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Hatrack River Writers Workshop
Hosted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
Welcome to the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum. This forum is for writers 18 years of
age and older. In order to participate, you need to register. The registration link is also near the top of the forum page under the words Hatrack River Writers Workshop.
If you aren't certain you want to register or if you just want to look
around, you are still welcome to enter the Hatrack River Writers Workshop
forum and just read what is posted there.
First, please be aware that our concern for author's rights means that this workshop is not for
stories about someone else's characters or settings; no STAR TREK stories, no ALVIN MAKER
stories, no MURDER, SHE WROTE stories, and so on. These, and others like them, are
copyrighted and such stories are only published under very special circumstances. We'd like you
to be able to see your own stories published; professionally, if possible.
Second, there are several discussion areas in the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum.
The first area is for more information about how the forum works and it elaborates on some of
the information given here.
The second area is for you to introduce yourself and tell other participants about your writing,
past, present, and future.
In Open Discussions on Writing, you can discuss all kinds of questions on writing. Feel free to
join in any current discussion, to resurrect any old discussion, or to start a new discussion on
In the Hatrack River Writers Workshop Writing Class you will find a few assignments that may
help you get a story started and maybe even finish it. You will need to ask the website to show
you all of the topics in order to find the assignments because they were posted months ago. You
are welcome to ask questions about the assignments there as well.
In Fragments and Feedback, you can post the first 13 lines (manuscript format, 12-point courier
font) of your work and ask for people to volunteer to read all of it--which you send to them in
email--and give you feedback, or you can just ask for feedback on those 13 lines.
The discussion of the 13 lines must be polite and it must deal with what is posted. No
psychoanalysis of the author, no comments on how you would do it.
Also, while this is a workshop for writers age 18 and older, it is open to readers of all ages. For
that reason, if you want feedback on something that is potentially offensive or PG-13 or worse,
please indicate that in the post and don't put such material in the 13 lines.
The purpose of feedback is to help the author turn the manuscript into the most efficient and
effective vehicle for conveying the story to the reader. In order to do that, the other writers must
understand what the author is trying to accomplish in the manuscript--so authors need to include
that information with their 13 lines.
Your second goal in giving feedback is to let the author know whether the 13 lines did or did not
succeed in making you want to read more of the story. Say where it was unclear, where it was
slow moving, and so on. Feel free to share with the author any questions you had as you were
reading the 13 lines.
Your next goal in commenting is to provide suggestions on how the 13 lines may better
accomplish what the author intends for it. This is what "constructive criticism" means, at least in
this workshop. You do not advise an author to get rid of something without offering an
alternative that the author can use.
And all through the discussion, you must be polite.
The author may ask for clarification of another writer's comments, but any explanations,
justifications, elaborations, and so on should be taken care of in rewrites. You can't explain
things that aren't in the text to an editor, so you should get out of the habit of explaining them
If, after all feedback has been offered, the author would like to ask for more specific suggestions,
or if the author feels that the intent of the story was misunderstood and would like help in making
that clearer, the author may ask for further discussion along the lines of "brainstorming" with the
Even though this "brainstorming" will be less formal, it should still be polite.
If the author would like feedback on more than just the posted 13 lines, that information should
also appear in the post with the 13 lines.
Those participants who would like to read more of the story and comment on it, using the above
guidelines, are welcome to volunteer.
The author may email more of the story (up to and including the whole text, if the participants
agree) to any volunteer the author chooses.
We set the limit at 13 lines for two reasons:
First of all, the first page of a manuscript should only have about 13 lines on it, since that first
page should begin in the middle of the paper. It is not unusual for an acquiring editor to read only
the first page (13 lines) of a submission before deciding whether to reject the submission or keep
reading. We submit that 13 lines is enough for a potential reader to determine whether or not they
want to read more.
Second, Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum is not a publisher, and we do not want you to
risk using up your electronic rights to a story by posting any more than the first 13 lines on our
website. Most professional editors are not interested in purchasing work that has been published
online, and we want you to have every chance to be professionally published if that is your goal.
In the Discussing Published Hooks area, you can post the first 13 lines of a published story for
discussion of what worked and what didn't work. If you're not sure how much is 13 lines, type the
story into your word processor in manuscript format, and cut it off at the end of 13 lines.
There are other discussion areas: Hatrack Writers in Print--where you can let people know about
publication of your work; Markets for Our Writing--where you can post information about
markets; Ways to Critique--where you can find guidelines on critiquing (again, you need to ask
the website to show you all topics in order to find the guidelines).
There is an area for Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and links to topics on the Hatrack forum
where subjects have been discussed before, as well as space for links to places on the Internet
that may be of use to writers.
Please email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury if you have any questions
We want to make this a great workshop and we're looking forward to having you become a part
Enter the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum