My Writing Workshop was a success.
Two hours, the first one with me power-driving through the strategic and tactical slides. Then an hour of presenting some of the participant’s work and walking through edits I’d made.
No one wanted to go home despite the late hour. Writers, sheesh. They don’t know when to quit.
I solicited some feedback and here was a comprehensive reply:
“Honestly, was very interesting and easy for me to follow. I left the meeting feeling a little burned out because I felt like I learned quite a few really very useful and interesting things. Your expertise on the subject matter was apparent. To me one of the most important aspects was you listed a number of meaningful calls to action to improve our work.
I left the meeting feeling encouraged by the fact that if I work at it, I will continue to improve. providing the calls to action is a really important part of that. It will be important to maintain the progression I think. I wouldn’t have guessed that it was your first time leading a instruction and critique session.
Perhaps something that could add value is to find specific examples of some of the areas of improvement within the our work and talk through some of the edits that you suggest. Of course that would be easier if people didn’t submit 20 minutes before the session started haha.
Overall, very educational, and encouraging. Will look forward to participating in the future.”
Although I didn’t record it (sorry Goldie, George) I’m pretty sure it happened.
“I thought the workshop was excellent. I appreciated that you tackled the basics. I like the idea of moving on to higher level information, but i think it would be great to do more of a deep dive on some of the basics like dialogue and scenes before we move into strategy. It was nice that you gave feedback to everyone. Maybe next time we could also do a deep dive on one person’s work and have a discussion about it? This might help people to start thinking critically. “
Initially, my nervousness showed. But after I moved through the Takeaways slide, I got into explaining my ideas on each of the big pieces. I noticed that, rather that read the slides, I ignored them, and spoke around the material, providing a parallel take on the bullet points I’d provided. I personally hate when speakers just read the frickin’ slides. (The folks get to access the presentation at their leisure.)
I did use the material I’d created for the basic skills—the tactical. Reading a sentence and assessing why it either works or doesn’t (given all the factors that make up a good sentence: dialog-tags, active/passive, show-v-tell, adverbs, story essential) helps drive home what ‘writing well’ truly means. To me, internalizing these sentence tactics is both the hardest yet critical aspect to good writing. You can have the most fantastical plot, the strongest characters, and the greatest setting, but without having mastered the basics, your story will suck.