for Discussing Books
The World Wide Web gives us the chance
to talk about subjects we all love--in our case, feminist sf/fantasy.
But as with any communications medium, miscommunication often takes place
which leads to anger and frustration.
The list of suggestions for the book
discussion group below are just that: suggestions. I have taken some
of the ideas that I've found useful in teaching writing and melded them
with ideas developed by the BDG volunteers for list discussions.
My suggestions are based on works by Peter Elbow and Orson Scott Card.
Our goal is to make book discussions
more effective and to spend less time in miscommunications and misunderstandings!
These suggestions have kindly been provided
by Robin Reid.
Assume the author is listening even if s/he's not visibly present on the
list. Authors appreciate reader responses and constructive feedback, but not personal attacks (see #2/c/d below).
Give "reader-based" feedback. You can describe what you see/understand
as a reader; you cannot know for sure what the writer 'intended.'
You can write reader-based feedback by doing the following:
what you are 'reading' or the process of your reading. What is happening to you as you read?
the writing; describe your understanding of what it says or what
- FOCUS on
the book, not the "author." NEVER assume any character in the book reflects the writer's personal
perspective or beliefs, although you might explain why you think a character reflects something about the author. A book is NOT a person, and trying
to guess at the writer's "intent" from a fictional text is an exercise in futility.
- DO UNTO OTHERS.....don't
write or say anything to somebody that you would hate to have written or said to you. This suggestion does NOT
mean you only have to say "nicey-nice" things about the work--it means you
phrase your comments to be constructive. If something didn't work
or confuses you, try to explain why.
The list and BDG focus is "feminist" sf/f.
Sometimes people waste time arguing about what "feminism" means (as if it can mean one thing). Maybe
we can agree that think that various books have different feminist elements, ideas, philosophies, characters,
etc. Why not identify what elements
of the book you see as feminist rather than assuming there are only
two possible positions (FEMINIST/NOT FEMINIST) for a book.