Sunday, September 8, 2013

WorldCon Post # 4: Writers' Workshop

I am a proponent of workshopping one's writing. Authors get too close to their stories and can't see all of the problems. Fresh eyes help strengthen a piece.
As I previously blogged, I registered for the writers' workshop at WorldCon. However, I did so with apprehension. Having participated in five previous workshops at two different Cons over the years, I knew that anonymous workshops can be stressful. I simply do not know where a fellow writer is in his/her journey, or how my comments might affect their willingness to continue the uphill slog toward publication*.
Therefore, it's important that I reexamine my original reasons for participating.
This clip art is a pretty good
representation of a writers'
critique group. You sit around
a table critiquing each other's
work. At DFWWW we read our
writing aloud for 15 minutes & then
receive five minutes of critique. In
other groups I've participated in the  
story is emailed ahead of time and
everyone brings a marked copy to
share with the submitter. Both
methods work equally well in my
opinion. I'd be interested to know
the thoughts of other writers.
1.    It's Worldcon. If I hadn't participated, I would have regretted it. The writers' workshop was one more positive experiences in probably the best Con I've ever attended.

2.    It's inexpensive. The nominal price I paid was a bargain compared to everything I learned. Without a doubt, this was the best Con writers' workshop in which I've participated. 

3.    The small group size (four aspiring, two professional authors) was perfect. Not too much to read, so I didn't feel brain dead. The stories were written at different levels of experience, but none were amateurish. I can honestly say I enjoyed every story and look forward to reading its polished form in a pro mag one day.  

4.    Yes, I grew. Going in, I knew something was wrong with my submission, but I couldn't pinpoint the problem(s). The critiques revealed several plot holes I had overlooked. To say I felt silly for failing to see my own errors is putting it nicely.

5.    A good friend told me 'networking' is a bad word and should not be used outside of the business world. Whatever you want to call it, I still suck at it. However, this workshop had such a good vibe we continued it afterwards by sharing lunch. That was a new experience and I felt that I had established some good friends in the SF&F writing community.

Final assessment: my five solid reasons for participating in the writers' workshop all proved to be valid. I'm happy I registered and I'm still buzzing from all the incredible mojo.
Next, the last post of the WorldCon series: my personal successes.
*It's easier critiquing people in my weekly writers' group. I know them and they know me. We've already established a baseline for critiques. Con workshops involve unknown factors. I have no idea if my comments will help or harm the participants. I know there are some writers who take the stance that all authors must possess a thick skin. I agree with that, but I still don't want to be the reason someone trashed their dreams because of a comment I made. 

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