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Writers Wanted for Writing Workshop

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posted on Sep, 26 2005 @ 05:56 PM
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Seeing the enthusiasm and budding talent for writing on this forum, I was wondering what people thought about setting up a mini writing workshop on this thread.

If we did it once a week say, and everyone posted something, a story, a poem, a paragraph; things they are having problems with or wanted help or advice on, then other people could write their opinions and weigh in with constructive criticism. That way, writers could get feedback on stuff they wanted and the gesture would be returned when the critic posted something.

I was thinking along the lines of rotating workshops leaders so everyone gets a turn to lead the workshop in the manner they think best.

It would be an invaluable, not to mention fun, resource for the ATS writing community and would take very little MOD or board supervision. We could all self-regulate and clean up after ourselves.

It wouldn't have to be an elite writing type thing either - anyone who wanted help with their writing could contribute and different genres would be respected. Rules would have to be into place obviously, like how long your piece should be or what you expect to get out of the workshop. In addition, timing is essential. It is unrealistic to expect everyone to read your story/work the minute you send it off. Usually things are sent a week in advance to give everyone a chance to prepare, but this being online, I supposed we could think around how would work.

As far as criticism - I know a lot of people shudder or assume 'constructive critique' equals flattery or false praise. Nothing could be further from the truth. People would have to be very careful about how they state negative criticism. I think it has its place, but tone is very important. You don't want to put people off or make them feel terrible about their writing. I for one do NOT want any part of that but telling something their story is good is als misleading and in the end harmful.

Workshops are quite good as you learn a lot from what others say - you also learn a lot about your own writing from analysing the writing of others: such as what to look for, how to sharpen your stories and how to make improvements - extremely helpful if you have looked at your writing for so long, you no longer know what to change.

We could also do writing exercises. I have tons of helpful books with great things to get your mind going. I have experience attending and teaching writing workshops - so can suggest all manner of silly and serious exercises. A lot of them are quite good for 'warming' up before you start working on your own piece.

I'm sure others here have been on workshops and that is why a rotating 'chair' would be ideal. So no one person is pressured to do it all the time and we would all get a chance to lead. We can get a fresh perspective every week. Plus you could lead the discussion how YOU want it. Some writers are interested in narrative, others in voice or POV, others want to talk about the simplicity of language or the importance of prose.

Think about it and let me know if you would like to participate. Writing is a very lonely and isolated experience - workshops are great because you get to occasionally come out of your shell to comment, discuss, critique and observe the writing of others as well as your own. I think the contests are great - but IMHO there needs to be far less competitive writing and a more supportive environment than the one we have now, especially for those who are just starting out. I know the collaborative writing forum is not top priority on ATS, but they've provided the space and opportunity and goodwill. I think we should take advantage of it while it's there.

This may not work or it may - I say we can try it out if you like and we can set-up a rota for turns and who wants to lead the workshop.

I think the best workshops are those where the people are really enthusiastic about writing and inspired. I have experience with face to face, email and web workshops, both teaching them and being part of writing communities - They usually work well - with a few notable exceptions. But again, boundaries and guidelines are important to set at the outset, so there is no confusion.

Anyway - if you think this might work vote yea with the little icon thumb - and if you think it is a sucky idea - you can say so as well and send me to the lions.




posted on Sep, 26 2005 @ 06:54 PM
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Sounds GREAT! Check your U2U



posted on Sep, 26 2005 @ 07:12 PM
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I think it's a great idea. The benefits of a workshop in writing skills would have 2 main effects.

Firstly, members will be honed, through criticism and praise, to develop much better posts. They will also, by necessity, become better readers.

Secondly, ATS would gain by the development of writing and reading skills within it's membership.

I know there are some posters who use english as their second or third language, thereby compounding their difficulty in getting points across. Such a group would be of great help to them.

I don't know how you'd intend to establish such a workshop, but you can count on my involvement. I can use all the help I can get.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 01:15 AM
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Masque and Brodband - Glad you are on board. Maybe we can sit around in a few days time and think about how to incorporate a workshop on a thread. Would be a challenge but I have confidence we can do it.


I'm glad you feel it's a good idea. I do as well.


[edit on 27-9-2005 by nikelbee]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 02:30 AM
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This is a fantastic idea, nikelbee. One of the primary reasons people post their stories on ATS is for review and to better develop their writing skills. A workshop such as this would be an invaluable method for writers to hone their skills, receive comments on their work, discover new ideas or draw inspiration, as well as maybe learning some new tricks to help improve their writing skills.

For this to work, I think that a degree of structure and organisation is required. For example, each week a different “Workshop Leader” could post a lesson, if you will, on a certain aspect of writing with which they feel comfortable. The schedule for these lessons would have to be posted in advance, though, so that people were aware of them and to reduce confusion and keep the process running smoothly. A separate thread could be dedicated to submitting writing for peer review and assistance, to keep the lessons separate from the review process. This would enable the lessons to proceed smoothly, as well as allowing people to submit their work for assistance or review or pose questions at any time. So, for example, a schedule might look something like this (for demonstration purposes only, of course):

Week 1 Creating A Setting (Jeremiah25)

Week 2 Writing Believable Dialogue (nikelbee)

Week 3 How Subtlety Creates Interest (brodband)

Week 4 Developing Characters (masqua)

Week 5 To Be Announced (nikelbee)

The “To Be Announced” lesson could be used to address any major area which persistently raised its head on the peer review/assistance thread. For example, if a number of people were requiring assistance on where to draw inspiration or ideas, the final lesson could be devoted to this topic.

I agree that criticism must be handled extremely gingerly – we writers are delicate things at the best of times and too many people pointing out what you have done wrong will destroy even the hardiest of egos.

I think that before this idea is put into too much focus, two things need to be done.

1) worldwatcher must be consulted. Even though I believe that such an exercise could run with minimal Mod input, her assistance would no doubt prove invaluable in alerting people to the concept, topping threads, etc.

2) You might consider running an official poll (I have no idea how to do this) to see if there is enough support amongst the writer community at ATS to justify going ahead with the idea.

If you receive positive go-aheads in these critical areas, I will be glad to offer any assistance I can, though there are others perhaps better qualified than I. Feel free to U2U me if you have any questions, nikelbee.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 02:43 AM
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Jeremiah25

All good points, reasons and layout. I had envisioned just what you wrote.
Rotating leads are 'essential' as well as establishing a rota in advance of names and topics.

To preserve the ego, while developing our writing - should be the goal. There are ways of delivering critique and I have a checklist I can start by sending. People can add to it or discuss which ones they feel we need.

As for consultation - I've thought of that as well.
I did some research yesterday and looked up some of the old suggestions for the collaborative w. forums and some people mentioned them back then, but nothing was undertaken.

I will U2 Worldwatcher as I think it is important she is onboard as well and get back with her replies/suggestions. But also Magic as he is currently DISC councillor.

Thanks for your ideas Jeremiah25 - very helpful and your imput and participation in the workshop would be great.


[edit on 27-9-2005 by nikelbee]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 03:07 AM
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Sounds like fun to me. I'd especially like to work on (learn more about/become comfortable with ) dialogue.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 03:23 AM
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Off the Street - Great! Glad we have another interested person. One more thing we could work on is analysing writers during our 'themed' weeks.

If you were leading and your theme was Improving Dialogue you could set exercises (some decent ones can be found online) and tasks for us the writers, that could go something like this:

10 minute writing exercise (to warm up) have two people talking to one another that are trapped on an elevator. This would be instant - no feedback required. Everyone would get ten minutes exactly to come up with something then post.

Weekly exercise - write a story completely in dialogue (no narrative) This would be the feedback portion that writers could post - either a new story or something they have been working on before.

Writers to discuss - Graham Greene and Stephen King (off the top of my head for example purporses) Choosing a literary and a contemporary novelist, who both write believable dialogue. We could either do passages or chapters of specific books. A search online might help some if they don't have access to a library.

Even a cursory glance to see how they set up dialogue would be invaluable. I stand in bookstores and browse and take note.
I'm also a closet book fanatic - my house is slowly being taken over by books.

Off the street - Dialogue is a great topic.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 04:47 AM
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I am in... I am always getting stuck

I used to laugh at people talking writers block...until I started writing.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 08:12 AM
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Just in case you're wondering, this thread and it's activities has my okay and will be moderated just like any other thread.

You're all writers, so obviously I don't expect to see any one liners

and you know the usual rules of the site.

What I would like to suggest to Nikelbee and those participating, is that you all go back and try to retouch many of the existing stories already written. You can highlight certain stories as "good examples" and "bad examples" of whatever aspect of writing you covering. Feedback and constructive criticism is one thing I believe our writers here don't get enough of.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 09:20 AM
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Thanks for that Worldwatcher


I think to go back and review people's stories would be useful, but I would not like to do so without their approval first. Some people can get a tad touchy about comments.

I like the idea of using past stories as good examples as well. This should be a useful forum/workshop for ALL writers who want anything reviewed or commented and who are willing to participate in discussions. We shouldn't seek to make it a 'club'.





[edit on 27-9-2005 by nikelbee]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 09:39 AM
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Well, feel free to use any of my stories as examples of what to do and what not to do. Here they are, for ease of reference:

Fimbul Lost

51:20

51:20 Part Two - Thou Art My Battleaxe

Strange Divinity

Bodies of Ochre

I See You

I also have collaborative work on the following threads:

This one

and this one. Feel free to use any of them to prove any point you wish. There are certainly aspects of what to do and what not to do in each of them.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 09:57 AM
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I find my writing to be wordy, hard to understand, disjointed, pompous, lacking clarity, obfuscated, elitist and, mostly, just plain boring.

Anyone wishing to comment negatively on ANYTHING I've written is hereby cordially invited to add to the list.

Nikelbee...I understand your desire not to 'step on toes' and the importance of tone in 'critical acclaim', but there is a need for that if we are to improve from this exercise.

All of us are restrained by the T&C's which we agreed to when we joined. As ATS'rs, most of us already know how to debate without flaming, especially now that the 'Three Amigos' have laid down the law recently to the betterment of the boards as a whole.

IMO, it would be counterproductive to join in a workshop and think that criticism is not the major part of its benefit. Are we not, for the most part, amateurs? Would we benefit from a worshop if we were expert writers?

As a fine artist my entire life, I have despised those who fawn over my latest painting when talking to me in person, and yet, behind my back, snicker at my ineptitude to any who would listen.

Personally, I would be grateful for negative criticism and with this post guarantee 'safety' boots so that the pain of having my toes stepped on will be minimal.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 10:22 AM
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Masqua

I think you misunderstand my point - I am a veteran of over 10 years (on and off) of workshops as well as a published writer in my own right and for a living I am an editor. You are completely right to say critique is what is needed and I don't shy away from it, nor do I EVER under any circumstances flatter, fawn or feign about writing. It is not just a profession for me, it is my passion and one I don't mess around with.

Rest assured you will get no flattery from me - unless you deserve it of course
What you will get is encouragement and advice and helpful suggestions. That is after all what workshops are supposed to do. They can't 'make' you a writer, but they can improve whatever you are trying to do.

The reason I mentioned step on toes is because it is important not to upset the delicate balance of people's ego - not just important - 'crucial'.

I've workshopped with novelists and well respected writers and i've seen tears and explosions and one guy even throwing things around the room before stomping off into the night never to be seen again.

At my last workshop a very famous and respected London writer took my friend apart (a good writer btw) until there was nothing left of him - not his dignity, self-respect - nothing... she pulled off his arms and picked away at his lines one by one - much to the chagrin of the 100 people present. We had to take him to a pub and keep him away from pointy objects until he collapsed in a Dylan Thomas moment on the table.

Constructive criticism has nothing to do with how many years you've been writing and how many years one has attended workshops - A lot of writers don't like them, some find them very helpful. I can be very detached and analytical when needed and I hope others here will try to do the same. What I would hate is for people to not take enough time and care to say anything at all - or all negatives things which are useful to no one.

What I try to do when a story needs a lot of work is to mention the things I can see the writer trying to do or the things I think might help improve the story.

I would never say - 'delete it all and start again' - I would ask, 'what are you trying to do with this piece and do you think it is effective as is?'

It is a question of respect, patience and encouragment - not egos and whip brandishing. There is a difference.

As per your question - would we benefit if were expert writers - yes. A lot of published writers still workshop - it keeps them sane - you can always learn something from someone, no matter how 'expert' you are. Also, because of the solitary nature of writing - voices help you from talking to the walls (although I still do this).

As far as 'safety' boots - worry not, I will remember what you said when I give out negative criticism


Some people can take it, some can't. I'm glad you can. But for others it might take a little. You have to grow a thick skin and I'm sure as an artist you know what I mean.


(Edit: sorry your name is now spelled correctly)

[edit on 27-9-2005 by nikelbee]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 12:46 PM
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Thanks for that, nikelbee...I'm looking forward to this exercise.

one little obstacle to note...


we will have to use code to refer to writing we are commenting on


since there is no quote button on this board.

Not a huge problem, but it can be time consuming, eh?

BTW, nikelbee...it's masquA...small thing, really, but the difference in meaning is actually quite large.



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:40 PM
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I think this is a great idea and long overdue. My one suggestion would be that it be moved to the short story section so even members without writers status would be able to join in. Otherwise those without that status are going to pester the heck out of WW until they get it.

As your DISC councilor I would also do my best to get this thread flagged so it would always be at the top. To keep it from becoming to long or crowded perhaps we could start a working thread for which ever story we were using as a project and keep this one as a main discussion thread.

I'd also like to see a thread called, "Writers tools" Where each of us could list the editors or spell checkers or grammer checkers or whatever other writing tools we use or locate out on the web. There are allot of good tools out there and we could share and review them together.

We could also share in the contests and other writing sites we come across. Most of us have a backlog of stories and would have no problem submitting them to other sites, especially a paying site. We have a zine here in my hometown that accepts submission online and pays ten dollars a poem. its called Poesia

Just a few of my thoughts on the subject, and I have allot of thoughts on it. Vote for me for DISC council and i'll do my best to make this writing community the very best that it can be.

Love and light,

Wupy



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 07:51 PM
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I agree Mr. Wupy



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 08:23 PM
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Hello All,

I think that the writing workshop is a great idea! I usually only write when the creativity hits me, and I feel the words bursting to get themselves written onto something. I enjoy it when that happens!
At any rate, I wouldnt mind at all parusing the web for resource material or as mrwupy suggested, looking for great tools for writers to use. I am afraid that I would not have the time-resource to lead a workshop, because sometimes my family can be quite demanding. Sometimes it is a few days before I am able to get back on the net. Still, I would like to be able to help where I could!

I have to say that I really enjoyed reading everyones short story entries! It just amazes me sometimes how someone's imagination has the ability to take the reader into another world. I guess that is why I am such an avid reader.
In the comments that I left after reading the storied, I left out any critiques or criticisms, so as not to be presumptuous.(and because, well, nobody asked me!! LOL
) I think that it would be great for us to create a supportive community where your work can only get better.

[oops! My smiley's were all kooky and I had to edit them!]

[edit on 27-9-2005 by sylvrshadow]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 08:26 PM
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Originally posted by mrwupy

As your DISC councilor I would also do my best to get this thread flagged so it would always be at the top. To keep it from becoming to long or crowded perhaps we could start a working thread for which ever story we were using as a project and keep this one as a main discussion thread.


Nikelbee and I are currently working on that right now


I'd also like to see a thread called, "Writers tools" Where each of us could list the editors or spell checkers or grammer checkers or whatever other writing tools we use or locate out on the web. There are allot of good tools out there and we could share and review them together.


Any volunteers?
I am currently about to set up a voting session for what "writer group" wants to do what. Mr. Wupy I think you would do great setting up the "writers tools", just send me a U2U and we can discuss this!

Whenever we get our Writers Workshop councilers I will send you a sig like mine to indicate that you are on the council, im currently writing terms and conditions for criticism for it (which will be bumped to the top).

Goals and who wants to run to meet these goals:

I am currently working on the terms and conditions for Writers Workshop.

I need somebody to come up with a "Writers Tools" handbook.


please feel free to post any and all suggestions you may have and U2U me if you would like to run for the Writers Workshop council.

Nikelbee will be out for about a week so please send your U2Us to me for questions.

Regards...




[edit on 9/27/0505 by brodband]



posted on Sep, 27 2005 @ 09:57 PM
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brodband, non writers can post in the "short stories" subforum, where this thread is currently located.

I'll start a Writers Tool thread, with a few links and sticky it and anyone with any additional links can post them.

Just keep in mind, not to comment or work on entries that currently active in any contests. Previous contest submissions are fair game.



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