The Writers Block has been enjoying a resurgence of old-school workshops that bring to mind our early days as the Fiction Workshop at MSP. Our members meet in voice chat, share writing samples in text chat, and work with each other in real time on prompt-based exercises designed to sharpen skills. We have writers of all skill levels participating, taking pointers from each other, and making noticeable improvements with each session. It’s a fantastic way to focus on the craft of writing and spend time with people we enjoy.
The workshops usually last about an hour. On Saturdays and Tuesdays, the Writers Workout group meets around 8 p.m. EST. Other times can be added if enough people show interest. We also have an Editing 101 class that has not established a regular time yet. This workshop is designed to build confidence and skill when evaluating the work of others.
The prompts we offer for the Writers Workout sessions are based on certain mechanics or craftsmanship elements of fiction. For example, we spent a couple weeks on POV (Point of View.) First, we discussed the different types of POV, which include omniscient, third person limited, deep POV, and first person. Many writers struggle to maintain a consistent POV and the result is often disorienting and jarring for readers. Here is one example of a POV writing prompt we offered:
PROMPT: 3rd Person Limited w/Deep POV, present or past tense. 100-ish words. Two characters in the scene with dialogue. One character tells the other character some kind of devastating news.
For the following session, we issued this prompt:
PROMPT: Using the scene you wrote for our last prompt, convert POV to the other character.
This got really interesting, because one of our participants had written a scene involving a human and an AI. She ended up doing a fantastic job of converting the scene to the AI’s point of view. Another participant discovered that her scene actually worked better in the second POV than her original version. Overall, the POV workouts were a smashing success.
The workouts have become so popular that @Jayna suggested we do something similar to Words With Friends. So, in addition to our bi-weekly meetups in voice, we take turns dropping writing samples in the channel with a time frame for others to come along and comment. This is working well, too. It offers a chance for others to lurk and see how we evaluate each piece, and for people who don’t make the voice workshops to take part. The Writers Workout channel has become a busy place!
For anyone who might be interested, here is our Workout Prompt for Saturday, 8/11 at 8 pm EST:
PROMPT: 100-ish words of a phone /device conversation in third person limited. There must be some sort of conflict or emotional engagement.
In the Editing 101 classes, we all evaluate a single passage that was pre-selected. So far, we’ve turned a critical eye on writing by Stephen King, John Grisham, and William Hoffman. We approach these passages from the perspective of a contemporary commercial fiction editor and bleed red ink all over them. It’s a fun experiment and a real eye-opener for many of the people who participate.
This week, TWB hopes to announce a new regular contest. In the spirit of @Jayna’s 50-Word Challenge, we’re going to launch a 100-Word Challenge to see just what kind of fierce competition we can inspire! Our Writers Workout participants will help evaluate each submission, along with a crew of seasoned editors from the Block. We’ll make a post soon with more details!
Also, the 13th Art Prompt Writing Contest is well underway. We’ve had an early glimpse at some of the entries, and this is ramping up to be a good one!
Lastly, our First Chapter contest is still open for submissions. We’re approximately halfway to the deadline, so get those chapters ready!
If you haven’t already joined us in the Writers Block, and you want to polish your skills and work with seasoned authors and editors to take your writing to the next level, by all means click the animated gif below and drop in for a visit! If you’re nervous about taking that step, check out a recent post by @snook about her recent experience in our workshops. While you’re clicking, also check out this post by @shadowspub. Shadows is new to writing fiction and is using vignettes like this one to find her voice. We think she’s brilliant. 😊