Tuesday, 14 April 2015

An Evening With Our Patron - 14th April,2015

On Monday 14th April, the group's patron, best-selling author, Tamara McKinley gave generously of her time, advice and experience in a talk entitled 'From Idea to Novel in 4 Months'. With wit, warmth and honesty she talked of the writing process in general with realistic reference to the world of publishing in particular. She showed us the cover of her own recently completed novel, 'Echoes From Afar', to inspire us. She then led us through her own process, starting with the fleshing out of characters, how to research setting and time, emphasising the need for real passion about the story to be told. She talked about her own joy in playing the 'What If' game, i.e. putting her characters in certain situations and seeing how they act, which for her is all-consuming. She then focused on structure, saying that every conversation and scene has to move the plot forward, with the conflict being established in the first line and hooks being distributed throughout to keep the reader engrossed. Tamara then suggested how to organise both the novel's chapters and our writing time and how to produce both a short and long synopsis. Finally, she gave us practical tips on editing and on how to present our work to publishers and agents. However, it has to be remembered that Tamara is herself 'a lot to live up to' as she is extremely prolific and also writes under the name of Ellie Dean and sometimes has more than one book and one writing persona on the go at the same time! We were all extremely grateful to her for taking time out of her incredibly busy writing schedule to come and spur us on.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Poetry Entries - 30th March, 2015

Our poetry evening started with Jill Fricker reading her poem, 'The Cordwainer's Son', which came second in the 2015 Four Counties Poetry Competition. Members then read out their own entries for our second HWG competition of the year - as well as those submitted by members who were not able to attend. There were nineteen poems in all, their subject matter ranging from family relationships -  passionate, tender or angry - through landscape and seascape to the secret life of an X-ray particle. Some were light and witty, some tender, some following tight structures, others more loosely organised. In the second half, Eileen set us a writing exercise: we were encouraged to use a verse form, but she kindly allowed those of us who found this rather too challenging to relapse into prose. So, required to imagine ourselves in Sainsbury’s, having just suffered or welcomed some life-changing event, we broke down, shop-lifted and wreaked havoc - sometimes in rhyming couplets.