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It isn’t a real writing class until somebody condescendingly quotes Chaucer to you.

The 5 Worst People in Every College Writing Workshop

Character Workshop

It isn’t a real writing class until somebody condescendingly quotes Chaucer to you.

By Heather Ware, Bowling Green State University


Whether you’re an up and coming Creative Writing major or just looking for an arts and humanities credit, there is a good chance that you will end up taking a workshop course at some point in your college career.

Regardless of whether you prefer fiction or poetry, you can be sure that your workshop will be filled with people eager to show off their literary “talents.”

Below are the five types of people that you will be forced to suffer through in your workshop course.

1. Edgar Allen Poe the 2nd

This writer likes to say that they have a “a dark, artistic soul,” but your class will more accurately describe it as a “pathological need for attention.”

The 5 Worst People in Every College Writing Workshop
Guy Maddin (Image via Jonathan Ball)

When introducing themselves to the class, their fun fact will be that their favorite book is “Jane Eyre,” and they will spend the next ten minutes telling you about how Bertha Mason is actually a vampire. Be ready for some heavy-handed metaphors and no less than eight comparisons between life/death and fire/ice throughout the semester.

Poe the 2nd will typically go for the shock factor to “freak out” their readers, so you can expect frequent examples of cannibalism and suffering children. Most of their work will look like if Charles Manson directed “Game of Thrones,” but thankfully this will have no effect on the amount of rape scenes.

2. The Recycler

The magical thing about the Recycler is that they don’t intend to be terrible, but they still make you want to bang your head into a nice, sturdy wall of 18th century brick. The Recycler has had the same story since freshman year and, despite numerous critiques, has always “respectfully disagreed” and never changed a single thing. When the time comes to critique their work, they will nod along understandingly with your comments, but will diplomatically inform you that you just don’t “get it.”

The Recycler will inevitably appeal the C- they receive in the course for never making any changes to their work, and will insist to the professor that they never received any “helpful” suggestions for revision. The C- will stand, and you will read the same story in next semester’s workshop.

3. The Grammar Snob

The Grammar Snob is usually not any sort of English major, but they certainly took everything that they learned in Writing 101 to heart. When handed a story with half a dozen plot holes, no sense of characterization and a theme that is murky at best, the Grammar Snob will hand back the draft with nothing but “comma splice,” “sentence fragment” and “you can’t start a sentence with but” written all along the margins in red ink.

About halfway through the semester, they will send out a class-wide email sincerely encouraging everyone to look at the grammar of their piece when it comes around for critique, because this workshop seems oddly focused on content for some reason.

The Grammar Snob will be ignored, as is the natural order of things.

When you finally receive their work, it will be an impeccably formatted story with no typos and beautifully structured sentences. The story will also make about as much sense as “The Box,” and you will spend the rest of the semester wondering how the baby was the killer all along.

4. The Slacker

The Slacker lacks both time management skills as well as any sort of motivation for the workshop. Each piece will be completed about 30 minutes before the start of class, if at all, and will be filled with typos that make it essentially unreadable.

The 5 Worst People in Every College Writing Workshop
Image via incolors.com

The Slacker will appear to take thoughtful notes about your critiques, but upon closer inspection you will find that they are actually just doodling a picture of a hamster.

With no commentary to base revision upon, the Slacker will simply rewrite their story entirely: a feat that will take no more than 1 hour. The professor will hand back their final draft with the comment “I could barely read this, but the hamster on page seven was lovely.”

5. The Meninist

You’ll find the Meninist to be both the most despised and most oblivious person that you will endure in your workshop. They will have exactly one female character per story. She will be white, an offhand comment will be made about her breasts and she will be spunky enough to get in a few good lines, but not so domineering as to take power away from the, also white, male protagonist. In short, she will look like this.

Each piece will also feature a graphic rape scene, but the Meninist will never quite understand why all the women in the room look uncomfortable while discussing it. The Meninist will preface every statement with “Well, in my opinion,” regardless of the fact that the class stopped caring about their opinion after the first day.

Despite these being their largest critiques, the Meninist will scoff at claims of “misogyny” or “blatant assholitude” in their work. The class will be unsurprised when the Meninist wears their “Make America Great Again” hat, backwards, on their workshop date.

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