jeffsoesbe (jeffsoesbe) wrote,

Potlatch 2007 Report, Part 2 (Workshop, Plus)

My Writing Workshop session was one other novice (Ulrika O'Brien) and two pros, Jay Lake (, L. Timmel Duchamp (, and me. I was having the story "This Moment, and the Times Before" critiqued.

Once I'd finally arrived at the Writing Workshop the pros had already critiqued Ulrika's story so I sat down, gathered myself after my crazy morning, and went into my critique of her story.

After that, it was my turn. Ulrika went first, then Jay, then Timmy (as L Timmel Duchamp preferred to be called). All three made some excellent points about the story, especially with respect to my use of first person present tense (which didn't work for anyone). They also gave some good input about making sure the secondary characters were real, some issues with the technology of the story, and some input into the plot and setting.

Jay mentioned that my story at first felt like the SF classic "Light of Other Days" by Bob Shaw, but went in a different direction. I didn't remember the story until he mentioned the concept of "slow glass" and then it clicked that I had actually read the story a few weeks before (in the excellent book "Science Fiction 101" by Robert Silverberg).

I got a lot out of the session and at the end we had a great discussion about some themes and issues in the story (like use of different tenses), and about the role and responsibility of a writer with respect to using what he/she sees and observes and experiences when telling a story. The folks were positive about the story and that, as always, felt very good! Jay even suggested sending it to Eric Bain at Bain's Universe and saying "Tell him I told you to send it" (!)

After the workshop I had a critique from Mary Rosenblum, who was coordinating the workshops. When the workshop writers were first listed, I looked them all up and read some of their work and I realized that I was doing work very similar to Mary's in style and sensibilities. I asked her if she'd consent to a critique and she very kindly agreed.

She was also very positive about the story, had some specific points that she would like to see improved, but said that once I revise I should send it to Sheila Williams at Asimov's and I'd have a decent chance of selling it (!)

Overall, it was a great experience with the critiques. It fulfilled my expectations and even surpassed them. I feel like I learned a lot from the sessions and that my work might even have taken a step up. I'll have to see how much I can keep working away at getting better but I think Potlatch was a tremendous help and well worth the trip!
Tags: potlatch, scifi, specfic, writing

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