Today was my first Fiction Workshop, which was two hours of discussion about three people’s stories.
Birmingham Writers’ Group do Anonymous Manuscripts sessions, when unnamed manuscripts are circulated in advance of a meeting, and the pieces are discussed without knowing who wrote it. A lot of submitters would write a small paragraph at the beginning, stating what type of work it was (short story, novel chapter, etc) and asking any specific questions they might have, such as whether the narrative voice was strong enough, if BWG members could recommend any submission locations, or even how a story should end. I thought this was a useful addition to the process, but this course has a different approach.
The writer isn’t allowed to ask any specific questions about what they want the readers to look for when they’re reading. While the piece is being discussed, the writer is not to talk or defend their work. As I said in my last post, they want the reader to ‘go in cold’.
To me, this makes complete sense now. The tutor said that in the future of that piece, you will never be able to say to a reader or editor “no, but you see, you don’t get it – that bit means….” etc. I.e. a piece of writing needs to stand alone for the reader as well as the writer. What do you think to that?