How to Write a Well Thought Out Workshop

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Revision, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. Welcome to part two of my series of workshops on workshops: A Well Thought Out Workshop. Last time, I talked about how to do a quick, easy workshop in five to seven paragraphs. This time, I’m going to discuss what goes into a good workshop.

    One of the most important aspects (and clearly one of the most noticeable) of writing a good wiki entry or workshop is effort. The amount of attention to detail and time spent is easily noticed. If you just slap the entry together and only write a couple paragraphs, it’s probably better as a blog entry. That said, there are many wonderful workshops that are written AS blogs.

    When making something for the academy or wiki, keep in mind that you are likely going to have to do at least a bit of research, revise your work, and make sure that everything flows. This is, arguably, more important than in an RP post due to the fact that you are going to be writing to educate and not to entertain. Try to be simple and concise, explain things in a manner that your audience can understand. If you run across a concept you wish to include but find you can’t explain, link to a page that does explain it well instead of trying to tackle it yourself, then go into the ways you feel it can be used.

    As I mentioned before, research is important while making a workshop. While you might be able to get by fully on opinion, you are still likely to have to at least check a definition or look up a concept. You’d be surprised how many things you can reference for workshops and that require research. I’ve referenced everything from the Food Pyramid to wedding planning books to TV Tropes. All of these things required research.

    At the same time, remember that you are not necessarily giving a college level lecture. You’ll notice I haven’t really referenced any scientific journals. While it would be fine to do so (so long as it isn’t a journal people have to pay to read), it isn’t always necessary. There’s a lot of opinion in these workshops. Which brings me to my next point.

    Opinion and Fact

    Remember that much you will read when it comes to how to do anything artistic, be it paint, draw, write, etc. is based on opinion. Now, this doesn’t mean that some of that opinion hasn’t graduated to convention, because much of it has. This is why there are certain things that must go into a painting to make it abstract or into a story to make it gothic romance. If you are just painting or just writing a story, these opinions turned convention aren’t that important. The moment you start to define what you are doing as a specific genre or technique, the moment these opinions become your guiding rules.
    On the other hand, much of what you read will be the opinion or creation of a fellow Iwakuan. That doesn’t mean that these are bad ideas. Many of the wiki workshops created by your friends here at Iwaku are based more on opinion than fact. But! Much of that opinion is based upon years of experience and understanding of the subject matter. The more experience you have, the more opinion you tend to be able to get away with. Just remember to present it as an opinion. Also, for those of you who are reading these workshops, remember that not every opinion is going to be as valid to one person as the next.

    If, however, you are writing a very factual presentation on what makes a Gothic Romance, be sure to keep it factual. Include source links, be ready to stand up for yourself if people come at you asking you to site sources or waving their own opinions. Remember to point people to places on the internet that back you up in your facts, or, if you don’t have your sources right on hand, be ready to should you be asked. On the topic of linking to wikipedia, be sure what you are linking to has decent sources, itself. Wikipedia is rather notorious for having more opinion than fact, so make sure it links to good, reviewed sources (such as books by reputable authors or educational sites) instead of blogs and journals.

    Keeping things clear and concise is, arguably, an art form all its own. One of the best ways to understand this is to watch a good commercial. In thirty seconds, they manage to hook you and provide the information they wish to present in an appealing way. Leaving ethics aside, that IS a good use of clarity. Now, watch a bad commercial. Try one for a furniture warehouse or running shoe. In the former, you have far too much information thrown at you too quickly and are left reeling with no time to process. In the latter, you probably had no idea what you were watching til the end. These are NOT good examples of being clear and concise.

    Another thing to read is a well written prologue. In a few pages, it should have you interested or educated and ready to dive into that fictional world. Still another example is the abstract of a scientific paper. The abstract specifically must sum up most of the paper in a way that gets the attention of someone who’s probably been reading abstracts all afternoon and is well tired of doing so. Clarity needs to be able to cut through mental fog and keeping things brief yet informative, keeping the reader interested.

    How you present your workshop is very important. Some workshops need presentation of one sort, others of another. Will you use lists, paragraphs, headers? I’ll explain a bit more about presentation in the next Workshop on Workshops.

    You should now have a basic grasp on what goes into making a decent workshop. I hope that some of you are ready to give it a try. If not, read over a few workshops and see what they inspire you to write about.