Workshopping I

Ideas from Lee and from Metro (pp. 40-41) 

You can start by saying what you think is happening in the piece (especially useful with dense poetry).  You can interpret the deeper, more ambiguous meanings of the text.  You can notice stylistic choices.  You can critique any of these.  As you read over your peer's poetry or prose, keep in mind some of our initial ideas about creativity.  Where is this piece most surprising in subject-matter?  In form/technique/style?  You can also think of rhetorical concerns: how much is this text making the reader work (Barthe's pleasure vs. bliss)?  

Also keep in mind some of the genre definitions (which often focus on writing elements or craft issues) we have come up with in class.  What is narrative about this narrative?  Think about sentences, the pull of plot, pacing, character, setting, voice, sensory or metaphorical detail, scenes, dialogue.  What is poetic about this poem (or story)?  Think about the poetic line breaks and rhythms, formal structures and their violations (sonnets, sestinas, villanelle, haiku), sound patterns, sensory details and imagery (metaphor and simile), density (fragments, much ambiguity); and of course narrative elements like plot, character, setting, and voiceOverall, where does the author surprise us, or bend or break the genre "rules" or expectations, and is this interesting or confusing (think of Affective Stylistics)? 

Author: take notes and shut up! Avoid defensiveness by only answering questions; don't explain unless invited.  After you receive comments, read over them, then try making a revision plan (see Metro or What If?).  Overall, what were their suggested changes?  Overall, what were the strengths they noticed? The following questions can help you revise, or may be something you ask your readers to help you with.

Reader: read the piece carefully in advance, making honest but rhetorically aware comments in the margins (craft comments are often especially important in a class like this--comment on the specific effects of small elements like those above).  You should also give a synthesis of opinions at the end of the piece (an overview of strengths and weaknesses, an overall feeling you get from the piece, the meaning you think the piece is trying to convey).