Coming Soon: Online Fiction Workshop from the Author of The Writing Class

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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.

10 Comments Coming Soon: Online Fiction Workshop from the Author of The Writing Class

  1. Neva

    I’ve never participated in an online workshop and I’m kind of workshopped-out from grad school. I would be interested in working with you individually and would love to hear the details….

  2. Chris Miller

    Ms. Willett-

    As you so graciously commented on my blog entry about books last night, I felt obliged to return the favor (and have relied in more detail here).

    The workshop idea sounds intriguing, BTW, and were I not even more broke than the current average these days, I might well inflict some of my efforts upon you.

  3. Wendy Wimmer

    I would also love to be a guinea pig! Or not a guinea pig but perhaps a guinea fowl, if you already have enough pigs?

  4. Shanna Mahin


    I wanted to email you, but couldn’t find a link on your website. Which certainly doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just saying.

    I am very interested in a workshop, or possibly private critique (if I can afford it), because I really don’t like people all that much.

    Also, I write memoir. Yikes. As evidenced in recent literary headlines, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between memoir and fiction, although my work holds the distinction of actually being true. But I figure (regarding critique) that if I’m doing my job right, my work should READ like fiction, and the challenges become craft related if my story isn’t compelling on the page. I hope you agree, because I am a huge fan of your work and would love to have your insight into mine.


  5. Valerie C. Gregson

    I just love you. That is all. I buy copies of Jenny and the jaws of life for potential friends. If they understand the importance, then I proceed. I also use the old Peter Sellers movie, “The Party” for the same purpose.
    This one guy actually gave me the copy of JJOL BACK! This is the same guy who forgot to tell me he is gay. Some people. Well, in summary, your book has given me hours of enjoyment and a fine tool for weeding out dullards.
    Thank you and please write another book very similar to my favorite. Perhaps calling it JJOL #2 or whatever.

    Valerie C. Gregson

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