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Showing posts from May, 2008

Critique Groups: Good and Bad Things

by Christine Stewart

This is a four? five? part series (we’ll see how it goes!)

Let’s talk about two of the big factors in a workshop group. One good, one bad. One you want, one you don’t.


It’s chemistry. This is fairly self-explanatory if you’re dating, but maybe not so clear when it comes to a workshop or critique group. You don’t want to be nervous and sweaty or want to have a quickie in the closet with anyone in the group. (No, you really don’t.) What to look for:

Longevity: if it’s an established group you’re joining, how long have they been meeting? A year or more shows they’re solid. If you're starting a group, ask for at least a 6 month commitment, where the group meets every 2-3 weeks and agree to reevaluate at the end of the 6 months.

Training: not to be snotty, but ideally everyone in the group has either taken workshops that included discussions and applications of craft, or has a degree of some kind in writing. The best writers know what the tools of writing are …

All Agencies Great and Small: Part 2

By Richard CurtisIn the first installment of this piece we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of sole practitioner literary agencies.

With the introduction of a second person into the agency - even a secretary with no discretionary power - the dynamics of the firm usually alter sharply. The agent can if he chooses make himself less accessible, a state that is often tactically desirable. He at last has somebody to blame, perhaps not for negotiating and other serious mistakes, but at least for some of the clerical screwups that bedevil all business enterprises. On the other hand, the operation of the business should become more efficient, a fair tradeoff for the agent's withdrawal from the firing line. If the employee is anything more than a warm body occupying a desk, he or she can create some important opportunities for strategic games, can serve as a reader, rendering a second viewpoint on the salability of manuscripts, or as a sounding board for marketing, negotiating, an…