I’m seriously thinking of starting up an online fiction workshop in January 2009. Plans so far:
1. Submissions will be fiction only–prose, not poetry.
2. Submissions will include short stories, novel chapters, fragments of longer works.
3. Right now, I’m not planning to screen for level of sophistication, experience, talent, etc. Come one, come all. This strategy has always worked quite well for me in in-person workshops.
4. In the future, I may offer more real-time workshops, probably involving a chat room setup rather than one involving speech. Writers are generally comfortable typing and reading; we’d just do this in a virtual room, during scheduled hours.
5. When a virtual workshop gets underway, students will read and critique one another’s work, which is what happens in actual workshops. I’ll moderate, and will, of course, be critiquing extensively also.
6. Before I get a workshop going, though, I’ll deal with submissions personally, through emails; and even after I set up virtual workshops, I’ll continue offering this personal service, for writers who aren’t interested in workshops.
7. I’ll probably use PayPal, since this is apparently the easiest way to set up payment of fees. I’ll charge so much per document, with a page limit, of course (probably 20 or so double-spaced per doc).
8. For workshops, I’ll probably charge per Workshop (where the writer commits to, say, a six-week period, and can submit a maximum of, say, 10 documents during that period) instead of per document.
9. I have no idea right now what the charge will be, but it will be reasonable, given that we’re all now officially broke.
10. Perhaps later this month I’ll ask for a guinea pig or two or three: a couple of souls willing to submit work (original, of course). Drawbacks: You’ll be helping me iron out the kinks in the system; I won’t know what I’m doing, re the workshop software, etc., and I need to practice. Advantages: When it comes to critiquing fiction, I do know what I’m doing, and for these guinea pigs, I’ll be doing it for free. Offer ends when the Workshop business gets underway.
11. Any suggestions welcome. Has anyone actually taken an online workshop? Do my ideas seem sound? Let me know.
ATTENTION: GUINEA PIG WORKSHOP IS NOW FULL (12/27/2008). We should get underway in a week or so. If everything works out, I plan to begin offering for-pay workshops (both group and individual) in late January or early February 2009.