As some of you know, I’m writing this story for a class, ENG 344: Publishing.
In this class, there are set days when your story is workshopped by the class to help iron out details, see what works, and realize what doesn’t work.
Last Friday, I got workshopped, and I got workshopped hard.
A typical workshop consists of the same formula. You cannot speak, and therefore cannot defend yourself from the oncoming onslaught of opinions and comments. In fact, a majority of the class will talk about your story as if you aren’t even there. You are left to furiously scribble notes down and hide behind what the wall built out of what little remains of your pride.
It’s an intense experience. It’s a humbling experience. And It’s one-hundred percent needed for the writing process. Some things you think you’ve got down perfect, but don’t actually work. Other things you thought you failed on, but actually accomplished.
Sometimes, there will be a mix of people who just hate your guts. Well… not really, but that little wall of pride will sometimes make it seem so.
A lot of what I tried and experimented with worked, to my surprise. Some people got it right away, and loved the story, aside from a few flaws that needed ironing out.
Others seemed frustrated with either the dark tone or the ambiguity of the ‘fiction’ portion of the story. They wanted more emotion, as well as a more defined plot.
They also wanted a happier ending.
It gave me a lot to think about. A happier ending? I’m not sure. There’s something to be said when not everyone survives. As for a more defined plot, yeah. They got me there. Some people caught on to what was happening, but the majority of the class didn’t seem convinced. That’s my fault, and mine alone. What sometimes works in my head doesn’t work for other people, and you have to put it in a more understandable form.
My story is technically a page too long, and there is at least one scene (as well as possibly the climax to the ending) that I will need to completely redo. A five page story is very hard to work with. It always wants an extra page or two to stretch the plot and characters. It just comes down to what you must cut off. I’ve learned in the past that it’s usually the things you love the most that you have to destroy to make the story work.
That’s the next step for me.
I got workshopped hard, and now I need to respect that and make changes accordingly, whether I like what they said or not.
It’s my story, but they represent my audience, and a healthy relationship needs to be kept with them. Don’t get me wrong, there are things I will inevitably ignore, or change so that it is more clear to my audience, but a workshop gives you valuable information that you would be foolish to ignore.
Get workshopped. Kill your pride. Then, keep writing. This is how great stories are made.