Thursday, March 2, 2017

Novel Writing Workshop

I heard yesterday that the Zafris-Kothari Novel Workshop has some openings for the week-long workshop in July. If you are struggling at all with your novel, I highly recommend this workshop. It was previously held at Kenyon College, but has moved this year to The Ohio State University campus. The dates are July 19 to 25.

This workshop is unlike any other that I've attended or seen advertised. Usually, workshops have about ten writers and one facilitator who go around the circle and give their opinion about twenty pages of each writer's novel. This is all good and fine and useful in its own way, but getting feedback from other writers who are struggling isn't always helpful (especially in those workshops where egos and personalities muck things up) because new writers aren't experts. People attend workshops because they aren't experienced writers and they want to learn. The other downside to typical workshops is that each participant is tasked with critiquing nine other manuscripts - and the majority of the effort is in giving thoughtful and useful critiques to others.

The difference with the Zafris-Kothari Novel Workshop and the thing that made it so worth the money for me was the fact that 100 pages of my novel was critiqued by professionals. Now there's an option to submit 200 pages. Craft lessons are also a huge part of the workshop. When I was there, Karin Lin-Greenberg gave an excellent lecture on how to balance the internal and external, which I have found to be incredibly helpful in both my novel and my short fiction.

Because a huge chunk of my novel was critiqued, I was able to get solid feedback on what was working and what wasn't working across my entire novel. The fact I didn't need to critique other peoples' pages made the workshop feel like it was focused on me and my writing and not on my ability to give feedback.

For me, this workshop was life-changing as a writer. I really hope some of you can attend. If you have any questions about my experience at the workshop, please post in the comments.


UPDATE: The workshop was cancelled for this year.


  1. Not having to critique others is a big plus. You're right - why would you want advice from other struggling writers? No wonder you got so much out of that workshop.

    1. I'm not sure if they are still doing it this way, but when I was there (when it was housed at Kenyon College) we had small groups where we got to listen to the feedback given to one or two other writers whose manuscripts we had the opportunity to read. It was striking to me how spot-on they were about the other manuscripts. It helped me listen to the advice I was being given on my own novel.

  2. Wow, this sounds like a fantastic opportunity. Thanks for sharing your experience.