Saturday, 21 March 2015

Flash Fiction Results - 16th March, 2015

On 16th March, our judge, Alexandra Benedict, who writes under the name of A K Benedict, gave her feedback and verdict on our Flash Fiction entries. A possible record of 24 entries of exactly 250 words had been submitted, and Alexandra commented on the quality and interesting range of approaches taken: the humorous, the scary, the touching and the lyrical. Her one piece of advice was that in every story, she felt at least one sentence digressed and distracted the reader from the main thrust of the narrative, and that we should trust our instincts to go with the flow of the story. In first place was Sally-Ann Clark's 'In Perspective', which was praised for its structure and lyricism. Diana Locke came second with 'Missing Baggage', Marcia Woolf third with 'Devotion' and Roz Balp fourth with 'The Green Door'.

In the question and answer session which followed, Alexandra talked of the value of what she had learned from the creative writing courses she had attended at the University of Sussex, of finding an agent and the auction for her first novel. She told us an intriguing tale of the inspiration for this novel, The Beauty of Murder, with its time-travelling serial murderer, in a strange experience while an undergraduate at Cambridge.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Journalism Workshop - 2nd March, 2015

A lively and informative workshop, led by experienced journalist Emma Boyde, offered a strong foundation for entries for our journalism competition. She explained the different structures required by a both news story and of a feature. A news story is often drawn as an inverted pyramid, which has the meat (who, what, when) in the opening paragraph with following paragraphs having progressively less crucial information, so that sub-editors under pressure can cut from the bottom without loss of meaning. In a feature, the introduction often takes an individual instance, then moves onto the core arguments, ending either with reference to ‘expert opinion’ on the subject or a return to the individual.

Emma then provided us with examples of a range of journalistic models: a piece of news analysis, a theatre review, a blog which went viral – and a piece by our judge for this competition, Kathryn Flett. She encouraged us to examine these in terms of structure and the use, or otherwise, of the first person. Feedback from this exercise involved some lively discussion of the merits and demerits of journalism and its function in the age of social media. Emma suggested that there remains a vital role for traditional journalism which uses proper fact checking as against the unknown reliability of social media. She talked about so-called ‘balance’ in a story as a misguided ideal because bias is inevitable, and a ‘balanced’ story would be, at best, 80:20. Our practical exercise was then to interview a partner, to write up the interview, incorporating a quotation, and for the interviewee to assess accuracy.