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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Writing Quote: Writing Workshops Are Not Suited For Novels in Progress

Writing workshops are best suited for the discussion and dissection of short stories, not novels. While some noble teachers attempt novel-writing workshops, the workshops could be harmful if not handled correctly. Novels are fragile things, and many fledgling novels have been nipped in the bud by a writing workshop. If you turn in the first thirty pages of your novel before you've written the next three hundred, your peers will inevitably treat it like a short story. What might seem like a fault in a short story (uncertainty about the direction of the story, lack of closure, unexplained happenings) can hardly be avoided in the beginning of a novel. Maybe your peers can praise the quality of your writing, but they can't give you direction. You're the one with the overall conception of the novel. Your classmates are clueless. A novel cannot be written by committee--so don't attempt it. The other pitfall of this approach is "first-chapter-itis," rewriting your first chapter over and over again to your classmates' delight but your own frustration. What you'll wind up with is a perfect first chapter with closure, direction, and explained happenings--in other words, a short story.

Robin Hemley, Turning Life Into Fiction, 2006

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