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Part: TWO Writers' Workshop > Suggestions for Improvement

Chapter FIFTEEN. Suggestions for Improvement

The heart of the writers' workshop occurs when the group is asked to supply suggestions for improvement. Implied, of course, by “improvement” is the idea that the work has some relatively weak places. Because of this, the danger is that the reviewers will gravitate toward simply pointing out the problems, reasoning that because they are not the experts, the author will be in a better position to figure out how to repair the work. But the purpose of the workshop is to find avenues for improvement, not mere criticism.

Reviewers should remember that the author is the ultimate expert on the piece. For technical pieces and for creative ones, glaring factual and literature-review errors should be pointed out, but politely and perhaps as questions:“Didn't Peter Deutsch and Danny Bobrow work on reference counting garbage collectors back in 1976?” or “Didn't they use computers to generate crowd scenes for Roman gladiator movies starting in the late 1990s?” The purpose of the workshop is to make the piece the best it can be, to make it more of what it is, not to change it into something else, especially not what you as a reviewer want it to be.


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