Structure

This is is your class, and, as such, the content is somewhat plastic, molded by your writerly needs and wants. PLUS I'm pretty weird. And I do what I can to preserve a note (more than a note) of surprise and unpredictability. We'll meet lots of authors (and what can only be described as "circus folk"), we'll go on field trips, we'll play music, we'll eat food, sometimes we'll dance  That said, there are a few regular components you can count on.

WORKSHOP:

“Vocal publishing” of student work followed by roundtable discussions. Each student will 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 another student). 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 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.

I strongly recommend that students also share and discuss writing via e-mail and extracurricular rendezvous. Ideally this class should provide students with a valuable confederacy of readers/writers, like-minded artists struggling with similar challenges, celebrating similar triumphs.

PROMPTS:

In class writing exercise/prompt, followed by the voluntary sharing of several results (unrevised in-class writing is to be shared without peer comment).

VISITS:

A digital visit/in-person appearance by a working author, agent, or other industry professional (visits will be confirmed the week prior; relevant excerpts, essays, and online links will be assigned the week before in preparation for the visit).

BLOG RESPONSE:

An assortment of relevant material (written, audial, video) will be linked weekly. Students are to post thoughtful (but informal) comments (min 250 words) in a timely fashion. An in-class discussion of posted material will often follow.

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