All of us over at the Scribblerati watering hole get along remarkably well. I think this is the biggest reason why we've kept our group so small... adding another personality into the mix would risk endangering our sanguine dynamic.
Not to say we don't disagree on things. If we didn't bring diverse points of view to the table, we wouldn't be much of a critique group - we'd have to rename ourselves "Preaching to the Choir," or "You Guys are the Best" (said with a drunken slur).
The one disagreement that keeps coming up again and again is the Great Word Debate. I like me some big words. Not ridiculously out-of-place, big-for-the-sake-of-being-snooty words - but words that either are A) Very specific and therefore exactly right for the moment, B) Fit rhythmically into the sentence, or C) are charming and funny. Some other members of the group, however, disagree with the use of unusual words in writing. They quote Stephen King, who noted that (paraphrasing here) any word that stops the reader in his or her tracks should be removed, as it gets in the way of the story. I quip back that I'm less on team Stephen King, and more on team Stephen Fry - a man who uses a heck of a lot more outré words than I.
For example, in my book, Ursula Evermore and the Case of the Man Who Wasn't, I use the following words: circumnavigate, parsimonious, collywobbles, and uxoricide. Mark, in particular, has objected to every one of these words, and more. At most, I have one of these per chapter, and probably less often then that.
A) Many people do know these words. I know them, after all - and it won't stop the flow of the story for these people.
B) If the reader doesn't know the words - then they can either look them up, or try and glean their meanings from the surrounding text. After all, in this modern age, the answer is often only a right click or a touch away. This is how I learn new words - I read them in a story, book or article, and I look them up. Heck, several years ago I learned the word 'sartorial' from Entertainment Weekly - hardly a highbrow publication.
A) He's right, there are many people who will come across a so-called 10 dollar word, and because of frustration, or thinking the author is being pretentious, will put down the book.
B) Sometimes you're just in the mood to read something with a good story and characters, and you don't want to have a dictionary by your side.
C) People who abuse the thesaurus are annoying.
Jon, for his part, argues point A more often than anything -the fact that my word choices are going to cost me readers. Eventually, after several years of back and forth on this - the argument becoming more and more heated each time - we had to decide to agree to disagree. And the truth is this - the type of person who will want to read Mark's awesome post-apocalyptic vampire book is more likely to be akin to Mark in his or her preferences, and the person who will want to read my time travel 1920s British murder mystery is more likely to be akin to me.
But it brings up the question - what kind of reader are you? Are you on Team King, or Team Fry - or on a different team altogether? Do you like to encounter unknown words in your fiction, or do you prefer your story to flow, uninterrupted?
Weigh in now... !!