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These are the rules I laid out at the beginning of my fiction workshop this fall. Maybe they will be useful for other writing faculty and students.  

WRI520 WORKSHOP & MANUSCRIPT TIPS

TO MY STUDENTS...READ THIS. IT IS IMPORTANT.

  1. First of all, if you are submitting work to be workshopped, do not submit it late. Not only is this a sign of disrespect to your colleagues—who need time to actually read and consider your work--it's also a sign you're not taking yourself seriously as a writer.

  1. Write like crazy. Even if you're not getting workshopped for a couple weeks ahead, WRITE. Like a madman. Write as if you've got one week left to live. Create an urgent microcosm of story that begs to be read and shared with others.

  1. A creative writing workshop is a community of mutual responsibility, trust, and literary citizenship. It is the creation of ALL its participants. Produce ambitious, interesting, clean manuscripts. In your critical duties, regard each manuscript seriously by reading it (and then re-reading it) and writing thoughtfully about each story or vignette.

  1. This isn't Iowa. This isn't your therapist's office. This isn't a place for revenge “fiction.” Trigger warnings also won't happen here. This isn't a place to tear down fellow students who may have pissed you off in a previous semester. This isn't a place to brag about your big-time publications. This is a place to be brave, create, and make good art. Make us give a damn. Everyone is on equal ground and everyone serves the story. Behave accordingly.

  1. Clean manuscripts are next to Godly manuscripts. Keep your manuscripts double-spaced (I'm going to repeat that: DOUBLE SPACED), in a reasonable (11 or 12 point) font such as Times New Roman. The first page of the manuscript MUST have, in the upper right corner, your name, your workshop team (see below), and the date of your scheduled critique. The title should be centered at the top of the first page. Page numbers must appear in the bottom right corner. Example: “Catherine Campbell, Team B, September 14”

  1. Be prepared to make copies. Use a campus printer, Kinko's, or a home printer to print out the proper number of manuscript copies for your fellow students and for me. (We have 9 students + 1 instructor, so 10 copies are required each time you are about to be workshopped.) I know this can be a financial or tech hassle, but this is grad school and typical of every MFA and MA workshop experience. Please be prepared for this small cost of $, time and energy stapling or paper-clipping manuscripts. Organization will be much appreciated by everyone involved.

  1. Spellcheck. Proofread. Read your work aloud to help stumble over any clumsy sentences or grammar mistakes. Have a friend read it to you. If you use TrackChanges, make sure they're turned “off” before you print or distribute to the class. I've seen some interesting “Note to self” comments that would make a student blush.

  1. In case you missed it...make good art. Write like crazy. Respect one another. Shut up and listen. Take notes. Read voraciously. Commend each other on good plots, characters, turns of phrase, sentences, word choices. Hold yourself to a higher standard and you will succeed in this course.

 

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