthreatening environment of people who appreciate the written word.

The members of COLA III collaborate in mutual support of each other’s artistic and technical efforts at self-expressing through the written word. We are a group bringing a range of life experiences to our writing. We write in genres of mystery, science fiction, memoir, poetry, blog posts, and even sermons. Any writing is welcomed for critique.


Our meetings are characterized by honest reactions to the readings with criticisms based on each member’s technical knowledge, experience, and gut feeling. Our critiquing is always done with the greatest respect for every writer’s effort.

COLA III meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month. Our meetings begin at 6:00pm and go until no later than 9:00pm.

Anyone is welcome to meet with us without cost or obligation for three meetings. After that, they must join the SCWA to continue (membership is $52/year–see the links below).

Among the benefits of SCWA membership are the following, taken from their website, with some comments from me:

  • critique groups (that’s done in the chapters–COLA III, for instance)
  • chapter meetings (COLA III, again)
  • encouragement/accountability (you’ll find that you put much effort into manuscripts you intend to read for critique)
  • practical advice from other writers (yes, we share tips and info)
  • networking opportunities (from the SCWA and our own resources, we share news of conferences, contests, classes, etc.)
  • discount rate for SCWA conference attendance (there’s one every year)
  • eligibility to contribute the SCWA anthology, Catfish Stew (and also be able to submit work to the SCWA’s journal: The Pettigru Review)
  • The New Quill – SCWA’s monthly newsletter (currently being revamped for restart)

I’ll send anyone expressing interest in attending our meetings a PDF file of information. This contains our critiquing guidelines. In summation, these are:

I’ll send anyone expressing interest in attending our meetings a PDF file of information. This contains our critiquing guidelines. In summation, these are:

  • Prose readings should be a maximum of six (6) pages, indented paragraphs, double-spaced with no extra space between paragraphs, 12 pt. (Times New Roman or Courier) font. Your reading should come to about 1600 words.
  • The author passes out written copies of her reading to all members present, then reads her work.
  • Critiques are offered going clockwise around the table, starting with the person to the left of the author. The first person to read is selected at random.
  • When critiques are finished, the manuscript copies are returned to the author with the critiquer’s written comments.

The information PDF elaborates on the above.


COLA III also puts out a newsletter we call, Chapter Three. It’s our way of sharing chapter news and information, and it also promotes our group. You don’t have have to be a member of COLA III or the SCWA to subscribe to Chapter Three. And it’s free. You can see samples of our past newsletters here. You can sign-up for the free newsletter here.


I hope that I’ve convinced you–my fellow writer–to consider making Columbia III your writers group. I did so myself back in 2016. I was a writer wannabe who had been trying to write a novel for eight years. I had written a number of short stories and even self-published a collection of them. I was lacking feedback, however, and didn’t realize the cost of that lack. In a nutshell, I just didn’t know what the impact of my work was upon readers. After three years of critiques from COLA III, I now have a good idea. I’ve applied what I’ve learned and I can see that the readings of my novel are having much greater impact now, than when I started. I also don’t feel so isolated in my writing work, as I did before.

I think all our members will have similar observations about their time with COLA III.


Now it’s your turn. Please take the NEXT STEPS to joining our group of writers helping each other to write:

  1. Send me an email at this address: and tell me you’re interested in meeting with COLA III and you’d like more information.
  2. I’ll reply and attach a PDF file giving you the details about our meetings including our critiquing guidelines.
  3. Show up at our next meeting. Don’t expect to read, but you can participate in every other way. You can critique or you can just observe.
  4. After your three free meetings, join the SCWA via their website (see the links below).
  5. Write the work you must write, and bring samples to your writers group meetings to share for critique.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Ray Foy
Chapter Leader
Columbia III chapter of the South Carolina Writers Association

Send your Inquiry Email to me at:


About the SCWA (Who are the SCWA and what they offer writers).

SCWA Sign-up Page (Memberships are $52/year)

Chapter Three newsletter page (You can subscribe to our newsletter here).

Chapter Three past issues (Archive of our newsletters)

Books published by current and past members of COLA III

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