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Hatrack River Writers Workshop
Hosted by Kathleen Dalton Woodbury

Welcome to the pages for the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum. This forum was for writers 18 years of age and older.

Since the forum is closing at the end of June 2020, no more registrations will be accepted. You are still welcome to enter the Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum and just read what is posted there.

In Open Discussions on Writing, you will find all kinds of discussions on writing.

In the Hatrack River Writers Workshop Writing Class are a few assignments intended to 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.

In the Fragments and Feedback sections, participants posted the first 13 lines (manuscript format, 12-point courier font) of their work and asked for people to volunteer to read all of it (which they sent to them in email) and give them feedback, or they can just asked for feedback on those 13 lines.

The purpose of the feedback was 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 had to understand what the author was trying to accomplish in the manuscript--so authors needed to include that information with their 13 lines.

Another goal in giving feedback was to let the author know whether the 13 lines did or did not succeed in making the reader want to read more of the story.

Critiquers were encouraged 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 - no advice that an author to get rid of something without offering an alternative that the author can use.

The authors could 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 anywhere else.

If, after all feedback had been offered, the author wanted to ask for more specific suggestions, or if the author felt that the intent of the story was misunderstood and wanted help in making that clearer, the author could ask for further discussion along the lines of "brainstorming" with the other writers.

Even though this "brainstorming" will be less formal, it was still expected to be polite.

If the author wanted feedback on more than just the posted 13 lines, that information also appeared in the post with the 13 lines.

Those participants who wanted to read more of the story and comment on it, using the above guidelines, were welcome to volunteer.

The author could email more of the story (up to and including the whole text, if the participants agree) to any volunteer the author chose.

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 was not a publisher, and we did not want authors to risk using up their electronic rights to a story by posting any more than the first 13 lines on the forum. Most professional editors are not interested in purchasing work that has been published online, and we wanted authors to have every chance to be professionally published if that was their goal.

In the Discussing Published Hooks area, participants could post the first 13 lines of a published story for discussion of what worked and what didn't work.

There are other discussion areas you can explore, such as: FAQs and Links to Discussions--for past topics that might be of interest; Special Topics; Character Interviews; Writing Challenges; Ways to Critique--with guidelines on critiquing; and Grist for the Mill--for discussion of things not particularly related to writing (again, you need to ask the website to show you all topics in order to find everything).

The Hatrack River Writers Workshop forum is no longer active, but there are still things in it that people can learn from.

Please email Kathleen Dalton Woodbury if you have any questions or concerns.

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