So, yesterday I had my first official workshop in over two years. I was a nervous wreck all week, let me tell you! However, now that it's over and done with, I thought it would be a good idea to share my experience with all of you. So this time instead of prompts or philosophical questions regarding craft I'm going to keep it brief.
What I discovered yesterday being on the opposite end of the workshop is first, it is nerve wracking. Second, the readers really know what they are talking about, especially if on the rare occasion you find yourself with a nice group like I did yesterday. They were all so helpful that I was truly surprised. I honestly expected my story to be ripped to shreds, but it wasn't, contrary, all my workshop letters that I received said that they loved it. So why did I want to bring this up here?
Dialogue. That's why. When I applied to join Detangled Writers I filled out a goal list, one of those goals was to work on my dialogue. I have been doing that, and I've been having a lot of fun with it, though it has been a real challenge. However, yesterday I was able to see the fruits of my labor (please forgive the cliche). The feedback I received all had one thing in common, near ten letters all telling me that they were transfixed by my dialogue. There were other problems with the story of course, because it was a fifteen page piece of prose that was mostly dialogue, but it was a fun undertaking, and to have such positive feedback was really enriching.
I'm learning a lot as I write, especially playing with dialogue. One is how fundamental dialogue is to characterization, and how very little things in the spoken word between two characters can do so much! I'm also learning the weaknesses of dialogue. One issue I fell into was that one character dominated the entire conversation, she was an intense character, and it was her function within the story to lead the scene, however she took it too hard, and the readers were finding themselves having a very difficult time sympathizing with her. They wanted more about her, but because of the Point of View (POV) I chose, it was very difficult for them to follow her, because they were hearing everything from another character.
I find it so very interesting how versatile dialogue is, as both a way to keep the story moving forward, but also as a characterization tool, and I am so happy that when I made that goal I stuck with it. I still have much to learn, but a positive workshop response has really helped boost my confidence as a writer.