There is a current workshop member with the same first and last name and/or the same e-mail address that you have just submitted for a new membership. If you are a current member but have forgotten your password or log-in name, please use the password/ID request form (or contact us) and do not submit this form. If you have deleted your membership and now wish to reinstate it, contact us and we will set you up again; do not submit this form.
However, if you just happen to have the same name as a current member, please add your middle name to the first-name text box or otherwise differentiate your name from the current member's. This will prevent confusion in the future. Then go ahead and click on the "Next Step" button to join the workshop.
If you are using the same e-mail address as a current member (for example, sharing a household or classroom account), no problem. Just go ahead and click on the "Next Step" button to join the workshop.
OWW Frequently Asked Questions
Points and Reviews
Q: What's your definition of fantasy or horror? Does paranormal romance count? What if my alternate history's not strictly science fiction? How about horror with no supernatural element? Basically, how does the workshop interpret genre labels?
Features and Community
Q: So how does this membership thing work?
A: The OWW is a password-protected workshop which requires a membership to use. There are several reasons for this, the foremost being that a password-protected, "closed" workshop allows writers to post drafts of their work without using up their first rights, since work posted to a restricted group isn't considered published. Anyone can purchase a membership, and to make sure that it's a place that's valuable to you before you slap down any money, there's a free trial month available to test it out. If you decide you'd like to keep on after the free trial month, memberships can be purchased in the membership area, which is also where you can make scholarship donations and/or bonus payments.
Q: Are there any rules or legal requirements attached to the workshop?
Q: What happens if my membership expires? Do I lose all my submissions, critiques, and review points?
A: Not to worry! Memberships aren't deleted when they expire; they just go dormant. So no matter how long a membership has lapsed, all the review points and lifetime review totals will still be there when you renew. Submissions are generally auto-deleted by the system after three months, but any critiques on those submissions will be e-mailed to you at that time.
Q: I had a membership a long time ago; can I reactivate it?
A: You can! To reactivate an old membership, all you have to do is sign in with the old user name and password. This will take you to a screen that says the membership is expired and offers a link to the membership area. If you renew through that link, any months purchased will apply to the old membership and reactivate it.
If this doesn't happen, or if you've forgotten your old user name and password, contact us; we will look you up.
Q: I sent in a membership payment a few days ago; why hasn't my membership expiration date been updated?
A: Unfortunately, sometimes workshop renewals are delayed by the vagaries of the banking system. Membership payments made through PayPal are handled automatically and immediately, unless the PayPal payment is via e-Check; those take a few days to clear on the PayPal side, then are processed automatically by OWW when the payment makes it to our account. Membership payments made via check or barter are entered by hand. This is also part of why the workshop issues an automatic two-week reminder when a membership's about to expire: to give you time to handle it with uninterrupted access.
If the delay is longer than a week, please feel free to contact us and we'll gladly track down your payment.
A: There is indeed. See the question about OWW temporary scholarships below.
A: The OWW has a scholarship fund, paid into by the generous contributions of workshop members, to temporarily subsidize workshoppers who are in a rough financial patch but are definite assets to the community. Temporary scholarships can be requested--for yourself, or more importantly, for others!--by contacting us. Scholarships are awarded based on need, contribution to the community, and other factors, and at the complete discretion of workshop staff.
If you'd like to donate to the scholarship fund, you can do so in the memberships area by using the "Scholarships" link at the bottom of the page.
A: Bonus payments are basically a tip jar: if members feel like the workshop is worth more to them than the standard $49 a year or want to contribute to keeping the 'shop running, they can send bonus payments. 25% of any bonus payments go to our support staff, like a tip for good personal service, and the rest is folded back into the business of keeping the workshop running.
A: We do have complimentary professional memberships available! Contact usfor requirements and details. To renew your professional membership once it has been awarded, just request a renewal.
A:Monthly subscription payments--for which PayPal debits your account every month--are most simply cancelled by you, the subscriber, through PayPal. You log into your PayPal account, look up the subscription, and cancel it. PayPal keeps regularly updated instructions on how to modify or cancel subscription/recurring payments. Instructions can also be found at the bottom of each e-mail PayPal sends you when it deducts a subscription payment.
Q: How do I make my text bold, underlined, or italicized? Or perhaps all three at once?
A: Use the text-styling buttons at the top of the text box, or if your submission has a lot of text styling throughout, insert the HTML tags, save your submission as a plain-text file (.txt), and click the "Source" button on the text box before you paste it in. Basic HTML codes:
To get bold text, put the words you want bolded between <b> and </b>; so in this example, this would bold the word "and."
To get italicized text, put the words you want in italics between <i> and </i>.
To get underlined text, put the words you want in italics between <u> and </u>.
To center your text, put the words you want centered between <center> and </center>.
To start a new line without starting a new paragraph (for example, when posting a verse snippet) put <br/> at the end of each line.
Q: Help! There are these funny characters in my submission where the quotation marks and apostrophes are supposed to be! What's going on?
A: This is a pretty common issue: it has to do with what happens when proprietary characters from (usually) Microsoft Word and the Internet collide.
The quotation marks and apostrophes become a mess because Word uses what people usually call "curly quotes": basically, Word has a proprietary character for quotation marks and apostrophes, which doesn't translate into a text-only format, but produces its code number instead. HTML-readers don't know what that code number means, so they can't produce the character. Sometimes they guess.
To keep this from happening, there's a setting in Word you can change: there are instructions on Microsoft's Web site. To get rid of the problem in existing files, the easiest thing to do is save the file as text (.txt) or open it in Notepad, and then paste into the workshop from there.
Q: Help! My word processor said that my submission was under 7,500 words, but on the workshop, it's over 7,500 words! What's going on?
A: Not to worry: this is due to a difference between the way many word processors (notably MS Word) count words and how the workshop software counts words. Many word processors consider a word to be an average of six characters, and average it out from there. The workshop counts a word as anything that goes between two spaces. That's why there's sometimes variance between the two counts.
Q: Why's the word limit on submissions 7,500 words?
A: We picked 7,500 words as the limit because a short story is generally considered to be 7,500 words or below. Above that, one would be asking critiquers to review a novelette or novella for the same critique points as a short story, and that didn't seem fair. Also, even though the official limit is 7,500 words, there's a more informal limit of about 6,000 words; through experience, workshoppers have realized that people are leery of reading more than 5,000 or 6,000 words at a stretch online. So if you have a piece that's within the official word limits but at the top end, you may want to consider splitting it up into two: it'll, right off the bat, get more and quicker critiques.
Q: I have something I want to workshop, but it's more than 7,500 words. What do I do?
A: Not a problem! Workshoppers tend to split longer works into chunks to workshop. Just add "Part 1" and "Part 2"--or however many parts you need--and you're on your way. It will cost you more points to post your submission, because it is longer than usual. But again: if you have a longer piece, splitting it up into two submissions will get more and quicker critiques.
Q: How do I know that my work is safe from plagiarism?
A: First and foremost: we have never had a report of plagiarism substantiated on the workshop.
There are a few features of the workshop that prevent plagiarism, some technical, some legal, and some social. The password protection and lack of permanent archiving of submissions keep access to submissions tight and limited to those who are there to critique, rather than the general public.
The legal protection is that of copyright: Your work is protected by copyright laws as soon as you finish it. If someone took your words and changed only a few lines or names or whatever, that would be plagiarism, and you would have the full protection of the law.
There's also a lot of work and risk involved in plagiarizing unpublished work. It's easier to steal work that's already been published rather than to sort through hundreds of submissions trying to find the best one -- and who knows if that's even publishable? Furthermore, if someone did try to steal another member's work, they wouldn't be able to brag it up: the workshop's a pretty tight-knit community of voracious readers, and too many other members would likely to recognize it for the perp to get away with the theft.
The major preventer of plagiarism is actually the membership fee: Members who are willing to pay $49 a year to access the workshop are generally people who are serious about their work and improving their craft; writers serious about their craft take pride in it, and that means no shortcuts, no cheating, and no plagiarizing. We're here to get our own work right, not lift someone else's.
There are also some strategies that members who are more concerned about plagiarism sometimes take to prevent it from happening, such as not posting a final draft of a work, only intermediate drafts, or not posting the last few chapters of a novel. Whether you want to try out either of those strategies depends purely on your personal comfort level.
All that being said, if you are concerned that a submission has been plagiarized from your work, contact us. It's something we can easily investigate.
Q: Does posting on the workshop use up my first rights or count as publication?
A: It doesn't. Since the workshop is password-protected and not open to the public, workshopping a piece doesn't count as making it public. You're putting it out there not for the purposes of public reading, but for feedback with an eye to refining it.
Some members who are more concerned about questions of rights will do a few things to prevent any misunderstandings. Several members are in the practice of not posting a final draft of a work, only intermediate drafts, or not posting the last few chapters of a novel and instead sending those via e-mail to the critiquers who have followed the novel all the way through. Whether you want to try out either of those strategies depends purely on your personal comfort level.
Q: How long can I keep a submission on the workshop?
A: An active submission is shelved (moved to Your Library Shelves) and its reviews are e-mailed to you three months after the last alteration to the submission. So if you post a submission and do not make any changes, it will be shelved to the Library in three months. If you post a submission and, one month in, you edit it to add a few paragraphs or change some wording, it will be shelved three months after that. Once it is on your Library Shelves, there is no time limit to how long you can keep it on OWW. (You can delete it whenever you want, however, and it will disappear if your membership lapses.)
Q: What's with all the subgenres? Do I have to choose one? What if I'm not sure what mine is?
A: Not to worry! The subgenres are a feature to help workshoppers find the specific flavor of fantasy, science fiction, or horror they're looking for, or to help critiquers know which genre rules the submission should be playing inside--that this airship here fits, but that laser doesn't. But they're entirely optional: if you don't feel like any of the choices fits your submission or aren't sure which one, you can label it broadly or use the classic "cross-genre"!
Q: Why do I need to choose an audience? What if I don't know what my audience is?
A: The audience label does two things for both writers and critiquers: first, it helps writers who are interested in reading or writing young adult fiction find each other. Young adult and middle-grade books often have their own conventions and ways of doing things, and it's useful to be able to find other members who are working under the same genre rules.
The second reason for the audience label is for the information of members who prefer not to review submissions with explicit adult content. While we allow adult content on the workshop up to the point that would reasonably appear in a book shelved in the fantasy/SF/horror section at a bookstore, such content simply isn't what some members are here for. This gives them a heads-up, making sure that the reviewers can stick to their personal content guidelines and the writers can receive reviews that are helping them maximize the potential of what they'd like to do, rather than reviews which aren't keen on what they're doing in the first place.
If you're not sure what your audience is, Adult is a good default; it lets critiquers know the piece isn't explicitly young adult or for children and that it's not explicitly not for children.
Q: What's a synopsis? It's listed as a type of submission, but I don't know what that means.
A: A synopsis is an integral part of the package a writer puts together when it comes time to send the book out to agents or editors, looking for that book deal. It's a short summary of the action of the book, written in third person and present tense, that tells an agent or editor what happens, beginning to end. Find a FAQ on synopsis writing in our Writers' Resources area, or read the summary at Fiction Writer's Connection.
While workshop members have run occasional synopsis-writing focus groups, sometimes members want to put their synopses up there at other times. Also, sometimes a posted synopsis also helps reviewers who jump into reviewing in the middle of a novel. That's what this label is for!
Q: Why do some members have four active submissions posted? I thought the limit was three!
A: The limit on active submissions is three, with one notable exception: Editor's Choices. The workshop has four professionals who serve as Resident Editors, for horror, science fiction, fantasy, and short fiction respectively, and every month they choose one piece in their genre or format and give it a thorough, professional critique: those chosen submissions are the monthly Editor's Choices. The submissions they pick are featured in the next month's newsletter and can be left up for four months without being removed by the workshop's system. Editor's Choices don't count against the three-active-submission limit, so they show up as a fourth active submission on the author's profile.
Q: What are the Author's Notes for?
A: Whatever you want! It's your space to tell reviewers anything you'd like them to know about the piece, including if there are any questions or issues you're hoping they could focus on (for example, not being sure about the characterization of one person in the third scene). For later novel chapters, the Author's Note is also frequently used to provide a summary of the story thus far. Others use it to let readers know what changed if this is a second workshopped draft, to say something about return critiques, or let readers know what the intent of the piece is. So basically, any information you think reviewers might find helpful? This is the place for it.
Points and Reviews
Q: I see there are review points. What are the points for?
A: The points are used to post active submissions on the workshop. It costs four points to post an active submission--with a limit of three active submissions at a time--and you earn points by reviewing other members' active submissions. Standard reviews earn one point each, but if your review is the first on a submission or if you review an under-reviewed submission, you'll get two. Submissions on a member's Library shelves are not active--they can be read, but can't be reviewed.
Q: What's an under-reviewed submission?
A: We keep track of how many reviews all submissions have gotten. If a submission is below a certain threshold for number of reviews or time online without reviews, we display it (in rotation with other under-reviewed submissions) at the top of the Read, Rate, Review listings. To entice reviewers, we offer that extra point. Sometimes members make a concerted effort to review all the under-reviewed submissions on the workshop by a deadline--it's fun! And there are prizes.
Q: I critiqued a submission but didn't receive a review point for it. Why not?
A: There is a minimum word count for a valid critique on the workshop, and below that, the workshop doesn't award points. If you didn't receive a review point, paste your critique into a word processor and run a word count on it; it's likely too short. The minimum word count is there to encourage substantive critiques. We've found that most critiques under our word count do not contain much feedback that is of use to the author. To correct that, there are tips available in the How to Review FAQ on how to write more helpful, contentful critiques.
Q: Someone's left a first critique on my new submission for the two points, but it doesn't look like they've actually written very much...
A: While there isn't an official mechanism to prevent a member from doing the minimum to get the two points for a first critique on a submission, this a practice is severely frowned upon, both by workshop staff and the membership. Most new members figure out pretty quickly what a substantial review entails, and adjust to giving them both as the first critique on a submission and everywhere else. However, if you feel a member is targeting new submissions for extra points and not providing substantial critiques in return, your first step should be to contact us.
Q: Help! I just posted a critique this week, but it's not appearing on my Reviewer History anymore. What's up?
A: The first thing to check is whether the submission you critiqued is still up. Critiques are attached to the submission they're for, and when an author decides that he or she would like to remove the submission, the critiques go with it, which is partly for intellectual property protection. The likeliest cause of a missing critique, then, is that the submission's been removed from OWW by the author. If a submission is there but the critique isn't, the author may have removed and re-posted the submission or a very slightly changed draft. (If a submission has merely been moved to the Library, your review will still appear.)
Q: Help! I deleted a submission without first saving the critiques on it. Do you have them archived somewhere?
A: Unfortunately, no. Due partially to privacy concerns--protecting the authors' rights to their own work--we don't archive submissions or critiques on the site. When it's gone, it's sadly gone. You can always use the "E-mail Submission/Reviews" button on the Manage tab of your submissions to receive that content via e-mail (this requires giving us a valid e-mail address, of course!).
Q: I just got a review and I'd like to talk with the reviewer about it some more: how can I contact him/her? Is there a protocol for this?
A: There is! Most workshoppers do include an e-mail address on their critiques or in their profiles. You can consider an e-mail address included with a critique as an open door of sorts, a statement that the reviewer is available for further discussion if something's unclear.
The only real protocol when it comes to e-mailing about critiques is to be polite and constructive, and not argue the critique. Remember: every workshopper is just giving you one individual's opinion of your submission, and it's aimed at making that story or chapter the best it can be. While most people are open to discussing any points that were unclear or expanding on a thought in e-mail, nobody's open to arguing over it. We will say this again: don't argue the critique. OWW expects that you will follow our rules for members in any e-mail sent in response to a workshop review.
Thank-you notes are also considered polite, and are never taken amiss. It's also a great way to develop critiquing relationships with your reviewers.
Q: I got a review that's really got steam coming out my ears. What should I do?
A: Generally, it's always a good idea to sleep on it. If in the morning it's still looking like it's inappropriate and/or has broken the workshop rules, contact us. Part of what we do is help mentor workshoppers so they can be strong and effective reviewers, and it's entirely probable that the person who gave the critique is new at this. If not, Support can also handle any cases of inappropriate behavior on the workshop.
Q: I got ten views but no reviews. Why? What does it MEAN?
A: While it's definitely a nail-biting experience when you post something you're really proud of and see those views rack up, workshoppers sometimes just browse: people are peeking in for a first paragraph that grabs them, or taking a minute to add the submission to a list to critique later, or writing a critique offline, or looking for something to crit between doing the dishes and putting in the laundry. So it's definitely not a judgment on your story or chapter! It's mostly about how people organize their critiquing schedules.
The average views-to-reviews ratio for submissions from a workshopper who's normally active is about one review for every eight or ten views. If you want to improve that ratio, of course, the best prescription is to be an active critiquer yourself and to build strong critiquing relationships.
Q: Help! I've had a submission up for DAYS, but I'm not getting any reviews--what's wrong?
A: The average views-to-reviews ratio for submissions from a workshopper who's normally active is about one review to eight or ten views. If you want to improve that ratio, of course, the best prescription is to be an active critiquer yourself and to build strong critiquing relationships. It may not sound like the most intuitive thing, but to get more and faster critiques, get out there and do some critting: people will look at your input and come check out what you've got on offer yourself. This especially works for newer members: think of it as introducing yourself to the group. When you're starting out, though, expect to do several critiques for each one you'll get, until you get somewhat established.
Another thing you can try is to mark the title of your submission with a "C4C," which stands for "crit for crit." Basically, this means you're committing to return any and all critiques which come your way for that submission. Don't use this, though, unless you're going to definitely return them: promising to return a critique and not returning it isn't great etiquette.
Q: I got reviewed! Yay! What should I do now?
A: The courteous thing to do is to drop the reviewer a thank-you note, or, if you have the time to do it immediately, return the critique--or both! Returning critiques is especially helpful when it comes to building long-term critiquing relationships, which aren't just good for your fiction, but a great way to make friends.
Q: I went to review something, but boy, can this gal write! Is it better to just find someone my level?
A: Don't worry: even if you're bowled over by a submission, there's plenty you can still say that'll help that author polish it or diagnose where it's working well or poorly. Writing a good critique isn't just a matter of saying what doesn't work for you; saying what is working, and why, can really help an author see what parts of the draft are strong or weak.
Also, it's always helpful to provide pure reader reaction to a piece. For example, how do you feel about what the characters are doing? Where do you think the story's going at any given point? What bits of the world excite you, or make you wonder, and when you're wondering, what are you wondering about? This kind of feedback can help an author check if the road he or she is laying down with the piece is the road you're walking on, and make sure the story or chapter is getting across what is planned in the best way.
Q: I got this incredible critique, but the critiquer's e-mail address isn't listed. How can I thank her?
A: There are two easy ways to drop a thank-you when there's no e-mail address listed. The first is to nominate the review to the Honor Roll by clicking the "Nominate this review to the honor roll" link at the bottom of the review. It's a great!—and public!—way to show your appreciation, since the Honor Roll is published on the OWW site and summarized in the OWW Newsletter every month.
If you'd really like the personal touch, contact us; we have no problem at all passing on thank-you notes to other members!
Q: Help! I wrote this long review but now I can't find the submission. What do I do?
A: This sometimes can happen if an author removes the submission before you have a chance to post a review, but there's no reason to worry: if the writer has an e-mail address listed, you can drop it into e-mail and send it over. Workshoppers are always very grateful to get an unexpected critique in e-mail! You won't get review points for this, though. So try to avoid long lags between finding a submission to review and posting the review. If your review was saved as a draft when the author removed the submission, OWW will send you the text of your draft review via e-mail.
Q: Who should I review if I'm looking for return crits?
A: Many workshoppers have a "C4C" next to their names or in the title of their submissions: that stands for "crit for crit." This means they're guaranteeing that they'll return any critiques that they receive. Those workshoppers are usually a safe bet if you're looking for solid return critiques.
However, a great way to get return critiques is just to be helpful to authors whose work you find interesting. Other workshoppers usually want to keep a helpful critiquer around!
Q: What's a crit relationship, and how do I build one?
A: A crit relationship is when two workshoppers, formally or informally, review most or all of what the other posts . For many workshoppers, it's a major goal of participating on the site: building relationships with people you know will reliably critique the bulk of your work and who will understand, through reading your work frequently, where your general weak spots, strong points, and interests are as a writer. This is especially useful if you are planning to run a whole novel through the workshop--reviewers new to your work are unlikely to start with chapter 17, but your dedicated crit partners will be on board for the whole novel.
Building a crit relationship requires a bit of a long-term effort. The best way is to demonstrate to the other member, once you've found one whose work and approach to critiquing you really appreciate, that you're reliable and there for the long haul. Being prompt with reviews for them, prompt with thank-you notes for reviews, and just generally being friendly and social and thoughtful will do the trick most every time, if your reviews are helpful to them.
Q: What's a "weak verb"?
A: Members often refer to verbs that are vague, non-specific, or more generic by the term "weak verb." It's one of the common traps writers can fall into, and tends to get attention on the workshop. (As always, if you're not sure what a reviewer means in their critique, feel free to drop them a friendly e-mail to ask what terminology or a point means. It's rarely taken amiss.)
Q: What does "this passage was telly" mean? I thought telly was the TV.
A: "Telly" is shorthand for a truism from the Turkey City Writer's Lexicon: show, don't tell. It's a common trap for writers, which is why members might use it as shorthand. As per Turkey City: The reader should be allowed to react naturally to the evidence presented in the story, not instructed in how to react by the author. Specific incidents and carefully observed details will render auctorial lectures unnecessary. For instance, instead of telling the reader "She had a bad childhood, an unhappy childhood," a specific incident--involving, say, a locked closet and two jars of honey--should be shown.
On a more general note: If you're ever unsure about what a critiquer means in their review, don't hesitate to drop him or her a polite note to inquire. Most reviewers are happy to explain themselves further so long as the writer isn't e-mailing to argue that their review is wrong.
Q: Who put a bounty on adverbs?
A: There's a school of thought that feels that too many adverbs weaken prose; that it creates cleaner, stronger prose to use specific verbs rather than more general verbs modified and made specific by adverbs. Even if members have a wide spectrum of ideas on what makes the best, most interesting, most effective prose, the question of adverbs has gotten a lot of play on the workshop, and so members tend to be aware of them.
As always, if you're not sure what a reviewer means in a critique, feel free to drop him or her a friendly e-mail message to ask what terminology or a point means. It's rarely taken amiss.
Q: Didn't OWW once offer a romance workshop?
A: We did! The romance workshop was unfortunately closed many years ago, but writers of paranormal or supernatural romance are more than welcome in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror workshop.
Q: What's your definition of fantasy or horror? Does paranormal romance count? What if my alternate history's not strictly science fiction? How about horror with no supernatural element? Basically, how does the workshop interpret genre labels?
A: A good rule of thumb for deciding how to label your submission--or whether this is a good workshop for that type of project!--is to consider where the book, if it was published, would be shelved in a bookstore. If you can make a decent case for it being shelved in a genre section, we can probably make a case for it being on a genre workshop!
Features and Community
Q: What are telltales and how do I use them?
A: Telltales e-mail messages that are sent to you in one of three cases: when someone reviews your submission; when someone you've telltaled posts a new submission or revises an existing one; or when someone reviews another writer's submission that you've telltaled. These let you follow critique partners or keep up with your reviews without having to go back to the workshop again and again simply to check. Telltales on your own submissions are the default, but you can turn them off.
There are a few ways to set a telltale for a submission. You can sign up for them by clicking a link in the submission or in a person's entry in the Member Directory. You can sign up for review telltales in a few ways too: in a member's Reviewer History page or in the Member Directory.
To manage your telltales--say you'd no longer like to find out when a certain member posts to the workshop, or would like to see how many you have--go to your Telltales page via your Dashboard.
Q: What are lists and how do I use them?
A: Lists are a feature that let you organize the way you interact with the workshop. You can build lists of submissions, workshop members, or reviews--or all three--and name or sort them however you'd like. Some members use lists to keep track of their favorite writers, manage submissions they'd like to review, create shortcuts to the user info of critique partners, or assemble lists of potential critique partners.
Access your Lists page via your Dashboard; on your Lists page, you can start a list or edit it. To add an item to a list you already have, click the clipboard symbol on that item's page.
Q: What's an Editor's Choice?
A: The workshop has four resident professional editors, for horror, science fiction, fantasy, and short fiction, and every month they choose one piece in their genre or format and give it a professional critique. The critiques are featured in the next month's newsletter, and the submissions can be left up for four months without being taken down automatically, even if they are not updated. During that four months, Editor's Choice selections will not count against your three-submission limit, so an Editor's Choice will show up as a fourth submission on your profile.
If a submissions of yours is selected as an Editor's Choice, it's partly going to be used as a teaching tool for other members: the editors pick submissions that can be reviewed in such a way as to help both the writer and other workshoppers learn something about their craft. But rest assured: it's also a compliment.
A: The Reviewer Honor Roll is a workshopper's way of recognizing a really strong, helpful, or thoughtful review. If you receive--or read!--a review that's really exceptional, you can nominate it to the Honor Roll by using the link reading "Nominate this review to the honor roll" right underneath the review. You can add an explanation of what made the review stand out. You do not have to be the submission's author in order to nominate a review to the Honor Roll.
Honor Roll reviews are listed in the OWW newsletter every month, and the staff collects Honor Roll stats, with recognition and occasional prizes going to members who have the most nominations in a year.
Q: What are those little bees?
A: The bees next to some members' names are an indicator of their Reviewer Level: how many reviews they've done over their lifetime membership on the workshop or, put another way, how busy a bee they've been! Members get the black bee after 50 reviews, the blue bee at 150 reviews, and the gold bee at 350 reviews; gold-bee reviewers are definite veterans (we award them the title Master Reviewer).
If you receive a bee, be very proud. The bees are badges of pride and indicate that you have contributed significantly to making the workshop work! Other members' bees let you identify the experienced reviewers on the workshop vs. newer members who might be looking for critique partners or have a fresh perspective to offer. The bees are one more piece of information to help you learn who has what to offer or seek out a specific kind of reviewer for your own work.
Q: Hey, I want to hang out with some of these people! Anywhere I can do that?
A: There is indeed! There are two e-mail discussion groups associated with the workshop: oww-sff-writing and oww-sff-chat, both hosted by Yahoo!. Oww-sff-writing is a more craft-focused list, actively moderated, with a focus on talking about the craft and business of writing or brainstorming ideas. It's the more active list. Oww-sff-chat is a general list on which to hang out, talk about everything besides writing, and just generally be social. An active membership to the workshop is not required to join or post.
On both lists, new members' posts are moderated for a period averaging one month, so they have a chance to learn the ropes. You can read more about the discussion groups and join up on the discussion group page.Many workshoppers are also on Facebook and Twitter. Workshoppers who blog also frequently leave the URLs of their blogs in their member info, which is another great place to look.
Workshop members also sometimes use the discussion groups to find out who is going to upcoming genre conventions and arrange in-person meetings. There are usually a fair number of OWW members at bigger conventions, especially Worldcons.
Q: Hey, I sold a story! Anywhere I can brag it up?
A: Congratulations! We announce sales, publications, awards, and other publishing milestones every month in the OWW newsletter, which comes out on the first of each month and is always accessible in the newsletter area.
To report a sale or accomplishment, e-mail the OWW newsletter editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What's the Challenge? What are these submissions labeled "Challenge" all about?
A: Every month our members brainstorm up a writing challenge, announced in that month's newsletter. Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to newsletter editor Maria Zannini at email@example.com, or to the current Challenge Dictator, when one has arisen from the mass of members. The Challenge Dictator suggests challenges and handles new challenge suggestions from other members. As in real life, dictators come and go, so each month's newsletter indicates where to share your challenge ideas.
If a challenge topic appeals to a member, he or she writes a challenge piece and posts it on the workshop. Many members label their challenge stories with "May Challenge" or "June Challenge," so members who are looking for challenge pieces to read can find them.
Challenge pieces are supposed to be a chance to stretch yourself, have fun, and get out of your sandbox. There's no word limit, no time limit, and it doesn't even have to be all that good: it's about trying new things. That being said, we have found over the years that challenge pieces have a pretty strong rate of sale to professional and semi-pro markets: proof that it's good to stretch yourself sometimes!
Q: What's this Focus Group thing people mention sometimes?
A: Every so often workshoppers run a focus group on a particular topic that people are interested in, be it writing better reviews, putting together the query package to send to agents or editors, or a particular element of writing. Focus groups are like mini-workshops, although more structured. They're limited to a smaller group of members, often involve readings and several rounds of critique and rewriting, and are much more intensive than the usual workshop experience. They're also entirely volunteer-run, completely free, and overall, an intense experience that really, really pays off.
Since focus groups are put together when workshoppers feel like they need one, they aren't regularly scheduled, but any upcoming focus groups, their formats, and their dates are announced in the OWW Newsletter. If you'd like to request or run a focus group, contact us and/or share your idea with others on the oww-writing discussion group.
A: Not a problem! There are a lot of acronyms or short forms that workshoppers use that are general to the Internet, but several more that are workshop-specific. Here are a few to get you started:
|AFAIC||As far as I'm concerned|
|AFAIK||As far as I know|
|BTW||By the way|
|C4C, CFC||Crit for crit; this is a promise to return any critiques received.|
|FWIW||For what it's worth|
|HTH||Hope this helps/helped.|
|IIRC||If I recall correctly...|
|IMNSHO||In my not-so-humble opinion|
|IMO/IMHO||In my opinion/In my humble opinion|
|IOW||In other words|
|LOL||Laughs out loud|
|OTOH||On the other hand|
|OTTN||On to the next!|
|POV||Point of view|
|PPFG||Proposal Package Focus Group|
|ROFL||Rolling on the floor laughing|
|ROTFLMAO||Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off|
|TANSTAAFL||There ain't no such thing as a free lunch|
|TFN||'Til final notice|
|TFTGR||Thank you for the great read!|
|TFTR||Thank you for the read!|
|WTF||What the ****|
|WYOGDS||Write your own goddamned story|
|YMMV||Your mileage may vary|
|mea culpa||my fault|
|en media res||in the middle of the action|
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