Comin’ Back For More; or, What I Learned From My Second WorldCon Writer’s Workshop

So, now that it’s more than a month after my second experience with a WorldCon Writer’s Workshop (this time in Reno), I thought I’d share my experiences with everyone. (I first posted about this back in July; rather than repeat all the background information again, here’s a link back to that entry, in case you missed it.)

I first did a writer’s workshop in Montreal, two years ago. I thought then that I was prepared for this kind of workshop, but having not experienced it before, I really wasn’t. It was still a valuable experience, especially since it got me in with the ongoing on-line Anticipation Writer’s Workshop, and I really did get some good and useful feedback (I mean, one of the professional writers for my group was Nancy Kress–how can a person go wrong there?). But it was still an emotional experience for me. (Okay, let’s be honest: I went back to my hotel room and cried because my story, which I’d thought was perfect, had so much wrong with it!)

This time around, though, I thought I was better prepared. I had a story snippet which I’d read about the first third of to a few friends (and Beloved Husband), and had gotten good feedback (especially from one friend who says he doesn’t usually enjoy that sort of thing.) But I wasn’t really sure if part of it worked. Well, no better way to find out than to have a truly impartial group of people read it for me and let me know.

So that’s the piece I submitted, and guess what? I was right! Both about being better prepared, and about the part of my story that didn’t work. But as before, both the professional authors and the other workshop participants gave me some great ideas about how to fix the parts that aren’t working. And moreover, the parts that are working, worked really well. One of the pros said that until she reached the broken part, her advice was going to be to send it out now. Feedback was universal that the characters were good, appealing, and well-drawn. I left the workshop feeling really excited about the story and how to fix it.

But more than that, I feel (hope) that because I now have more critiquing experience under my belt, I was able to give better, more targeted, and more substantive feedback to the other workshop participants in my group. That made me feel good, too, because the two stories that I got to read both had things to recommend them as well as things that could benefit from some tweaking.

Aside from the workshop itself, I also got to meet and spend time with some of the folks from the on-line Anticipation group (hereinafter known as the Anticipeeps). I knew I had gotten in with a good group of people, and getting to hang with them only confirmed it. It was like meeting up with old friends, with whom one is instantly comfortable. It was an unusual WorldCon experience for me, because oftentimes, while we have other friends and acquaintances around, we don’t spend a lot of time with any one group of people. It’s usually just Beloved Husband and me. So it was nice to have a little “pod” of people to sit with at the Hugos, to go out and eat sushi with, and to hang around in hotel rooms with until the not-so-wee-small-hours of the morning.

So all-in-all, I’d have to say that this year’s WorldCon was a success as far as workshop participation went for me. I can’t wait until next year, in Chicago!

Has anyone else had recent experience with feedback on their work? Was it a good experience for you?

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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