Workshop Guidelines

Above all, be respectful.

  • A writing workshop is considered a safe space to drop your inhibitions and share work that has become a part of the soul. Maintain respect for your peers and for their work.
  • Make sure that your submission is ready for critique. Yes, it can be half of a chapter, but you should be happy with that half chapter. If you present a piece that you haven’t molded into a state you’re happy with, other people’s ideas might confuse the entire concept. 
  • Be polite and give feedback as well as you recieve it. This is meant for everyone.
  • If someone has made a comment you agree with, reply to them and add your voice so the author can see that section if that section is a problem or not.
  • Be polite and honest about the work. We aren’t here to tear people down or inflate egos. 
  • Part of a workshop is figuring out problems, so the conversation may take a negative turn. Be prepared to discuss your work without attacking your critiquers.
  • Be true to your opinion. If you respond strongly one way and the rest of the workshop feels the opposite, know that your feelings are still valid. Somewhere in the world, another reader will feel the same way – and the writer should be aware of that possibility.
  • Know how to let it go if others don’t agree with your critique. There is no need to fight for your point. Say your piece and move on.
  • Know the difference between a “bad story” and “poor execution of a good concept.” Patricia Pete says, “When writing, we have to pay attention to how we use language and what it communicates to other people… It can be an out-of-this-world concept, but if the writing is strong and the plot clear, you’ve got something. Or perhaps you have an amazing concept, but it becomes a car crash of a story, which is immediately written off. Instead of sitting on ‘it’s good’ or ‘it’s bad,’ we should be asking ourselves: How do you tell an effective story? How do you show that story? And most important, are you having fun with that story?”
  • As a writer, don’t argue the criticism being given and never interrupt to do so. Auerbach Berlin says, “Try to listen and breathe and address notes in your writing.” Be confident in your work. Ask questions if you have them and say thank you.
  • Whether presenting or commenting, avoid getting personal, Auerbach Berlin says. “Don’t go off on a story about yourself or your life. That’s not feedback.”
  • Comments about formatting, grammar and spelling are helpful, but the purpose of a workshop isn’t to copy edit (unless it’s been asked for by the author). Focus on the “big picture” concepts and present the writer with your marked up pages if the story is riddled with errors.
  • Keep an open mind. If you are set in your ways, the whole point of getting ideas and opinions to help improve your work is defeated. Your fellow writers might spark something you’ve never considered.
  • Use the critiques you receive – or don’t. The workshop police won’t come knocking if you don’t incorporate every suggestion.
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