Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Workshopping is Bad (Post 2 of 999)

The Boot Camp Way

We do not "workshop" (but see later)

We don't care about the story.

I repeat.

We don't care about the story.

Understand this. We are not there to polish a turd. 

We are not there, if the story is close to good, to "prepare it for publication" by shaping it ourselves, each polishing a side until it gleams.

That is the writer's job. 

The writer may not know HOW (separate issue, see later) but it is still HER job, her voice, her theme, her gut-driven story.

It only belongs to her.
It belongs only to her.

Nobody understands her story's genesis, or where the story fits in her long-term plans.

Ideally they don't even know it's hers!!

Let me say again. Your story Frank, even if it goes on to win $10,000 and gets published in The New Yorker, IT DOESN'T MATTER.

The eventual life of the "finished" story is your business.

Your story arriving in the cock-fighting ring is here to be squabbled over.

It's MEAT. It's FODDER. It's substrate.

It's raw material for us to cut our critical teeth on.

Without stories we cannot crit.

Without crits we cannot compare crits.

Without critical comparison and differences of opinion over crits we cannot see what we have spotted and what we have not spotted.

We cannot have that moment when we "see the light" because Paul saw the thematic contradiction we completely overlooked.

We can't point to Paul's error where he thought that the point was...


The critiques do.

A perfect Boot Camp scenario would be we never critiqued the members' work! Instead, the leader of the group would generate stories with deliberately-placed flaws, some easy, some harder, some diabolical to spot.

Of course, we want to keep writing, and we do that while critiquing, so we "might as well" use the work of the group's members, and SURE they may gain insights into their work, but listen to this.

90% of the growth in a Boot Camper comes from doing critiques and arguing over critiques.

10% of the writer's growth comes from RECEIVING critiques.

The best predictors of eventual publishing success in BC were:

Daily Word-Count Average

Number, depth, length and quality of critiqes given.

The amount of "critical engagement" (arguing over crits.)

The amount of craft questions asked.

The level of involvement in craft threads

The amount of subbing.

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