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Posts Tagged ‘Beth Nguyen’

 

Beth Nguyen’s thoughtful article on writing workshops appeared at Literary Hub this week. She describes how her approach to critique changed when she began teaching nonfiction, work in which the integration of context and author with the text is more obvious than is sometimes the case with other genres.

Especially interesting to me was the way this reshaped feedback (emphasis mine):

The workshoppers, in turn, are asked to do less prescribing (I want to see more of this; I want this or that to happen; I didn’t want that character to be here) and more questioning. Why did you use first-person? How important is the sister character supposed to be? Instead of a typical old-school workshop comment such as “I want to see more about the mother,” there’s a question: “We don’t see much about the mother—how important of a character is she?” The former is a demand; the latter is an opening.

Even in settings where time or other constraints make full-blown conversation among participants impractical, feedback phrased this way invites reflection rather than defense. We best serve one another when our comments encourage thinking about the art and process of writing, from choices and techniques to audience and intention.

Implementing this in our own critique practices will require some adjustments, for both respondents and authors. But it seems like work worth doing if it allows each writer “to leave feeling heard and feeling motivated to keep working and revising, with ideas (rather than demands) in hand.”

“Unsilencing the Writing Workshop,” by Beth Nguyen
https://lithub.com/unsilencing-the-writing-workshop/

 

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