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Unveiling — Workshops for Everyone!

Nov 17, 2010   [permalink]

To celebrate Critters' 15th anniversary as a beyond-my-wildest-imagination successful workshop, I've offically opened up workshops for every conceivable kind of artistic endeavor: Every genre of writing and every creative non-writing activity that's come to mind — video, music, photography, art, web site design, apps, you name it.

15 years ago I was simply looking to get some diverse and unbiased reviews of my writing via the web. I never had any inkling it would grow to 10,000 members and so many award nods. Nor that, as I've repeatedly found, Critters would be the nicest people to meet in person. I've really enjoyed this, and I'm honored to have played a small role in helping you all.

Over the years members have kept asking me to expand beyond science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I kept replying that I would, when I could find the time to enhance the many software minions. It's been long enough! And I've now upgraded the minions so that — barring any unfound bugs — Critique.org is capable of handling all the many workshops and formats.

Critique.org is now a family of 16 workshops:

Science fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Writing
Mainstream and Literary Fiction
Mystery, Thriller, and Action/Adventure Writing
Non-Fiction Writing
Script, Screenplay, and Stageplay Writing
Kids Books
Comics, Graphic novels, Manga, etc.
Western Fiction Writing
Romance Writing
Adult Fiction
Video and Film
Music and Audio
Photography
Art, Painting, Drawing, etc.
Apps and Software
Website Design

(If I've missed something, drop me a line and I'll add it!)

It's a leap into the unknown adding workshops in non-writing areas like music, art, film, and so on. However, together we've all molded the "Critters process" into something that seems to work very well for helping creative folks improve their craft. I'm excited to see that applied to all kinds of expressions of the creative process. Everyone benefits, both creators and society.

Since I'm no expert in many of these areas, I look to you all, and the new members who join, to help out with suggestions how to make the workshops the most helpful they can be. You all are the reason for 15 years of success. I also know we've got some real experts out there in these areas so I hope to announce mentors and advisors for each of the various workshops. If you're a professional in one of the new areas, please let me know.

One thing I need your help with immediately is announcing these new workshops and getting the ball rolling. 15 years ago I announced Critters in a forum or two (there weren't many back then) and word got around. It's harder today with the web being so fragmented.

So if you're into any of the other areas, I would really appreciate it if you could let others know. If you hang out on a web site design forum, for example, you might post about the new web site design workshop. On a photography mailing list? Please share. Member of a professional artists' association? Let them know. Have a blog or newspaper/magazine column? Write about us. Send a copy of the press release to your local newspaper. Tell your friends and associates on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc...

The easiest is to point people to: http://www.Critique.org.

Some areas may never have experienced this kind of "critique group" concept — I haven't heard of it in photography, for example. It seems like it could be really helpful to any kind of creative process. Let's find out!

(Don't worry about folks being wary; it's natural. If anyone asks, just explain that there's never been a case of theft in our 15 year history: The works are password protected; there's a paper trail proving both original ownership and of who saw it; even more importantly, people are showing works in progress, with the idea being to improve them — so the final, more polished product isn't what's shown here anyway.)

Some of these areas may have existing workshops — the good people at Critique Circle, for example, were Critter members and I helped them get their start — so what sets us apart is the process: With your help I've set up the rules to push members toward in-depth, courteous critiques. Fully half the benefit of the workshop experience is in doing in-depth critiques, not just getting critiqued. Hence Critters' successful process doesn't lend itself to quick "I liked it" critiques — nobody benefits from that. This isn't school; you do this because you want to improve. The more you analyze what works and doesn't in others' work, the more you learn yourself about your own craft. Diplomatic delivery is another aspect of our success. As you've probably heard me say a bunch of times, I've found over these 15 years that people don't hear things when they're phrased in certain forceful ways, but they do understand when the same concepts are phrased as courteous personal reactions. Those are the keys to success. That, and of course Critique.org workshops are completely free. So even in genres where there are existing critique groups, these new workshops have something to offer. (If nothing else, competition is a good thing!)

So please help by spreading the word. I really appreciate it. Other ways you can help would be to join the new workshops in any field you work in, submit your own pieces, monitor the forums to help new members, and let me know how I can make things work better for you. Thanks!!

With your help I know we can do incredible things. I hope the next 15 years are as amazing as these past 15 have been!

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