Monday, 20 May 2013

Manuscript Evening: 13 May 2013

Give a monkey a typewriter, and in an infinite amount of time, it would produce the complete works of Shakespeare…..a familiar saying, but an alarming notion for us writers. At our meeting on Monday 13 May we had an opportunity to get inside the head of one such monkey, in a fascinating story from new member Mike Rayner.  His story ‘The Creator’ was one of three pieces presented to us at one of our regular Manuscript evenings, where group members critique and discuss their colleagues’ work in progress. We also heard, and discussed, an extract from Eileen Masters’ true-life account of her experiences in Afghanistan. This work is now nearly complete, and we eagerly await its publication.  Our third piece was from Amanda Giles – the opening chapter of her new novel, ’Moondance’, set in the flamboyant performing arts world of the 80’s.  Members value and welcome the feedback on their work they receive at these sessions, although it can be a daunting process for newcomers.
    We also heard that the programme of meetings for the second half of 2013 was ready for issue to members – we have secured the services of a number of new judges for our internal competitions, and the winning play from our playwriting competition is to be performed by the Hastleons in December.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Crime Results with Catherine Smith: 22 April 2013

On Monday 22 April we gathered to hear the results of our most recent competition – writing a short crime story.  Our judge, Catherine Smith, had judged competitions for the group before. She now teaches Creative Writing for New Writing South, based in Brighton, and also for the Arvon Foundation. Catherine told the group that the entries were of a high standard, and that we had some talented writers among our membership. She was impressed with our appetite for bloodthirsty tales! A good crime story needs strong, believable characters, a plot that moves along briskly, and an effective use of setting and location.
     Having commented on all the entries, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses, Catherine singled out three for special commendation: ‘A Respectable Death’, by Stephen Martin, ‘The Silent Assassin’ by Marcus Towner, and ‘A Place of Annihilation’ by Mike Walsh.  She then moved on to the four winners. In fourth place was Eileen Masters with ‘This is where I dies’, a gripping monologue story based on a real Old Bailey case.  John Vallender was third with ‘No comment’, a tightly plotted and gripping account of a domestic murder. In second place was Jill Fricker with ‘Tweeting from Pretoria’, an unusual story set in contemporary South Africa, with overtones of Jack and the Beanstalk.  In first place was Steph Gaunt, with ‘A kitten vanishes’.  Steph’s story was about an older woman, a wronged wife attempting to take revenge on her husband and his new family, and Catherine was impressed with its emotional depth as well as the quality of the writing.
     In addition to the competition results, members were told that the title of the 2013 group animal themed anthology was, by popular vote, ‘Animal Writes’.  Thanks were expressed to Roz Balp, who thought of the idea.