In the previous post I said the entire point of a writing workshop is that it provides the best means by which an author can determine whether or not they’re hitting the literary target they’re aiming at. Because it’s so easy to go blind to one’s own work there is nothing more useful between conception and publication than feedback that tells a writer whether they are on or off their intended course. A workshop can provide that feedback.
The mechanics of the standard fiction/writing workshop are simple. There are variations and permutations, of course — some of which I comment on below, or will deal with in later posts — but the basics have been remarkably consistent over time.
Workshop Mechanics and Process
The general idea in a fiction workshop is that members take turns submitting (or ‘putting up’) stories for review by the workshop as a whole. The expectation is that each author will do as much as they can to perfect the story they’re working on before it reaches the workshop. In this way the workshop’s feedback advances the author’s knowledge as much as possible.
In advance of each meeting the leader of the workshop asks for volunteers to put up stories for the next gathering. Because writers are a skittish lot, and because fiction often dictates its own pace, trying to schedule individuals into slots that will be available weeks or months ahead usually does not work. [ Read more ]