Last night we workshopped drafts. I’m used to fairly robust criticism, harsh verging on heartless. I can take it from those I trust to tell me something’s good, bad or most horrifyingly ‘distinctly average’. However in this new group I felt incredibly nervous.
I used to only cover grammar and repetition when I fed back but in the last year I’ve got braver about critiquing character and even plot. I used to be more organic in approach but now I blast out my points as soon as I can, partly to get a dialogue going, partly out of nerves. I used to never ever make suggestions for additions but since our Screen Play module I will.
So the MA has made me a better critter. And it was a fascinating batch of imagination to workshop. I really enjoyed the array of genres; dancing non-fiction, pre-dystopian adaptation, a rabbit that recited Shakespeare, Freudian literary fiction, full-on in-your-eye sci-fi and medieval dysentery.
Writing is exposing at the best of times and possibly because we didn’t all know each other we were professional and respectful. Feedback was encouraging, constructive and incisive. It was really useful mixing with the Writing for Children group, whose work and feedback was sharp, muscular and meaningful.
At the start of the session Julian Stannard, one of our tutors, anecdoted that someone once pulled a knife out in a workshop. It’s understandable to feel vulnerable when sharing but there were no knives in our group; we used our critical scalpels with hippocratic care.
by Kath Whiting, MA Creative & Critical Writing