Wednesday, July 09, 2008



Workshopping is where we explore some of your writing in which you use the techniques of literary journalism.
  • First, you need to complete the assignment on time.
  • Next, you bring to class on workshopping days an at least 10-graph representative selection of your work – enough copies for everyone.
  • You should include on your selection any questions you would like the class to consider or requests for any advice they might be able to give you.
  • It is incumbent on everyone to respond to those requests as best they can.
  • During the discussion the writer should take notes and remain silent except for answering questions “yes” or “no”.
  • Do not attempt to defend or offer explanations for anything.
  • Before the discussion, class members need to carefully read the selection. Mark it up with legible notes and suggestions in the margin. Also, answer the writer’s questions.
  • Also, avoid pointing to grammar, punctuation etc. problems. This is not the place for proofreading. It only dissipates our energies. But feel free to note such problems on the paper and point them out to the writer afterward.
  • Avoid general “I like” or “don’t like” comments, but be specific. Tell your team what you think is effective or not effective or might have been done better. Your advice should be concrete and explicit – but be kind.
  • For example, it is often better to couch your suggestions in the form of a question rather than as a command – that is: “maybe you could use a different word here” VS. “use a different word here.” You should understand you are not telling the writer what to do. You are making suggestions or giving advice.
  • And don’t be general in your criticism whether positive or negative. Point to specific words, sentences or passages that prompted your criticism.
  • You can also dig into your own emotive reaction to the story and tell how it affected you.
  • This is also the place to ask the writer questions, but still the writer cannot reply – only take notes – except for “yes” or “no”.
  • The writer should understand that he or she does not have to change anything based on the class critique.
  • At the end, the writer may briefly respond, but keep in mind our time constraints and that we need to move on to the next writer.

1. What was story paper about?
2. What literary techniques did the writer use and were they effective.
3. What was the point of view of story?
4. What worked well and why?
5. What did not work well and why?
6. What’s your favorite sentence or passage?
7. What needs work?
8. Where were you confused?
9. What did you want to hear more about?
10. What seemed out of place, too truncated, or went on for too long.
11. What do other people think about this criticism (or whatever)?
12. Did anyone else have an example of this from elsewhere in the story?

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