Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Entry # 154 - "Workshops & Feedback"

St. Michaels - June 16, 2013 - Photo by Jan Bowman

Having just returned from yet another summer writers’ workshop, I have thought about my own experiences in a range of workshops over the past few years. I find that most reviewers are kind, thoughtful and helpful.  A good reviewer does not attempt to make the author’s work his story, but rather, respects the vision the writer has for his or her story. 

But after a workshop, one of a writer’s most challenging tasks is to know what to use and what to ignore from a writer’s workshop peer review, for not all writers are our peers.  Some are at early stages of their development and might not have the insights of those who have spent more time and energy getting in touch with the process.

If one has suitable peers who read carefully and offer thoughtful reactions to a piece of writing, then much good can come of having skilled peers offer insights. So what are some traits of a good workshop reader?  My friend, Daniel Mueller, writer and teacher, suggests these steps as part of his review process. He says...

Sunset at St. Michaels - June 16, 2013 by Jan Bowman
It is helpful to read the work thoughtfully and then give it a little time before you read it a second time, because this allows you to reflect and offer clearer insights. Then analyze the work on three levels:  structure, character(s) and the idea or theme, and the language used to achieve an overall effect. And during the actual workshop discussions think about the work in terms of how it works - with specifics. What works for you as a reader? And what confused you as a reader? This is not a time to tell the writer how to “fix” the work.  That is the writer’s job and any changes a writer makes must accommodate the vision of that writer. 

About Jan Bowman

Jan Bowman’s fiction has appeared in numerous publications including, Roanoke Review, Big Muddy, The Broadkill Review, Third Wednesday, Minimus, Buffalo Spree (97), Folio, The Potomac Review, Musings, Potato Eyes and others. Glimmer Train named a recent story as Honorable Mention in the November 2012 Short Story Awards for New Writers. Winner of the 2011 Roanoke Review Fiction Award, her stories have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, Best American Short Stories, a Pen/O’Henry award and a recent story was a finalist in the 2013 Phoebe Fiction Contest; another was a 2012 finalist in the “So To Speak” Fiction Contest. She is working on two collections of short stories while shopping for a publisher for a completed story collection. She has nonfiction publications in Trajectory and Pen-in-Hand. She writes a weekly blog of “Reflections” on the writing life and posts regular interviews with writers and publishers.   Learn more at www.janbowmanwriter.com or
visit blog:  http://janbowmanwriter.blogspot.com

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