Author Workshopping Principles

Being workshopped is a luxury for an author. That's right, a luxury. It's not something that happens everyday. When it does happen, be ready for it.

What does being ready for a workshop mean? Some guidelines:
  • A workshop is not a judgement; it is a response to a reading of your work that has the sole purpose of helping you understand how other people hear your script.
  • When your script is being read, don't read along. Listen. Close your eyes. Pretend you're in a theater and the guy next to you is coughing. Do your characters come through with the subtlety you want? Are they strong enough, even over the sound of that guy coughing? Listen.
  • When you hear comments about how people responded to your work, again, listen. Listen slowly. It is unnecessary to form changes or responses or rebuttals. Simply listen. You won't get this opportunity all the time, so take it in.
  • You do not need to defend your work. You do not need to explain your work. In fact, don't offer any explanations about why you did something-or-other in the script; take in the responses and the ideas for improvement and let them be. Ideas for improvement do not need to be adopted, they simply need to be collected.
  • Ask specific questions about plot development or voice actuation.
  • Ask if the script has the pace you wanted. Does it flow?
  • Ask if a set design idea worked. 
  • Ask if the title feels right.
  • Ask, ask, ask. This is your chance to get specific ideas about what is working in your script. This is also your chance to understand where you lost a reader or a listener. Ask, ask, ask.
  • Did I mention not to explain or rebut or defend your writing? Yup, I did. But I'm going to mention it again: Do not explain or rebut or defend your writing.
And, if you really want the low-down on workshopping, check out A Student's Guide to Workshopping the Ten Minute Play.

© 2013 Jen Whiting • The Ten Minute Play Workshop Project