May 2, 2005, 11:51 AM
Post #23 of 235
I'm a fiction writer and without question my favorite form of workshop reponse occurs when respondents give me running commentaries of their reactions/what they're thinking, in margins. "I'm intrigued by this. . . " "I'm wondering whether this bloody glove means we'll be meeting O.J. soon. . . " "I'm STILL wondering where O.J. is. . . ": that kind of thing really lets me know what readers are thinking, when, and maybe even why. I'm able, that-a-way, also to distinguish between types of readers: those who "get" me, those who "don,'t" whether I care.
Re: [edwriter] Critique Guidance in MFA Workshops
In my experience (conferences only) I'd say that about 1/2 of workshop group members do conscientious jobs. 1/4 do okay jobs. 1/6 or so are really careless, sloppy. . . ought not be there in the first place. I couldn't BELIEVE there were some-such, even at some "prestigious" conferences I attended. . .
I think that if respondents do enough work in advance on the ms'es, then the session itself seems to go well. I'm usually very relieved when the leader chimes in, to amplify, clarify, solidify, connect. . . In my creative writing classes I also ask for shows of hands ("How many of you thought what Sharon did. . . that O.J. was about the enter the room? How many of you expected someone else?") I like sketching out/having sketched out for me a "where is the story now," kind of thing. I think class concensus, imaginative fillings-in-of-blanks, even arguments ("OJ?? No WAY!! Weren't you READING at the bottom of p. 2?) can be very inspiring for a writer, and emphasize the fact that it's the PIECE we're talking about. . . NOT the person.