Friday, May 10, 2013

Why Workshopping is Bad (Post 1 of 999)

Imagine a classic workshop scenario.

Jane writes a story and submits it to the group.

Everyone know it's Jane's story. 

Frank once slept with Jane. 

David feels sorry for Jane because she has a limp, once got molested by an albino Albanian, and cries easily.

Mary OTOH hates Jane because Jane trashed her story about the talking kitten.

How the holy F-ck do we get people to look JUST at the text?

Nevertheless we pretend we are critiquing the work, not Jane. 

Crits arrive. Jane instantly dismisses ANYTHING Mary says (bitch!) and takes little notice of anything Frank says because she KNOWS he's REALLY saying the sex sucked, and it was his fault anyway the miserable little-dicked florist.

and so on.

But, ten crits duly arrive and everyone rambles on. 

Three people don't even mention the opening. 

Seven don't talk about theme. 

One goes on and on about his mother while fixing typos. 

There is no way to compare and contrast opinions because they are random, woffly, shot-gun.

But, nevertheless, Jane has ten opinions each pulling or pushing in a diffeent direction. 

If she fixes the lollipop scene the way Frank says, that changes her theme 

(Frank never discussed theme)

If she drops the opener as Diane says that may fix what Pete was going on about -  but now the lollipop scene just HAS to stay word-unchanged, 

except Briana has pointed out that the lollipop scene has been outed by the CIA as a...

It is a fucking mess.

Whatever Jane does, SHE is no longer writing the story. 

It's a story written by a committee. 

The voice becomes 60% Jane's and 40% a rabble of conflicting voices. 

The underlying structure, the REASONS behind the original story are often undermined.

Now, continue. Jane rewrites. 

Wherever she has followed the advice of others (Bitch! Lover, creepy nerd) the critiquer now LOVES that bit. 

Jane suddenly realises that doing the bidding of others makes her more liked. 

She isn't WRITING any more. She's fulfilling the ideas of others to feel more loved.

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