Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Manuscript Evening - 16th February, 2015

Elizabeth Allen offered a brief introduction to the challenges and value of effective critique. She gave general guidelines, such as being specific, addressing the text, rather than the writer, and establishing trust by pointing out positives. She also  emphasised the value of the writer deciding on the focus of the discussion and what type of comments would be most helpful.

Four members then presented their work in progress, all of which offered a great variety of approach and provoked a lively discussion on topics and technique. Bill's first short story as a member of HWG was inspired by our first writing exercise of the year in which Eileen gave us a prompt for a story opening, featuring a clock, a hat and a body in a church porch. The story drew on his wartime experiences, and people commented positively on its lucid, pared-back style.  Marcus gave us the opening of a charming novella in an undefined past, featuring a boy who appears seeking sanctuary in a remote, 'ill-fated village'. Members remarked that the opening had the feel of a fairy tale and was far removed from Marcus's usual violent robots! Glyn's chapter was not the opening of his novel but chosen because he was keen for feedback on whether he had been heavy-handed with the symbolism used to construct his creepy, controlling male character: an advocate of Nietzsche, an owner of Doberman Pinschers and a man who keeps finches in cages. The story was set in the 1970s, and there ensued an interesting general discussion on the difficulties of using time-appropriate terms and convincing your readers that these were indeed used in the given period. Members remarked on quality of the writing, and we now have the added intrigue that Glyn's chosen writer's name is a woman's... Our fnal manuscript was from Kate O'Hearn; like her published work to date, it was aimed at a Young Adult readership but went down well with our rather older group of adults. Her concern was with voice: she is not a lover of first person, but, knowing that all the super-successful YA fiction uses that technique, she had reluctantly adopted it for this novel. We all agreed that it was handled very effectively, and we are now much more informed on the nature of incubi and succubi. 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Flash Fiction Entries - 2nd February, 2015

2nd February was the deadline for our first competition of the year: Flash Fiction in exactly 250 words. The tight word count didn't inhibit the variety of approach, and there was a startling range of genres: comedy, drama, tragedy, love, murder, genocide with a variety of protagonists, including Nigerian warlords, holocaust survivors and a coin of the realm. In all, there were 27 entries with 23 being read out on the night.
       In the second half, members were given a scenario: 'A group of writers are in a hotel room reading their work when suddenly the lights go out and they are plunged into darkness. What happens next?' We worked alone or in small groups, and the results revealed some members had been murdered while others had encountered a range of ingeniously construed situations. Most – but not all – had happy endings.