(the world’s friendliest peer review workshop)
Wednesday evenings | Jan. 16th-March 6th 2019 | 7pm-9.30pm | 8 weeks | $390 + HST
@ The Green Beanery, 565 Bloor Street West (at Bathurst)
“Finish.” This is one of Neil Gaiman’s good practices for writers, and like most of what Gaiman says, it’s pretty good. Finishing a piece doesn’t mean it’s going to be perfect, or that it wins an award, or that it’s guaranteed to be published. But every time you take an idea or a rough piece of writing and polish it into a completed poem, scene or story, you advance your craft. You can add a checkmark to your writing career. The Finishers is a workshop to help you gain these checkmarks in a safe, supportive environment.
Please note: Unlike Writers’ Boot Camp, this workshop requires work outside our time together. You will likely need at least 1-2 hours per week to review the work of others, and additional time to prepare your own submissions. Please keep the time requirements in mind before registering.
This workshop is limited to seven writers 17+. No previous experience required.
The Finishers connects two distinct elements: in-group writing, and manuscript review.
In-group writing: Each week, workshop members will take part in 1-3 prompt-based writing exercises. These exercises are an opportunity to experiment and explore new ideas without expectation or judgement. In-group writing is shared for feedback, but is treated as rough work not yet ready for questions or criticism. Feedback on these pieces is limited to what we remember, or what stays with us.
Manuscript review: In the AWA method, a manuscript is a piece of writing that has evolved beyond the rough stage. It is typed, revised, spell checked and sometimes fact checked. As manuscripts are more polished than rough work they can support balanced feedback, including questions for the author, and comments about where we as readers get lost. Specific suggestions for improvement are generally discouraged (see quote below).
Through balanced feedback and the accountability of having to share your work with others, each participant will be able to evolve and “finish” one or more pieces during the workshop.
Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. – Neil Gaiman, again.
Q & A
Do I have to show up with a finished piece, or just ideas in my head? Just the ideas in your head. The first week of the workshop focuses only on in-group writing. This gives us a chance to get to know each other a bit, and go over the workshop structure. You should not bring anything to share in the first week, even if you are already working on something.
What happens after the first week? Workshop members will be divided into two teams. Team “A” will have the opportunity to bring in manuscripts on weeks 2, 4, and 6 of the workshop. Team “B” members will bring in manuscripts on weeks 3, 5, and 7.
Is there a minimum length for manuscripts? Nope. One poem or a one-page story segment is perfectly acceptable.
How long can a manuscript be? For the purposes of this workshop, each manuscript submission can be up to 5 poems, or up to 8 pages of prose, double spaced. This may vary based on the workshop size.
How many manuscripts can I share? Writers will have up to 3 opportunities to share manuscripts. If you don’t bring one in, you don’t get in trouble. You simply cut down the number of sharing opportunities in that session.
Can I share pieces created outside the workshop? Sure! In fact, it might be easiest, although not required, that you use an existing piece of something in progress as your first manuscript. My intention however is that at least one manuscript submitted has its origins in our in-group writing sessions.
Can I share different versions of the same piece? Sure! If you prefer to focus on one story or one series of poems, you’re welcome to share updated versions of your work as we advance. This is one of those “no right / no wrong” answer scenarios.
I’d like to take part but I’m terrified everyone will be better than me. This is a common concern for writers of all levels. If you’re 17+ and are interested in joining, you’ll do fine.
What kind of feedback will I give/get? As the “world’s friendliest peer review workshop,” I ask writers to focus on balanced feedback. That means we’ll give equal time in discussion about things we liked, and places we got lost.
I’m not sure I’ll have time to review manuscripts each week. Then it’s probably best you don’t sign up for this workshop right now. You won’t get everything you can from the group, and you’ll be depriving other writers of the feedback they deserve too.
Can I take part digitally? Not at this time. I’m a big believer in the energy & benefits of writing with others, and at this point that’s where the workshop is focused.
I have more questions! Super. Let me know and I’ll update this page as needed.