E2 Prose Writers Group: FAQ

As an addition to Gritchka's excellent introduction into what this group is about, a few of us thought that a procedures and protocols FAQ would be helpful to group members, particularly those just joining us.

How do I join the group? How do I get on or off the e2prose message list?

As Gritchka says, any e2 god can add (or remove) you, but the gods who are part of our group (and therefore the best folks to send your request to) are Demeter, Gritchka and yossarian.

Where can I find specific advice about writing or getting my work published?

Read through the writeups listed at Writing and Publishing.

How do I reply to messages sent to me from the e2prose list?

This can be momentarily confusing for new list members. When you click on the "reply" link (the "r" in parenthesis at the start of the message), you will be sent to the "talk" prompt, where you will see /msg sendername. If you type your message and click "talk", you will be sending the message to just that person, not to the list. So, to send to the whole list, you can either:

  1. click on the "ra" (reply all) link in parenthesis
  2. if that seems too easy, you can also replace sendername with e2prose before you send the message.

What can we talk about on the e2prose message list?

As Gritchka said, this list is to "talk shop" about any and all issues in prose writing and publishing. However, because it's easy to overwhelm people with the great volume of messages that a bunch of wordy folks like ourselves can generate, here are some guidelines for the message list:

  • Keep chat and in-depth discussion for the Prose Garden. If you have a question for the group, by all means ask it on the message list, but if you see a big discussion erupting, message those folks who are online (using the command /msg? e2prose) and suggest everyone go into the Garden. If you come up with ideas that you think should be shared with the group, summarize the ideas in a message to the whole group later.

  • Alternately, if people are having trouble with the Chatterbox or otherwise can't get into the garden and you feel the topic is important for group discussion, limit the messages to those who are online (using /msg? e2prose).

  • Nodevertize judiciously. If you've written a piece of prose you want to share with the group and/or get feedback on (be the writeup new or old), by all means send a short note to the list with the writeup hardlinked in your message. Do the same if you've written a "how-to" type piece on writing.

What's the best way of workshopping prose and getting/sending feedback on a writeup?

There are several ways to go about doing this. I recommend posting critiques so that other group members can see them. It can be helpful to other people to read criticism of a piece, because (1) the critique may apply to their own work, (2) if everyone interested sees the critiques, it saves the author getting 5 separate messages that say the same thing, (3) seeing others' critiques may spark ideas that help you formulate your own critique.

However, currently the system is not set up to accomodate critical writeups posted below the author's original node. So, please don't do this, else you risk losing XP and having your response writeup nuked by an editor.

So, I would suggest doing the following:

  1. Write your piece and node it.

  2. Announce it to e2prose.

  3. In the same message, tell the group what level of critique you'd like to see; some people aren't ready for a detailed slice-and-dice and just want overall comments. Others want the full treatment. You need to tell people what you want so they can prepare their comments accordingly.

  4. Set a time (based on the e2 server clock) when you will be hanging out in the Prose Garden so that people can come give you feedback and otherwise discuss your piece. It might be good to give people at least a couple of days to get to your writeup and read it. You could hold multiple sessions, if you like, in order to accomodate people in wildly differing time zones.

  5. Post a summary of the Prose Garden chat on your homenode for a week or thereabouts so those who couldn't make the session can see what was said and follow up with their own comments via direct messages to you if they wish.

  6. Take time to digest people's comments and revise your piece accordingly.

How should I give a critique?

There is one basic rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We're here to help each other; be honest, and be respectful. Ego-stroking won't get any of us anywhere, but we also need to be supportive of each other's efforts.

Here are some other suggestions to consider:

  1. Summarize what you felt the piece was about. If your interpretation differs from the author's intended interpretation, this tells him or her that the weight of the piece is falling someplace other than where it should, and revision is in order.

  2. Consider the characterizations, plot continuity, dialog, pacing, conflict, writing style, and the mechanics of the author's writing. Did these things work for you? If not, try to think of why, and give the author suggestions for improving things.

  3. Please don't take a critique (or a refusal to follow your advice when you give a critique) personally.

  4. A good critique helps both parties improve their writing.

Wow, that's great. But what if I don't want my stuff critiqued? What if I just want to make people aware of a piece so they can read it?

That's perfectly legitmate, too. Maybe you've noded a piece you consider to be "finished", either because it's been published or you're completely satisfied with it. Maybe you noded a piece a while back, and it disappeared from the "New Writeups" window with nary a vote. It's perfectly fine to want to make group members aware of something so they can simply read it.

But, please honor the spirit of not generating too many messages on the list. If you have a lot of older pieces, you might want to create a writeup to compile them or list them on your homenode. Then, direct people to the appropriate place to find all your prose nodes neatly laid out for consumption.

I've got some old prose writeups on the server ... should I try to improve them?

Absolutely. One of the goals of this group is to improve what's already on e2. disgruntledwren has volunteered to be the leader of the Fiction Rescue Squad within our fair group. She and Arthyr (and others) will provide upvotes and chings to those who make their old prose shine.

Should I tell other people about this group?

Absolutely. The more people we have here who care about good prose and who want to work with other writers to improve the writing here on e2, the better. This isn't supposed to be a "clique"; it's just a way of focusing interest.

If you see noder who are noding original prose, be certain to message them and point them to this node.

Is there an editor in the house?

Some of the e2 editors who have voiced an interest in our groups' work include Apatrix, iceowl, wertperch, Igloowhite and sockpuppet.

If you know of anything in this FAQ that should be changed or added, please send me a message. Thanks!