LITR 3731 Creative Writing

Workshop Presentations

& Discussions

Overall expectations regarding presentations:

  • Every poetry and fiction presentation has two leaders: the “Author” and the “Discussion Leader.”

  • Each student will participate in leading one poetry presentation and one fiction presentation, once as Author and once as Discussion Leader.

  • As with all presentation assignments, assignments of Author or Discussion Leader are decided partly by choice, partly by chance.

  • The Author and Discussion Leader for each presentation must work together before, during, and sometimes after the class at which they present.


Combined duties of Author and Discussion Leader

  • The Author and Discussion Leader will cooperate before, during, and after class in presenting and leading a class-wide discussion of a required draft.

  • The Author and Discussion Leader may cooperate more extensively before and after the presentation in terms of reviewing and revising the manuscript, but such additional collaboration is not required.


Specific duties of Author and Discussion Leader:

Author's duties:

The Author is primarily responsible for preparing an appropriate draft manuscript that is edited, copied, and ready for the Discussion Leader and the class to read and review.

Make copies of draft manuscript for class. (App. 21 copies; instructor can help.)

Discussion leader's duties

Discussion Leader reviews manuscript before class, then leads class discussion after the Author reads the manuscript aloud.

  • Discussion Leader's purpose is to relieve the Author from presenting creative work and leading discussion.

  • Discussion Leader may indicate how much advance time s/he had to review the manuscript.

Author's in-class responsibilities:

  • Read manuscript (or portion) aloud to class to begin presentation. (Author may preface with context or other issues.)

  • Share manuscript with Discussion Leader at least an hour before class and preferably a day or two before class, either by email or in person.

  • Author may send manuscript to instructor for posting to course webpage.

  • Author answers questions from Discussion Leader and class in discussion.

  • Author may comment and ask questions of class regarding manuscript.

  • Author concludes by summarizing discussion, previewing possible changes.


Discussion Leader's in-class duties:

  • Before Author reads, Discussion Leader reminds class to make notes on copies

  • Immediately following the class reading, the Discussion Leader signals "Open Discussion" by inviting student input. Ask something like, “Any questions or comments?” Wide-open discussion may continue indefinitely.

  • After Open Discussion finishes, the Discussion Leader asks questions of the author and class.

  • Tone of questioning should be friendly, constructive, not “hostile.”

  • Some questions are standard, but the Discussion Leader must also ask a few specific questions based on the draft.

  •  Besides staying open for input of any kind, the Discussion Leader must also ask the class some standard questions and some questions special to the draft.

  • Some questions may be anticipated by Open Discussion, but asking them again or re-applying them may lead to additional ideas or insights.

  • Discussion Leaders may use their own words to frame these questions.

  • Standard questions for Author (Leaders may use their own words)

    • How did you go about drafting this poem / fiction scene? How many drafts did it go through?

    • What part(s) seemed most successful to you? (Why?)

    • What part(s) presented you with problems? Where or what kind of help would you like?

    • 2-3 questions specific to the manuscript's content or style

  • Standard questions to the class.

    • What parts worked best? What was most appealing? (Why?)

    • What parts seemed awkward or confusing? (Why?)

    • Any technical issues? (Larger stylistic issues to punctuation)

    • 1-3 specific questions based on manuscript content or style


Overall format of presentation

Author & Discussion Leader are announced by instructor.

*At some point in the presentation, Author and / or Discussion Leader must connect questions or discussion to either class readings or course objectives.


Author begins

1. distribute copies of manuscript

2. encourage students to mark or write suggestions.

3. make brief introductory remarks and preview highlights. For a poem, Author may identify whether it’s free-verse or fixed-form, + any issues needing help. For a fiction scene, identify if it’s part of a larger story + context.

4. Author reads manuscript (or parts of it) aloud.


Discussion Leader follows up

1. "Questions or comments?"

2. Call on students, and mediate between students and author. Instructor may help.

  • Summarize, redirect, refocus on text.

  • Author may take over at any time.

3. Discussion Leader asks 1 or 2 broad questions for Author and students to respond to. (see above)

4. Discussion Leader may ask editing questions (i. e., spelling, punctuation) but later in discussion.

5. Author answers questions. Discussion Leader leads any discussion, though Author may intervene.

6. Discussion Leader asks students questions. (see above)



1. Author summarizes input, previews possible changes.

2. Instructor may comment.

3. Students’ marked-up paper copies are gathered for author.


After presentation, but before final submission of manuscript

1. Author is expected to make changes to manuscript in light of discussion.

  • Instructor will be unpleasantly surprised if the exact same manuscript appears as the final submission.

  • In contrast, some serious experiments with change (+ explanations in “revision account”) often distinguish outstanding work from standard work (with considerations for grades).

2. Discussion Leader emails instructor a summary of questions for posting to the webpage. (These may be sent before the presentation.)