Who do you workshop with? And how?

I don't know why this question has taken me so long to ask, because this is exactly the group of people I'd want to hear from: other seriar writers, especially the veterans.


Who do you work with to fine tune or overhaul or just give general feedback on your story?


To elaborate a bit, I got a comment from someone here saying basically, "This thing you did right here? You already did it and you're going to play it out." That struck a chord with me, because whether anyone would notice that as a regular or beta reader, I'm not sure any but someone familiar with serials would've been so helpful in phrasing it towards the future. That's the sort of insight I'm so focused on getting more of.


I know Unillustrated has found some very nice advice for his story's structure, and I've seen a few people get help on their design layout and such. It's not every day, though, or even every week, so I'm leery of only asking here.


Right now, I'm using Scribophile. I love the place for what it is. I wanted to try TvTropes, but the Request a Crit threads seem pretty bogged down. Not much help from Reddit yet either, save for specific questions. I will say I had a great time on /r/CasualConversation for bouncing a character's reaction around, however. :)


That's part two of my question: when you go to edit or start looking fon advice, what's your process? What do you ask for? Do you edit structure and grammar then go on to get advice about the plots and characters, or does it happen all at once for you? Is it done in big sprints?


Writing: the least intuitive application of common sense in the world. Teach me, you guys.


I have a personal group of friends, who I know from personal experience would not hold back on me if I ask them things. I talk to them about my story sometimes like that, but for the most part, I fly solo and do what I want, and then get reaction after the fact from readers, and from people on my Patreon. I've run a couple reader surveys. Then I take all that into consideration.


I have a friend I hit up with questions now and again, but I really don't have a community to fall back on. Combination of being really, really busy earning a living and not being particularly good at socializing, I guess.


The Pen & Cape Society doesn't really count because we don't really talk specifics about what we're working on, and don't necessarily read all of each others stuff (we certainly don't crit each other).


Poor me, sob sob. ;-)


It doesn't seem like any of my friends are the reading type, let alone the workshop type. Then again, maybe I'm just not asking enough.


What's been the most effective? Asking your buddies or online methods (those surveys like Dennis mentioned or other website communities)?


I use surveymonkey to make surveys, but you gotta nag your readers to complete them and that might be unpalatable. You also won't really be able to get structural advice off a survey. It's mostly good for reactions to certain plot points, character popularity, what kind of content people liked and want. For line by line kind of stuff, ime you're basically always relying on the leisure of strangers in whatever communities you find, unless you can afford to pay for editing services (you might find them cheap online but you gotta take that with a grain of salt).


I don't have any writing communities that I'd actually recommend from personal experience (other than asking around here).


Scribophile's inline edits are damn good for reactions. The chatty folks are great at typing in quick little, "Haha!" notes. I've learned from it. :)


I'm using Meetup.com to try out an Ottawa club here. They've got a mixer on the 25th, so I figured I could test the waters before going to an 'actual' meeting.


That sounds neat. Good luck to you with it. I live in a small town in the woods, so it's hard to find stuff like that. There's a group that meets in the university about an hour from here, but it's exclusively for authors whose work has slain some trees already.


And I can understand why they'd want to keep it exclusive, but - man... That means the ones on the outside don't have these more or less experts to learn from.


I run a writing group in my city, and a bunch of other writing events (both in and out of NaNoWriMo). I've got a pretty good writing community around me, most of whom have become good friends too. I've got a pool of people I can ask to beta stuff, and I sometimes take shorts to my writing group to be workshopped. That's mostly for my standalone pieces, though - novels or shorts I work on around my serial.


As far as my serial goes, though, it's different. I write and post on a week-by-week basis, so there's no time to get feedback before it goes up. Quality, structure, tone, theme, and editing are all on me. I read the comments to see how my readers are reacting (and if they are reacting the way I had hoped they would), and that helps me to gauge if I'm on-track or not. I try to keep up with any reviews on my work, too, to see if there's feedback I can use there. But I'm quite happy to otherwise be left to my own devices.


Once the serial is finished, I go back over it and do a full edit/redraft. That's the point that I'll look at it as a whole, and after which I'll get a third party to edit it for me, too. I might get additional feedback from a beta, depending on how I'm feeling about it.


As for how you approach redrafting/editing, the general rule of thumb is that you start with the big stuff: structure, plot, character arcs, etc. You can do them in the same pass, or over different drafts. Sometimes it's good to focus on just one or two elements at a time, get them right, then tackle the next one or two. Once you're happy with the big picture, then move on to the smaller things: copyediting (sentence structure, flow, etc), and proofing last (spelling, grammar). Basically, there's no point crafting the perfect sentence until you're sure you need it in the story.


Hope that helps!


Me and a couple other serial authors, mostly Chrysalis of Anathema and Underwhelming Force of Sins of the Fathers, all have a sort of writer's circle/cult thing. We post our updates and the others take a look when they have the time. We go over everything from "this sentence is missing a period at the end" to "what the hell are you doing with this character/plotline?" and everything in between. We all leave it in a google doc, because time zones usually keep us from being on at the same time, but the suggestion and comment features work just fine for getting stuff like that across.


I, personally, ask for whatever the editor thinks is wrong. Basically I don't have a set system, I just ask what they think could be improved. Sometimes it can vary from chapter to chapter. Sometimes I think a character didn't come across, or a scene didn't make sense, and I'll ask them about it.


@Syphax - So you've been able to work with other serial writers. Do you find the experience noticeably different from non-serial peer edits/critiques? And if yes or no, what would you say has a bigger impact on the group: knowing each other's plot to date, knowing the type of writing each person is dealing in (so, others would know you have a serial and you know they're writing short stories), or liking what the other people write?


I've been feeling more and more like that last one is a nice-to-have, but the first one gives you an actual continuity in opinions.


Uhhhhhhh... Well, my writing career has been "I feel like writing something" and thus my serial was born. I have zero experience in non-serial writing, so I couldn't tell you how similar or different it's been to traditional stuff.


That being said, yes, it has been quite nice having other serial writers edit my thing. The plot thing I'm not quite sure what you're asking about, reading a book or serial halfway through is not the way to go about it and I don't see why editing would be any different. But that's not the point, the point is that other serial writers understand the more episodic and long nature of serials, as opposed to writing a novel.


Okay, that's certainly fair enough. :) That's what I meant about knowing everyone else's plot.


As a bit of an aside, I think one of the main differences between serial writing/editing vs. non-serial is the need to reiterate certain points over and over (and find new ways to do it). Reading three chapters in a book can happen in an afternoon. Reading the word equivalent in a serial may take place over a couple months as updates come out, and in theory any one entry could be the first one someone sees. Do you have them hooked? Meanwhile, is your regular reader getting bored because it's the fourth time you've mentioned a plot point? Or have they forgotten the plot point because it's from last month? That's my feeling, anyway. ("Why are you repeating this?" "Because people may have forgotten.")


Incidentally, I've done free edits for a number of my friends (more novel form than serial). Free because I'm no professional, but I used to edit for a university publication, and along with grammar I'm pretty good at catching continuity gaffes. And, Tartra, I recognize I'm in the same city. I'll try to make a point of adding your story to my list of things. The caveat is, a teaching workload tends to come in waves, so I can't give a fixed timeline. Plus, I can count the number of people who've commented on my stuff using my fingers, so for all I know I'm making horrible choices myself and you might not want to listen anyway. ;)


@Kess: Big picture stuff first makes total sense. It occurs to me that those who write their story first, then post it up in chunks, would have an easier time of it (or a harder time if an error is spotted too late...)


@mathtans - Right, the reiteration is very important, but especially when you have a new reader with the full archives available, it goes from a 'helpful reminder between lengthy updates' to 'What, this again? Geez, enough, I get it.' I don't know if someone writing their own business or avid fans of serials makes them better spots at where the line's crossed, but I'd like to think you'd be better at putting your finger on it. If you're not primed, you at least know the specific trap that we can fall into. That's better than a vague, 'I dunno. Something just needs to change'.


And that'd be very helpful, mathtans, but don't feel pressured! It' s awesome seeing how many local writers there are I'm running into online, but if I'm going to twist your arm, it's because I keep running into you on WFG rather than IRL. :D


What I'm working on now is finding writers who can go through multiple chapters in unison. When I'm done there, I'll be reporting back with benefits or jack squat in differences.