My Odyssey Workshop Experience: The Critiques

For Odyssey, each student had to turn in six stories. Four of them are for in-class and two are for private critiques with a guest.

The in-class critiques are done in a typical manner: round-robin, each person given a limited time to speak their thoughts on the piece, starting with positives, the author remaining silent until the very end.

One of the mantras for any critique circle or workshop is that what is said during critique remains in the critique. We didn’t discuss stories outside of the critique time except to ask what an author might be planning to do with it or something else similarly innocuous. And I’m certainly not going to discuss what was talked about here.

That being said, I do want to put down a few memories of these six weeks.

For our first two in-class critiques, we received little gifts to open afterward. This was my first, that I forgot to open after my critique XD

Because we were doing things virtually, we had deadlines early morning (at least for me, some people were outside of the time zone) before lecture started to mimic the turning in of our stories in class. We had to save and upload our final draft on a board so that all other students could download the stories. These deadlines happened approximately six times during the six weeks (a few people had to send their first sub before the workshop began) so the deadlines were staggered so only 2-3 people had to do a turn-in each day.

We also had a similar deadline each morning for our due critiques. These would be the stories with our documented notes and thoughts. We would upload our critiques as a response to the author’s story, many of us saying something positive in the comment section.

Some ingenious people though would use that comment section to have a little fun! They’d type out a general synopsis using emojis to depict all the different elements in the story. Like little mini-emoji stories.

One person, near the end of the workshop and after they’d turned in their last story, even went and crafted a t-shirt design to represent a school/university from someone’s story.

At the end of each of story critique (after we’d gone completely “around the room”) we began clapping for the person as a way to show appreciation for the stress they’d gone through and the effort put into the story. However, because we were muted and couldn’t unmute ourselves, this meant that it was silent clapping. One of our guest lecturers said something along the lines of “Oh, yes, we’re doing creepy silent clapping. Great.” XD

The critique round robin was also (if I’m remembering correctly) where our 2020 Odyssey motto come from: “These words were viscerally vexing!” [attributed to Francesca]. We ended up with shirts that say “Viscerally Vexing,” which will probably mean anyone who sees them will think we, as people, are vexing, rather than the words in our stories XD But now you’re inducted into the secret society who knows about this phrase! So if you ever see me at a con, just reference this phrase if you want an icebreaker to talk :)

<3 Marie C.

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