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Writing workshops

Writing workshops

Paris offers many opportunities for writing workshops of all kinds. Here you’ll find both generative and feedback workshops, each with their own style and arrangement. Some are weekly, some are monthly, others yearly. All are very moderately priced. Some are drop-in, some are by reservation only. Take a minute to browse through the list and find the workshop that best suits your needs. All workshops listed here, however, abide by PLU’s Workshop Guidelines below.

For full listings, see the Community Events Calendar

WORKSHOP GUIDELINES

Validation is important, go and get some. But once you’ve gotten it, it’s time for criticism. Real criticism is much harder to find, and it’s much more important when it comes to improving your book.

A good outside reader is someone who holds you to a higher standard, someone who wants more from you than you might really be capable of, who sees the book on your terms, but raises the bar for you by showing you what might be possible in your revisions.

– Ben Marcus

Workshop Code of Ethics

The secret to a productive workshop experience is the knowledge that we gain the most benefit not from the critiques we receive on our own writing but from the concentrated energy we spend on the pages of others. This work makes us better writers. The more love and attention we put into the workshop, the more we get back.

We read each work of writing on its own terms. We read carefully; we appreciate subtlety and originality. We do not judge: judgment is not the group’s function. We don’t dismiss a story because of its subject matter or voice or style; we attempt instead to understand it. We consider a story’s intentions then analyze it to suggest how and where and why its author’s choices have helped it accomplish its intentions. We honor individuality and experimentation, because voice and other wonderfully strange approaches are all at the heart of fresh, lively writing.

Expectations of Participants

This workshop is open to the public. Anyone is welcome to come in and sit down and listen, and even pull up the stories we’re discussing on their mobile devices in order to participate spontaneously.

Writers whose work is being workshopped, as well as those who intend to have theirs workshopped in the future, are considered “regular participants,” and are expected to come prepared, having carefully read all the pieces and prepared written comments for the author. Many of us choose to print the stories, but you’re welcome to offer your notes via email if the author is willing. A sentence or two of feedback is generally sufficient, but everyone will appreciate as much as you’re willing to give. Margin notes are also welcome.

Each month, we read and discuss up to ten pieces of short prose. Participants submit their work in advance, via Google Docs. Submissions are taken on a first come, first served basis.

Our Workshop Style

In our workshop conversations, we strive for a tone that is generous and helpful and kind. We are engaging in a dialogue with inquisitive and curious peers. Our feedback is both gentle and rigorous. We avoid making statements like “you must” and “you should.” Such judgments lack humility, narrow literary possibility, hamper experimentation, and tend to shut down, rather than open up, the conversation. We express ourselves in terms more like this: “for me, the effect of X in your story is Y.” This approach reminds us we not the authority on the work in question and compels us to articulate our points more precisely. Articulating what works is often more difficult than articulating what doesn’t; in our experience, hypercritical workshop types not only lack generosity of spirit but are secretly just bullies too lazy to do the hard work of appreciation. Our style is to offer concise, thoughtful and smart ideas to help one another produce literature that transcends.

 

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