“High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969,
two professors of English Literature approached each other
at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour.”
Changing Places by David Lodge
So what exactly is Workshop Wednesday? Well, it’s going to be an ongoing discussion of ways to read and critique (and hopefully improve) writing. Basically, I’m going to be drawing on my experiences in writing workshops through undergraduate and graduate studies and sharing them with you all. These posts are for everyone, whether you’re wondering how you can give good feedback to a writer friend, or whether you’re a writer yourself and want to find new ways to look at your writing. Hopefully these discussions will be helpful. And hopefully seeing a compelling first line in each post will inspire you to write your own, or to read the rest of that story!
Hey all! Today’s post is a little different, but I think it’s just as important in critiquing and writing as my past posts. I’d like to ramble on for a bit about fit.
I’ve noted previously that even if your writing friend hands you a manuscript that happens to be the type of story that you despise, you can still offer good criticism. It’s true. Granted, it would probably be difficult for both of you, but it’s certainly not impossible. I think it’s a rather genius method of getting someone to look at elements of craft that might be overlooked by a writer who specializes in the same genre. This is why I think workshops, while sometimes painful, can be awesome.
That said, though, there may be times when you offer a critique that just does not fit. This could happen for any reason. Neither of you should stress over it. You are absolutely entitled to offer what you bring to the table, and the writer is equally entitled to do with that feedback what she will. Please don’t be offended. The simple truth is that the writer must go with her gut, and ultimately, writing is about the choices she makes. Sure, that thing that bugged you may still be present in the story, but that thing makes the writer happy and is in line with her vision. If she will fight for it, it deserves to stay in.
As I’ve said before, never be afraid to say something. Just remember that your writer is in a tough spot and must listen to you as well as her little writing heart.