Workshop Guidelines and Etiquette

Some of this class will be dedicated to “workshopping” stories. A workshop is essentially a discussion on a piece of writing turned in by a student. We will discuss what elements of the story, as well as areas for improvement. This allows authors to get an idea of how their readership might respond to a story, and gives them ideas for improvement, and provides the readers with new ideas and perspectives as well. A workshop is not purely for the benefit of the author who has submitted. It is quite possible that you will have some breakthroughs of your own during someone else’s workshop.


This is a very subjective activity, and while all comments and criticisms should be carefully considered, the author is under no obligation to adopt them.

Comments and criticisms, both written and during discussion, should always be constructive and courteous. Workshops will always involve a measure of both praise and criticism, but the praise should always be merited, and the criticism should never be malicious. Be honest and respectful. Authors are emotionally invested in their work, but also deserve to be told the truth.

Authors may not speak during the workshop. An author’s readership doesn’t usually get a justification or clarification on a confusing, questionable, or unclear points, and the same will apply in the workshop. There will be a brief period at the end of the workshop, however, for the author to ask questions or make a statement.

You will be assigned a workshop group at the beginning of each half of the course. See the course schedule below to determine when your group will be up for workshop.


Be constructive

Start with praise before moving on to criticism.

Try to talk about the quality of writing, not the ability of the writer.

Do not be malicious, rude, or sarcastic. It will negatively affect how people see you, the quality of this workshop, and your grade.

Be specific and succinct about criticisms—try to specify why and where it goes wrong, and how it might be improved.

Avoid empty, abstract praise, too. Say what you liked and why