Saturday, September 19, 2009

I survived my first fiction workshopping

By Casey Tolfree

So this is a little delayed but I've been busy with work and boyfriend and homework and

Thursday I went through my first official workshop critique as a graduate student. Scary. I believe I came out unscathed.

I submitted the beginning of a novella I wrote called APT 509. It was a hard choice because APT 509 is close to my heart. The end or last two thirds of the story are the strongest. The beginning is the part that needed work so it was the perfect piece to workshop because I didn't know how to make it better. I just knew it was missing something. My classmates really helped me to figure it out. I edited the first nine pages so far since the workshop and I think it's already improving, slimming down in some places, beefing up in others.

It was hard to put that part of the story forward because it's not the best example of how I usually write. It doesn't show the best of my ability, so to present it first was a scary task. But I did it and now I hope that they like part 2 even better because that's the part I consider great lol.

I would love to ask some of them to reread my piece now but I feel like that's overstepping and my friends are just busy. I guess I'll just have to figure it out, keep plucking away at it. We'll see.

In other news, I had to write a 10-minute play where someone takes a journey. So I did a metaphorical journey from naivette to real world where a teen finds her mom cheating on her dad. That's a journey right? Please offer advise otherwise.


  1. Congrats on completing your first graduate workshop! It was brave and smart of you to submit the part of the story that needed the most help.

    I like your journey idea. That's not the first thing that comes to mind when I think journey, so it's definitely not overdone. But what you described is totally a journey and one I'd like to read about.

  2. Well after Tuesday (when I hand it in) I post my plays up on my personal blog so feel free to check it out lol

  3. Our first story in my Forms of Fiction class is a journey story. Interesting how we both have that kind of assignment.

  4. that is definitely a potential journey :)

    i would say the one thing i would caution with the workshops (just having gone through them) is to not workshop the same piece too many times. i had some people in my poetry workshops who workshopped the same poems over and over again, seems like it would take the life out of the work and also wears out your classmates!

  5. Yeah I don't want to re-workshop it. I'm workshopping the next 25 pages though :)

  6. I was wondering the same thing: what do we do with a piece after it's workshopped? Is it okay to ask classmates to re-read it? I know ultimately my friends would agree to help me, but I don't want to overwork anyone. I was curious if anyone else was having the same thought.

  7. I'm trying to get as many new pieces workshopped as possible so I don't want to reworkshop anything. But in the past when I wanted more eyes on the same piece, I emailed revisions to my professor and then we talked about it privately. That's something to consider.

  8. I've also been revising work and haven't shown it to anyone. I was thinking as I get farther into the program if I reread the pieces and feel uncertain of my revision choices I might workshop it again then with a fresh group of people, but I agree with JayTee, for now getting as many new pieces workshopped as possible is my top priority.


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