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belgium


Nov 10, 2009, 3:40 PM

Post #226 of 235 (3689 views)
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Re: [Junior Maas] Workshop stories [In reply to] Can't Post

Last year, as an experiment, our workshop instructor had us workshop an "anonymous" story. A few of us recognized it, but most had never seen it before and the story didn't fare too well. Had I been the author, I would have slunk out of the workshop feeling like the stupidest person alive.

The story, um, had been written by a very well respected writer and had appeared The New Yorker a few months prior. I'm not saying that the NYorker is the touchstone of brilliance, but they've been known to have pretty good editorial instincts from time to time.

But what this showed was that a workshop can find fault in just about anything you give them-- because that's the job of workshop participants: to snuff out ways that a writer can improve a story. Only a bad workshop exists as a validation tool.



Ridiculous Words

(This post was edited by belgium on Nov 10, 2009, 3:44 PM)


spamela


Nov 10, 2009, 4:05 PM

Post #227 of 235 (3677 views)
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Re: [belgium] Workshop stories [In reply to] Can't Post

That's one of the problems with the traditional workshop I think--the idea that we're all there to "fix" something. This implies that something about the story is already broken or wrong. This can become especially problematic when people turn in polished, finished pieces, which I see happening a lot too. Not only do I dislike the whole fixing idea as an underlying workshop paradigm, but I think people who turn in finished pieces to workshop for whatever reason (to impress the instructor and cohort, because they didn't have time to write something new, etc.) are sort of wasting time as well. I had a workshop many years ago with a writer who turned in a piece that had already been published. What did she want us to say about it? In her mind, she was done with that particular story (and said as much. I have known people to keep working on/expanding pieces that have already been published but that's not what was happening here). Anyway, even if a workshop piece is a draft (and not already of publishable quality), I still think that viewing it as something that we can collectively fix is kind of weird.


__________



Nov 10, 2009, 5:31 PM

Post #228 of 235 (3660 views)
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Re: [spamela] Workshop stories [In reply to] Can't Post

Really? My biggest complaint about workshops was the lack of fixing going on. Not so much the tendency to view each story as fundamentally broken, but the way the brokenness was always viewed at the thematic level. Style, for whatever reason, kind of seemed off limits.

The most helpful thing I could have imagined would have been our teacher putting each story up on the projector, pretending he'd woke up hung over and found it and must now set out to fix it. Would've learned much more about mechanics that way then, Gee, would Bob really have been motivated to cross the street by that remark? and, Maybe this should have aliens!.

Poetry workshops were great, though. Not only did you get into the mechanics, there were also times when people would just look at something and say, Don't touch it, it's done!


six five four three two one 0 ->

(This post was edited by Junior Maas on Nov 10, 2009, 5:34 PM)


OldScribe2000


Nov 10, 2009, 6:46 PM

Post #229 of 235 (3641 views)
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Re: [belgium] Workshop stories [In reply to] Can't Post

How can you not "fare well" when it comes down to handing over an opinion of a work, no matter its origins?

Years ago, I studied under a teaching assistant who has since evolved into a top-notch published poet and MFA instructor. She would hand out photocopies of essays, stories and poems she enjoyed and wanted to teach. When I studied these facsimiles, I saw there were markings, notes in the margins, that she'd attempted to erase on the originals before she ran copies. I looked closely and saw they were the kinds of notations an editor would make. She was editing top-rate published material! No wonder she ended up publishing 4-5 books and stacked a long list of awards.

And, of course, we've all read material that's been revised and republished. Tobias Wolff just published a short story collection of "Greatest Hits." Read his explanation in the foreword of that book.


VickiH
Vicki Hudson


Nov 20, 2012, 3:27 PM

Post #230 of 235 (2134 views)
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Re: [edwriter] MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

I found workshop critique in my program less than helpful often due to many of my peers did not have effective critique skills and the program did not do much to train students in critique skills. I had a fortunate background from a writing group I'd been in that gave me skills and a definite mindset about always respect the author and the work. I have found this missing in many of the schools of thought on the methods used in workshop. So much so that I published a book on writing groups and critique which would be helpful for MFA students or anyone looking for effective writing groups. The book is a free download everywhere except on Amazon of course where both the Ebook and print version are sold. (Only because Amazon won't let authors do free unless restricted to only on Amazon and no other markets.) Tools for how to critique in a way that respects the writer and the work, even when providing the difficult feedback is the essence of the book. The book is titled No Red Pen: Writers, Writing Groups & Critique by Victoria A. Hudson and is a free Ebook found in most ebook venues.




Vicki Hudson
http://vickihudson.com/
T/@vickigeist and @vicki_hudson


(This post was edited by drayke on Nov 20, 2012, 3:31 PM)


dahosek
D. A. Hosek

Nov 28, 2012, 5:52 PM

Post #231 of 235 (2070 views)
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Re: [VickiH] MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

I always keep this article in mind when I'm dealing with workshop critiques: http://www.glimmertrain.com/fmjan09.html A short version would be: workshop is not about getting feedback on your work, it's about learning how to read work critically to be able to then apply those skills to your own writing. I know that in the last round of workshops for my MFA program, I gave a lot more to the other writers than they gave to me in terms of critique (I think that they probably got more from me than from the instructor, based on his feedback on my work).
-dh


---
University of Tampa MFA '14
http://dahosek.com


alamana
Jennifer Brown


Nov 28, 2012, 7:48 PM

Post #232 of 235 (2064 views)
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Re: [dahosek] MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
A short version would be: workshop is not about getting feedback on your work, it's about learning how to read work critically to be able to then apply those skills to your own writing.


Yes! Well said!


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


pongo
Buy this book!

e-mail user

Nov 28, 2012, 9:23 PM

Post #233 of 235 (2061 views)
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Re: [alamana] MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

I think -- I hope -- that at a certain point it is about getting feedback. My poetry group is made up of pretty accomplished poets, most of whom don't need to learn much about critical reading. But their notes do help me improve my work.

Maybe it's just meant to refer to MFA workshops, in which case I agree completely.


The Review Mirror, available at www.unsolicitedpress.com

Difficult Listening, Sundays from ten to noon (Central time), at http://www.radiofreenashville.org/.

http://home.comcast.net/~david.m.harris/site/


alamana
Jennifer Brown


Nov 29, 2012, 7:18 AM

Post #234 of 235 (2049 views)
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Re: [pongo] MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I think -- I hope -- that at a certain point it is about getting feedback. My poetry group is made up of pretty accomplished poets, most of whom don't need to learn much about critical reading. But their notes do help me improve my work.

Maybe it's just meant to refer to MFA workshops, in which case I agree completely.


Yes, I was just thinking about MFA workshops with the above. I've gotten useful feedback--and expected it--in other settings. (And, I might add, that in MFA workshops I always received very, very helpful feedback from the professors).


Be regular and orderly in your life, that you may be violent and original in your work. -- Flaubert

http://www.jenniferkirkpatrickbrown.com


maida


Nov 29, 2012, 11:58 AM

Post #235 of 235 (2041 views)
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Re: [alamana] MFA Workshops [In reply to] Can't Post

When I was in my MFA program, I told a teacher that I was getting some radical feedback on a story from my classmates that I wasn't finding helpful. He said, "The feedback on your story isn't for your benefit, it's for theirs." I know this is definitely true for me when I give feedback. Regardless of whether or not the feedback helps the writer with her own work, it always helps me with mine.

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