To my novel-writing classes,
Next week, you’ll meet with your small group and talk about 25-50 pages of your WIP (work-in-progress), the novels you’ve been working on this term. This is the moment when a lot of novels fizzle out, but it’s also the moment when a lot of novels get a much-needed vote of confidence.
My book, The Circus in Winter, got that kind of boost back in 1993. I describe that workshop in full here.
Forty-five minutes of productive discussion, and I walked out with pages of scribbled notes, stories crystallizing in my brain, and boom, I was off.
I was lucky.
Typically, students want to prescribe. They want to talk about what’s not working. It’s up to the instructor to create the default setting, to frame the workshop so that big things can be brought to the table and discussed meaningfully.