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  Workshops: To Join or Not to Join
by Tina Morgan



So you have decided you would like to write a novel or a short story? Or you have a finished story and want to get an unbiased opinion. If you do any research, online or in how-to books, one of the first things you will hear is 'join a workshop'.

Maybe the first thing you should ask yourself is, are you ready to have someone else criticize your 'baby'? Many writers become very attached to their characters and having someone point out flaws in their stories is like a personal attack on a close friend. You have to get over that if you ever want to be published. If you submit a story to a magazine or an agent, you will be edited. If you are not ready to have someone tell you what they think, then you need to stay a closet writer a little longer.

Closet writer? Someone who writes for the fun of it but may never have the courage to allow their story to be read.

If you are ready to venture out of the closet, prepare yourself for rejection. Every writer experiences rejection, sometimes massive amounts. By joining a workshop, you can have your story read and possible flaws pointed out before you risk the rough world of publishing.

Now that you've decided to take that next step you have to decide what kind of workshop you want to join. There are many to chose from, ranging in price from thousands of dollars for a week or month long retreat at a resort or college, to free on the Internet or at a local college or with a local writer's group. The Internet can be an excellent way to start your search for a workshop to fit your needs, but you have to define those needs first.

A face to face workshop gives you the advantage of real time interaction and personally meeting the people reading your story. It also forces you to talk to these people in a way that hiding your disappointment over their criticism can be tough. If you decide you have just ventured out of the closet and are not ready for such intimate contact consider an online workshop.

Not all online workshops are free. Make sure you read the fine print. Ask questions of the workshops moderators/administrators if you are not sure how the workshop runs. Do you have to do a minimum number of critiques to stay active? How soon do you get to submit one of your stories? How many critiques can you expect to receive?

There are a lot of good workshops out there for free. Give one a try and see if it suits your writing needs. I have joined two, one large and one small and they both have distinct advantages. I've also made some good friends through both workshops.

Put on your best rhino hide, jump in the water and most of all, remember to have fun. That's why you started writing in the first place isn't it?



Copyright 2000 Tina Morgan. All rights reserved.



 

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