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Chapter SIX. The Players

The writers' workshop works best when the participants' roles are well laid out and understood by all, and the players are well matched. There are three roles in the writers' workshop: authors, a moderator or workshop leader (or two), and an audience. I use the term workshop leader when the person acts as a teacher as well as a moderator, and the term workshop moderator (or just moderator) when the person simply ensures that the workshop rules are followed. In a workshop, an audience is a group of people who are in attendance and perhaps are participating, but who are not authors of work that will be explored by this workshop. Creative workshops generally don't have audiences, though some, like Bread Loaf, do. The technical workshop, with its emphasis on summarizing the work, is more naturally suited for audiences.

The ideal size for a workshop is ten people. With ten, if each author takes about ninety minutes, it takes three to five days to go through all the work (one or two three-hour sessions per day, handling two writers per session). This is enough time for the people in the group to get to know each other well enough to know how to interpret and use the comments given. With fewer people, the total time together can be insufficient for each person to know what to do with the comments, whereas with more, the process can become tedious to some and comments can become tinged by the desire to get it over with.


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