... authors are assembled to review the work of
a colleague. Just as the symmetry and geometry of
an office space of set of buildings can thwart or
support "what happens there," so can the simple
organization of room furniture. How should a
WritersWorkshop room be laid out?
* * *A WritersWorkshop is a community of trust andsupport, and the room structure should reflect that.Most meeting rooms are set up with tables and chairs.The tables help people take notes, provide a placefor beverages, and support those who sag as themeeting drags on.However, tables also provide a shield to hide behind.While the presenter may feel vulnerable at the frontof the room, the rest of the attendees feel shieldedbehind the sturdy ramparts of the meeting room tables,which are rarely flimsy card-table affairs,but formidable hardwood structures.It is convenient to hide behind them.Yet, in a WritersWorkshop, we want to make theauthor feel comfortable, as if the reviewersare not attacking from behind defenced bullwarks.Therefore:Seat the reviewers in a circle. Both the author andmoderator form part of the circle; the structure isfully egalitarian. Don't use tables: all participantsshould present an equally vulnerable (orsupportive) face to the circle as a whole.
Beverages can go on the floor. Except for the author,
who may wish to bring a clipboard to take notes, few of
the participants should be writing during the review.
* * *
The author may stand in place for AuthorReadsTheWork
or, if the author is so inclined, may move to the
center of the circle.
During the review proper, when the author is a
FlyOnTheWall, it is sometimes customary for the
author to move outside the circle.
Because authors form the community of trust, they
might form their own AuthorsCircle inside the circle
of observers, in fishbowl style.
-- JimCoplien 1996/8/26
[ WritersWorkshopPatterns | AuthorsCircle ]