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Nebraska Writers Workshop

How to Join

Free weekly meetings, open to all writers of poetry, scripts, and fiction.

If you are a published or aspiring writing in the Omaha area, we would love to have you join our group. We meet each Wednesday at the Ralston Baright Public Library in the public meeting room. We ask that new members attend three meetings before bringing their own works to read aloud.

Our objective is to provide local writers the opportunity to come together for mutual support, artistic growth and non-credit learning. Attendance is free. The purpose of our peer-to-peer critiques is to objectively assess the works-in-progress and help the writers gain confidence to eventually get published or produced.

What we ask from members:

No children, please. Teens age 14 to high school graduate are invited to attend the Mentored Teen portion of our weekly workshop.

Participation Rules

  1. New People must attend three times before they will be invited to bring pages to read or participate in critiques.
  2. Members wishing to read will indicate that to the Wednesday evening facilitator. Their names will go into the random drawing. Anyone who does not get to read one Wednesday will be the first up at the following meeting. The group normally gets through 6-9 readings per week.
  3. Reading material will be limited to five pages of 12-pt font, double-spaced fiction, three short poems or five pages of properly formatted stage or film scripts. Authors may give SHORT intros or set-up information but total reading and feedback time is expected to be limited to 10-12 minutes and the facilitator will stop discussions at that time limit. Someone else may read an author's material for them, if they wish. Scripts are expected to be "table-reading, parts-assigned" style. Members can always discuss material after the meeting.
  4. If any material contains 1) profanity, 2) graphic violence and/or 3) sexual descriptions, the author MUST announce this BEFORE READING to allow any attendee the option to step out during the reading or the facilitator will stop the reading when potentially offensive material is presented.
  5. All genres are welcome except pornography, erotica and nonfiction.
  6. The facilitator will have the option to be the first commenter and will select from a show of hands the 1-2 other people to make verbal comments. All others are expected to make brief notes for the author that will contain only comments intended to help improve the work. Rude, demeaning or crude remarks are not allowed. We encourage everyone to note more positives than negatives on each reading so the author will know what is working well.

Our Philosophy

The purpose of these rules are 1) to discourage transient use of the group to merely advertise the affiliation without participation and 2) to encourage sincere participation in the give-and-take of the organization. Though many new writers feel vulnerable and insecure and a few professional writers may feel frustrated with an "all-inclusive" philosophy, the Nebraska Writers Workshop maintains an atmosphere of focusing on the writing rather than the writer. No matter our background or experience, we all come to the table as equals. No one is perfect; all are the perpetual students seeking to learn and improve. Egos should be left at the door as the open mind enters the room.

Helpful Tips for Critiquing and Receiving Feedback

  1. Be truthful, but also be helpful. Say why something doesn't work and provide a resource if you know of one. However, avoid any superiority. We're here to help, not hurt or show off.
  2. Avoid effusive praise because that can intimidate others while inflating the writer's self-perception. Simply move on.
  3. If you are not versed in a genre or discipline, only make comments appropriate from an audience perspective.
  4. Never say simply "I liked this" or "I didn't like this." Vagueness helps no one. Give a brief reason.
  5. If you didn't hear or understand something, say so, but don't expect a dissertation-type explanation. That eats time.
  6. Never interrupt another person's commentary, either as disagreeing listener or as the author. Everyone is entitled to voice their own opinion.
  7. Do not repeat positive or negative someone else mentioned for the sake of our limited time.
  8. Do not demand the author agree with your opinion. The writer is the ultimate authority on his/her work and can accept or disregard anything they want.
  9. Never launch into a defense or an explanation if the commentator didn't "get it." That's another time waster.
  10. As a rule of thumb to the writer, if one person notes something, pause, but if two or more people make the same observation, give that point deep consideration.
  11. Discussion of politics and religion are not appropriate to NWW in general but are appropriate to character speeches and thoughts when relevant to the story. However, beware character lecturing because it annoys the majority of readers/listeners and those around the table will note that.
  12. Give the reader your undivided attention as common courtesy. Please silence all cell phones before the workshop begins.
  13. As a writer say, "Thank you" to those who care enough to engage their brains and evaluate the material.

NOTE: Trusting the opinions of those around the table is a gradual matter of learning the personalities of the other writers. Not everyone has the same strengths and awareness, the same education and experience insights. However, even new writers can listen as readers and those people are your potential audience or consumer. Respect both aspects as you come to understand your role in the group's dynamics.

Copyright 2019, Nebraska Writers Workshop