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Carolyn Jacobson's Writing Group Protocol, part two

Writing Group Protocol, part two


Carolyn Jacobson

During the group session:

  1. Treat one essay at a time.
  2. Begin discussion of each essay by having someone other than the author read aloud the first paragraph (or paragraphs, depending on what constitutes the introduction). Such readings can get you talking about both the subject matter and the writing style of the piece.
  3. Have each reader in turn describe the essay and his or her reactions to the essay before the author responds to any commentary. (Instead of talking back to the readers, the author should consider taking notes about what is said and his or her reactions to the commentary.) Such an expended period of listening forces the writer to consider the commentary and how it might lead to improvements rather than how he or she is going to defend the original.
  4. Finally, open a general discussion about the content of the essay. Again, the writer might find it useful to let the group members talk about the essay. They might disagree with one another. By listening to their discussion, the writer might discover many points to use in revising.

Keep an eye on the clock, and divide your time appropriately!

At the end of the session, readers should return their copies of the essays to the author, along with their written comments. The author now has many different materials to make use of when sitting down revise.

When you turn in your essays next Thursday, please include the final drafts as well as the original draft. Please also turn in the materials you gather from your readers.

Readers: Please identify yourself by name on the materials you return to the author.

And, as always, remember to respect the writers in your group. Talking about writing is tricky business, and we need to be conscious of each other's feelings as we do it.