Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Perfect Workshop

By Monet Jones

Many thousands of years ago, or so it seems, I graduated from Hannah High School. My graduating class consisted of twenty-one persons, fourteen girls, and seven boys. The curriculum in that small rural school was naturally limited. Two non-academic courses were considered mandatory; all girls were to take FHA, Future Homemakers of America, and all boys, FFA, Future Farmers of America.

The FFA proved to be an extraordinarily boring class except for three areas, each of which included a contest: electricity, public speaking, and cattle judging. That third area, cattle judging, has had a greater than expected impact on my life because of one learned principle. In order to judge or compare cattle or anything else, one must first determine a perfect example of that which is to be judged.

As one might suppose on reading the title of this article, I set out to describe the perfect writer’s workshop. I started by looking for a definition. Since I didn’t find a good one in my research, I made up my own and present it that my readers, both of you, might critique it.

An environment or gathering of respectful peers wherein one might use words to depict original concepts or events, and receive constructive nonjudgmental criticism of said depictions.
For a participant to receive maximum benefit from a workshop, I believe one must be familiar, but not necessarily friends, with other members. My reasoning here is that in order for comments to be constructive, an evaluated writer must expect criticism from respected peers. If a writer chooses to use familiarity or intimidation to prevent criticism, the concept of a workshop is perverted.

I recently presented some material that connected two big scenes on my current novel. I had not spent as much time on it as I should have. The workshop members made that point very clear.

R - too many long sentences and holes in plot
B - too many repetitions of same idea, POV errors
G2 - “that” not a good connector and two improbable scenes
K – ignorant of how young girls might react to a situation
L - didn’t like me, my work, or the horse I rode in on
D - helpful in showing proper paragraph separation and comma use
G - mixed in a positive comment with several faults
I think Columbia II workshop approaches perfection. I love the camaraderie as we get together but have no doubt the friendliest person there will savage my material if it’s not properly written. That is as it should be.


Ginny said...

Good one, Monet. It's fun to see ourselves in p[rint.

Ginny said...


Shudda previewed.

DIDi said...

Thanks for the chuckles...enjoyed your post!