Responding to Writing in Workshop
All writing is treated as fiction.
To ‘listen’ another’s soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another.
– Douglas Steere
No criticism, suggestion, or questions are directed toward the writer in response to first-draft writing.
Do not respond by recalling a memory or story. If the memory is a strong one, then write the story and share it with workshop writers.
Do not address the writer as you, as if the voice of the speaker, the storyteller, the narrator of the writing is the same person as the one workshop reader/writer; instead, say the narrator or name the characters. This is our practice even when the writing is written in the first person, I, even when the writer tells us it is true or autobiographical.
Do not refer to a character as a real person rather than an imagined character, for example, a family member, such as the character my mother, is not the writer’s mother, ie. your mother. She is the mother character.
Do not recall all your thoughts and feelings. Limit your response to one or two aspects of the writing that stood out for you. Leave room for others to comment.
Suggestions for responding:
What is strong
What is powerful
What is brave
What stays with me
What moves me
What surprises me
Point to specific elements by repeating:
Respond as reader, not a critic: