Berkeley Bidness XXVII

Fun fact: On May 18, 1969 Apollo 10 launched toward lunar orbit. We may not be astronauts but we all shoot for the moon in our writing. If you love reading/writing/talking about science fiction and fantasy come on down to our 27th Berkeley meeting!

If you are an author that would like to be read for this meeting, please contact the organizer (Kieran) directly. If you plan to participate, you must RSVP so the organizer can send readings and information via e-mail. We'll be accepting submissions until 5/4/14 so we can send out the readings on 5/5/14 for participants to read.

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  • Bruce S.

    We're getting an open discussion and exchange of ideas on format on this board. If we discuss it at the next meeting, we could amalgamate ideas into two or three proposals and vote.
    We need a balance between efficiently moving to an engaging, positive, core dialogue on a submission, while encouraging all participants to speak to ensure a diversity of opinion. Isn't that the definition of democracy?
    While ego driven conflict is negative, pushing a writer on story, character, etc is essential assistance.
    The group has had high turnover, but in the past few months we've attracted a core of strong critics and writers. Let's sustain that momentum.
    We need a way to deal with meetings of 15-25 people with a lot of newbies, so we don't get bogged down in repetitive sound bites--that turns everyone off.
    Any changes can be experimental and subject to revision, but democratic change is good. I'm for discussing format at the next meeting and voting on a plan.

    May 27, 2014

    • jbeach

      I actually don't think that the current format leads to repetitive soundbites. I also don't think our current discussion method is actually that bad, or that it inhibits an engaging positive core dialogue. That said, of course, I'm open to trying other things. : ) My main concern remains that everyone gets to speak. Not only is this fair to everyone in the group - it's also best for the writer, as it gives the writer a *full* representation of the range of opinions. So, as long as that is retained, I have no objection to trying other things.

      May 28, 2014

  • Glorianne H.

    Okay with me.

    May 28, 2014

  • Glorianne H.

    Good point(s) Bill. It's also the same format used by the writers group in Southern Calif. I belonged to, as well as some other groups I've visited over the years ---none of which were Meetup groups.

    May 24, 2014

  • bill s.

    I've been quiet because it'll sound personal, but I'll use myself as an example - Note that I have halting speech - in a free flowing format I will be a millstone, or lost altogether.
    This is probably not germaine, but this format comes from the Ad Hoc Writers' group, who used it for over twenty years. It may not apply to us, but they had a reason. I suspect that it was to prevent runaways.

    2 · May 23, 2014

  • jbeach

    Here's a thought: how about a hybrid of the two?
    A certain timed amount of free discussion, and then a certain timed amount per others where they each get to speak.
    So, for example, if it's a 2-hour meeting, 12 people ande 2 stories, then 20 minutes of free discussion, 3 minutes each in a round-robin, and the remaining minutes for the write to discuss things further.
    I also do really like the format of the author only responding to specific questions, and not defending the work. That can lead to acrimony, as opposed to reception of opinions.

    1 · May 22, 2014

  • Bruce S.

    We have several ideas on the table.
    1. Open discussion.
    2. Taking turns but allowing the author to respond at any time.
    3. Reading the rules—Kara took the initiative to lay down the law, and we usually don't do that.
    4. Trying out a new format to see if it works.
    I think a discussion on format will be positive. The goal is a deeper dialogue, more time efficiency, and keeping disruptions to a minimum.
    One reason I'm raising this—I think dividing the group in two if a lot of people show up is a bad idea. Everyone participating together bonds people, especially newbies, and creates diversity of views. Dividing the group in two will actually take more time, because one group will finish earlier than the other and that will create dead time. We need a time-efficient format that works.

    May 22, 2014

    • jbeach

      I agree with not dividing up the group. I do think that the current round-robin format has not had time efficiency problems. Last time we went over 3 stories, in a fair amount of depth, and everyone got to speak.

      May 22, 2014

  • Eddie J.

    I would like to have more of an open discussion at some point when going over an author's work. I would love to have that critical debate with my fellow writers over whether a particular image worked, and actually dialogue about differing approaches to narration. I am up for a change. I'm in support of letting the author whose work is getting critiqued to choose the format. Perhaps divvy up the alloted time and let the author decide how he/she wants it spent?

    1 · May 22, 2014

  • Glorianne H.

    There's probably no harm in trying a new approach to see if it works...if not, then go back to the old format, or try something else. But from my experience, there's always going to be an occasional (hopefully small) disruption when people get together in groups. We humans are an imperfect lot...if not, we'd have no plots.

    May 22, 2014

  • Bruce S.

    I'd like to propose an open discussion format for the meetings. Dialogue where all critics can speak and the author respond promotes the free flow of ideas, and moves to the heart of the story quickly. Our current approach, one critic after another, gets static and repetitious—sometimes we misunderstand what the author is trying to do because he/she can't respond, and the open discussion at the end is time-limited or cramped by the existing atmosphere.
    The main problem of open discussion is threat of a disruptive argument. The closest we've come is a recent argument that was not literary but political, on the content of a story and whether it promoted violence toward women. We handled it.
    We have a core of strong critics but we have high turnover, typical for a Meetup, but critique-groups need stability. A new format could help. I propose a discussion and vote at the end of the next meeting.

    1 · May 21, 2014

    • Becca Gomez F.

      Maybe it would be better to just allow authors to interject freely during the critique?

      May 21, 2014

    • Carlos C.

      What if we simply add that the author can reallocate his time by interjecting earlier? I have been at meetings where one reviewer repeatedly echoes the same criticism out of turn. This was negative for everyone else. I thought reading the rules at the last meeting added to the orderliness; I wouldn't scratch them altogether. And you don't want to give an attention lush like me free reign. ;-)

      May 21, 2014

  • Jen

    Good group. It was nice to meet more writers.

    1 · May 19, 2014

  • Laura

    It was fun meeting everyone

    May 19, 2014

  • Glorianne H.

    Fun meeting and all three submissions were excellent! Enjoyed hearing from the new people (hope to see you next meeting), and it's always good to see our regulars. BTW: Jbeach, the next science lecture at Cal is Sat., 6/21 at 11:00 am. You can check their website at: scienceatcal.Berkeley.edu/lectures

    Of course, this note is for anyone else interested too!
    See you all next month.

    May 18, 2014

  • Sean

    Great people and interesting discussion.

    May 18, 2014

  • Tantra B.

    I was hoping I could feel good enough to go, but as it's time for me to set off walking, I have to capitulate. I'd like to email the authors the documents that I wrote suggestions on, though.

    May 18, 2014

  • Lee A.

    Hey everyone, I'm sorry I had to cancel at the last minute. There is a conflict I can't change. I hope you all have an awesome afternoon together!

    May 17, 2014

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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