I had my two Final Portfolio groups today. Each group has just six students. They are a joy to teach. Half of them submit work in advance of our meeting. We all look at it, give feedback, discuss generally and then look forward to the next week when the other half of each group submit work.
We often notice same items. Sometimes though there are disagreements. Sometimes the writer may disagree with everyone else. This is actually an important point for new writers: they have to take responsibility for the decisions they ultimately make about their work.
We learnt a trick today: if the reader understands what we want them to understand we have written well. It is often hard for us to judge these things ourselves. This is a really effective way we can gain useful feedback on our work. Ask open-ended questions about the impression the reader has gained.
Often more general topics come up in these sessions. What should we do after we’ve finished this course? I offer my five suggestions, go on to post grad work, write your bestseller, go into a job that uses the same skills (advertising, teaching), become a jobbing writer or pick an uncreative job to allow space for creative activity. Then there are discussions about how to clearly mark changing points of view, how we often have to get rid of the first parts that we have written for that is how we ourselves get into the story and how it can be useful to get the story down quickly and then go back and worry about the details. We are using an art with a little craft. Writing is not an exact science even though we may look at it scientifically.
Yes, it’s great working with these lively minds. Again I say I have a fantastic day job.