STRUCTURE: This is your class, and, as such, the content is somewhat plastic, molded by your writerly needs and wants. That said, the structure of each session is fairly firm and class time will generally be divided into the following four parts:
“Vocal publishing” of student work followed by “roundtable” discussions. Each student should have at least two opportunities to workshop. Students can choose work written in response to the in class prompts, or pieces composed outside of class.
Students are not permitted to read their own work (rather their work is to be read aloud by a mix of other students). The writer then becomes a critical part of the evaluating audience for his own piece, commonly noticing the same literary stumbles (and moments of grace) as his peers.
“Target writers” must provide the class with individual copies of a writing sample (3 -5 pgs) at the beginning of their scheduled workshop. Excerpts should be double spaced pages (12-pt, Times New Roman) and printed on plain white paper. Page headers should include title, author, date, and page number. If you have questions about your work that you would like the class to address, please note those questions at the end of the piece.
As work is declaimed, evaluators should note strengths and missteps on the hard copy. Evaluating students will then have five minutes to review the piece and sharpen their critiques; which will then be used as springboards for subsequent discussion. Following the discussion, hard copies will be returned to the target writer for consideration.
Note: Thoughtful evaluations of peer excerpts teach writers to be critical readers of their own work. Do not assess peer work in the context of emotion or absolutes, “love” and “hate,” “good” and “bad,” instead address what is successful (and why) and what you think could be improved (and how). You don’t owe the writer praise, but you do owe them attention and thoughtful written/verbal comment. Be critical but kind. Be hard on the writing not the writer.
In-class writing exercise followed by group sharing (with several "elected" writers sharing with the class proper). Some exercises will take students outside the classroom.
DISCUSSION: In class discussion of blog posts or of a certain aspect of writing the instructor (that is to say, ME!) has chosen to highlight.
Digital or in-person visits/Q&As with working authors or other industry professionals (visits will be confirmed one week prior, relevant excerpts and/or essays by/or concerning the guest will be recommended the week before in preparation for the visit). Students are to prepare at least one question for each guest. There will likely be six digital visits (or in- class appearances) over the course of the semester.