(3/14/02 7:59:03 am)
| Workshops: Any thoughts from the published writers/artists?|
I finally put a flash fiction piece ("A Girl Once Fell") as well as a short story ("Rebootin' Oz") up at the Zoetrope workshop.
Have any of you who are published used workshops, online or otherwise? Was it helpful?
(3/14/02 11:38:20 am)
I ahve a weekly writers group where we read and critique one another's works.
I am a bit leery of online workshops for two reasons: 1. it could be construed as publication, making it unfit to sell elsewhere. And 2. it is too easy to copy there.
(3/14/02 2:17:34 pm)
| (crossing fingers)|
I'm concerned about that as well, but I don't really have access to anyone willing who's writing seriously, so...
(3/14/02 2:31:17 pm)
| Writers' groups|
Finding like souls for writers' groups can be a bit difficult, but try these suggestions:
1) your local library;
2) college board postings;
3) independent bookstores.
Even if you are new to an area there is undoubtedly someone else looking to throw ideas off of a fellow writer. Local writing seminars are also a good place. I found some of my better "author" friends in the most unlikely places, like the playground and McDonald's (our kids were both playing in the playland). If someone you know has contact with a better known author that lives in the area, you might work that person for suggestions too.
One other thought, there may be others on this board willing to read and share with you.
I found it was difficult at first to prepare myself for the criticisms of others, but after a time, you will find it a useful exercise.
(3/14/02 3:52:00 pm)
| Ramble, ramble|
Actually (laughing), I AM the person with contacts to better known authors, in the area; I'm the Programming Chair for Knoxville's SF Con. One writer, who-shall-be-nameless as they are known to the writers here, said that "friends don't ask friends to read their work, if you want to write, write". Fooey on them, it's their fault that I'm writing anyway...
I think that part of the appeal of the online workshop is that I can fit it into a very busy schedule easier, and, no one will humor me just because they like me. It's easier for me to honestly review, as well.
Also, local writers come in all sorts, most of whom don't get SF.
My friend Kevin, a writer, likes my work, but what does that crazy
guy know? He likes Hemingway and hangs out at coffee shops with
me discussing semantics...
(3/14/02 5:16:26 pm)
| Jane... How often?|
Jane (I want to say, Ms. Yolen), did you say once a week?
You workshop with a local group weekly?
When do you write? Or review? The reviews are killing me! But my flash is getting good reviews. Yeah!
(3/14/02 6:21:58 pm)
| Ramble, ramble|
I'm one of the members of the Del Rey Online Writing Workshop and have been since it began three years ago in its first incarnation.
While I wouldn't submit an entire novel or the final drafts of a short story, I have submitted a partial novel and early drafts of some of my shorts. It was wonderful when I first began writing, while I learned the basics. It's still wonderful -- primarily because I've made a number of online contacts with writers I respect. I've got a great support group and a number of people whose crits I value. I've managed to meet many of these people in person at Chicon and Philcon.
It was also my way into my online crit group, so I have much to be thankful for and very little to complain about.
I've seen a number of writers go through the workshop and make sales
to pro markets -- Charlie Finlay ( F&SF) and Ruth Nestvold
( Asimov's) have sold short stories; Karin Lowachee's novel
Warchild, the winner of the Warner Aspect contest, comes
out in April; Cecilia Dart-Thornton's second novel in her Bitterbynde
series will be out in May. Others are making sales to smaller publishing
houses and semipro markets.
There's never any guarantee that pro sales will come your way if you join a workshop -- but the difference input makes is invaluable. I would have had no one in the immediate area to talk to about writing, so an online writing workshop was just the solution for me.
(3/14/02 6:34:59 pm)
I *did* submit final drafts...
I need to know if there's polish missing that I can't see.
The experience is a lot like going to school; I'm learning reviewing skills that I need as our SF group plans to put out a quarterly mag of work by local jr. high & high school SF writers and artists, with a guest pro writer and artist editor each issue. Guess who one of the the non-guest editors will be?
Mostly, with the reviews, I really feel the urge to say, "Hey, here's an idea: PUNCTUATION."
(3/14/02 9:53:57 pm)
| Re: Hmm|
I wouldn't worry too much, myself. Chances are that you'll have something to think about after you receive a few crits, with the end result that the story may very well change.
As for the proliferation of punctuation-free story zones? Oh my heavens, yes.
(3/15/02 4:10:57 am)
Punctuation is something I'm very careful with in my writing. It's a great tool for pacing, and if I break the rules, it's deliberate.
another thing entirely.
(3/15/02 5:21:55 am)
We read aloud at our weekly group and so there's no "homework." I couldn't manage if ZI had to read mss. every week at home and write out comments. Been there, done that--as an editor.
(3/15/02 6:44:04 am)
This is only slightly off-topic... Can anyone here recommend web sites, conferences, or other resources for a budding young children's book illustrator of my acquaintance? He's talented but still polishing his work, and needs to learn more about the industry he aspires to joining. Where should I send him?
(3/15/02 7:10:03 am)
| Re: illustrators|
I'm a children's writer not an illustrator, but the following info. should help either.
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators is a great
resource. They have local chapters and both regional and national
confrences. They provide info for both illustrators and writers.
Web site: www.scbwi.org/
The Northeast Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
has a great web site: nescbwi.org/
Harold Underdown's site has good industry information: www.underdown.org/
Aaron Shepard writes good articles for Society of Children's Book
Writers and Illustrators' Bulletin about both writing and the business
side of children's books. His articles are available on his web
I like reading the articles in The Children's Writers and Illustrators Market, published annually by Writer's Digest Books. Articles include info for both writers and illustrators.
And then there's Jane Yolen's web site with the great advice to any artist - the BIC advice.
Hope some of this helps.
(3/15/02 8:34:52 am)
No, Terri, don't worry about off-topic...
I'm more than willing to read all useful information, and put it onto our website. KASFA is all about nurturing & promoting local artists and writers. That wonderful "links for writers and artists" page will be up soon, I hope. I'm reworking the whole site now.
(3/15/02 9:14:54 am)
| Re: Ramble, ramble|
Just as a data point, I'd like to note that, while workshops may be useful, they're not _necessary_. I was selling for several years before I joined my first writer's group, and worked almost entirely in isolation up until then. I'm not saying that's the best way to go, but generations of writers managed when there was no other option. Don't let the lack of a good online venue or a local group be a stumbling block, if that's the way they pan out.
(3/16/02 7:21:01 am)
| Re: Ramble, ramble|
Laura: Thanks, that's exactly the information I was looking for!
(3/16/02 12:27:45 pm)
| Re: Ramble, ramble|
(3/18/02 9:32:16 am)
| Workshop flavors|
I have a lot of experience with normal, corporeal-presence workshops: e.g., Sycamore Hill, Clarion, Philford, and a local group that meets more or less quarterly in and around Philadelphia, run by Judith Berman. And I'm negotiating with the U of Penn at the moment to teach a non-credit online writing course either this summer or next fall (the later it gets, the more likely it'll be fall), and which would incorporate Quicktime lectures, emails and chatroom dicsussions (but you have to pay for the privilege).
One of the members of Judith's group is involved in an online workshop/critique group, but from what I can tell, she gets as much bad as good advice from them. The electronic format can limit, I think, your ability to judge the feedback, and the less certain you are of your material, the more you need to know the prejudices and strengths of the critiquer(s). I've sat in on corporeal workshops where it was quickly obvious that one individual's opinion was purely venomous and should be dismissed outright; and I said as much. I might not know--or hear--that online.
So, while I think online workshopping can be beneficial, I think also that the pitfalls are larger and more care must be taken.
(3/18/02 10:04:58 am)
It's that potential for venom in person that I want to avoid...
the infighting and such.
Online - *click* - they go away! Magic!
(3/18/02 12:18:30 pm)
| Re: Personal|
Greg's right. You do have to be more careful about who you listen
to online. Thankfully, you can avoid some difficult critters easily.
On the other hand, I don't think you can avoid them completely.
But that's true in real life, too.
The nice thing is that an online setting gives you access to many more people than you could hope to find in your immediate face-to-face group. And there's definitely an anonymity to it, which could be considered as much a benefit as a negative.
I don't know how true this is of Zoetrope, but at Del Rey's workshop, I have access to all members' critiques of any submission that is posted. (Once a submission disappears, so do the critiques for it.) I can search for members that I think critique well and thoughtfully. I can also choose those submissions I want to critique. I inevitably look for people I think are better writers than I am, or, since I've been there for some time, whose opinions I trust.
There are vicious people out there. I know that even my workshop has had its share, but it's usually dealt with quickly and efficiently by the workshop administrators.
I've only been in a face-to-face critique session once, at Chicon's writers' workshops, and I found the experience very positive, also. I can't say which is better, although I'd say that the face-to-face was a trial for me since it was my first time and I'm rather shy in real life. Wouldn't keep me from attending Clarion, if I ever get the opportunity.
(3/18/02 1:54:38 pm)
| online critique groups|
I have also considered joining an online critique group. I do have another question though based on something Jane Yolen said:
"it could be construed as publication, making it unfit to sell elsewhere."
I've heard that before. I was wondering if that was true of groups that have a password and very strict rules about only reading what you will critique etc? My other question is at what point do you mention to a potential publisher that you have had your work critiqued online? Do you mention it in your query letter? Or wait until they show interest?
I just recently moved to Indiana and I have not had much luck finding a critique group. I've tried checking at libraries and bookstores but they have not had any information. I am going to an SCBWI conference in April and I'm hoping to find some people there who may be interested in forming a group. But if that doesn't work out, my only choice will be an online group.
| Marsha Sisolak
(3/18/02 2:24:54 pm)
| Re: online critique
It could be construed as publication -- depending upon the market.
Some markets, like Fantasy and Science Fiction have said
that they deem workshopping a piece a plus. Other editors, like
MZB, have said quite clearly that they considered a short story
to be published if it's on the web. The last thing I'd heard from
the workshop admins at Del Rey is that they knew of two markets,
(I think) that reject workshopped pieces.
On the other hand, there seem to be far many more who accept the workshopped
pieces. The issue becomes iffier with short stories than with chapters
posted from novels.
Now having said that, most of the online workshoppers I know will post
early versions of a short story, but not the final version. The novelists
will post many chapters, but withhold the ending segment. I personally
don't know of anyone in the Del Rey online writing workshop who has been
rejected because it's been on the workshop. (Many other reasons -- yes.)
And yes, this workshop is passworded.
However, as to when to put that information in a query? I don't know.
My guess is that Karin Lowachee (a novel), Keri Arthur (several novels
to a small publisher), and Charlie Finlay (several short stories) didn't
mention their workshopping until after they'd made the sale. Since they're
all in my crit group, I can certainly ask them if my impression is valid.
Mentioning the workshopping in a query or a cover letter won't get you
out of the slush pile, as far as I know. Perhaps Terri or Jane could speak
more to that from their editorial experiences. It seems to me your story
is going to have to speak for itself.
My two cents.
(3/18/02 3:40:12 pm)
| SurLaLune Fairy Tale
and Folklore Writers' Group...
I'd also like to recommend the above that Heidi has so graciously made
available to us. It had some fits and starts last year, but has recently
started up again. There are several wonderful stories and poems members
have posted there for critique. And it is password protected.
Soft whispers and sugarplum dreams,
(3/19/02 6:32:24 am)
| Re: Publication
Everything depends upon the nature of the online group. If you are *posting*
your finished story online, such that it is available to any and all who
blunder upon your group's site, that can be considered publication. This
is the result of the proliferation of e-zines, many of which are little
more than vanity e-presses. As more than one publishing wit has pointed
out, with the proliferation of these, "now everybody gets to read
the slush pile."
And some legitimate print markets will not talk to you if your story has
appeared online. Note: appeared. The venue is somewhat irrelevant. This
is very different from an online course or location that requires a password
for entry and is thus limited to a specified member group.
However, I don't see why an online critique group can't simply email their
stories to one another as attached documents for the members to print
out and critique--but then, I'm speaking as a member of a wheezing old
generation that wouldn't sit in front of a computer monitor to read a
short story on pain of death. If I don't print it out, I don't read it.
The local group I belong to swaps their stories via email. And although
we meet physically, I see no difference between our meeting and an online
chat site where you can meet electronically, critique and discuss...and
all without the story having ever appeared online, thereby eliminating
any publication conflict. (Okay, there's one difference--you can't eat
whatever the host or hostess of choice has prepared for the workshop if
(3/19/02 6:47:59 am)
| Re: Publication
I think I like that, at Zoetrope at least, you can get any number of reveiws,
or review more stories than required, if you like. People can choose to
read you, or not, after the initial period, and the writing is in all
genres so I can see how universal the story is, or isn't.
One good thing I've found is that, while the submission guidelines that
I've read all consider *any* posting as published on-line, if they mention
it, some *do* encourage workshopping.
The editors of "no reprints, even from your website" magazines
that I've queried have been willing to take a look at my stories/poems
anyway; I think that they appreciate the courtesy of asking beforehand
if the piece being submitted has been posted anywhere.