Friday, 15 May 2015

Manuscript Evening - 11th May, 2015

At our second Manuscript Evening of the year, four brave souls brought their work for other members to critique. First up was Jill Fricker with a piece about a poor family struggling to survive in 1830s London. She wanted to know if she'd captured the historical context, if the characters were believable and if the dialogue was authentic. This led to a lively discussion – with much disagreement – before everyone finally concluded that historical fiction needs a good deal of research and hard work. Second was Lucas Howard's start of his 65,000-word novel, a dark comedy called 'The Zed List'. He asked for feedback about voice, tone and flow, and everyone had much to say about the alien world he'd created for the target market of the young gaming community. Musetta Ripamonte was third with a dark, fantasy, written for children, which she'd illustrated herself. Members puzzled over the conundrum of people going into a magical world and then back to the real world and the need to pinpoint an age group for such a genre. Finally was Vicky Armstrong with the beginning of her first novel, the story of a young woman travelling to West Africa after to the war to meet her new husband. Her question was, 'Should I continue?' and the answer was a resounding 'yes' from all of us: everyone was impressed by the writing, which was well-paced and convincing and the subtle build-up of intrigue.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Poetry Results - 27th April, 2015

On 27th April, Antony Mair, poet and leader of the local Stanza group, came to deliver his verdict on our second competition of the year. He spoke eloquently and informatively about poetry: rhyme, rhythm, shape, length of line and intensity of emotion. He said that two disadvantages of starting from a form are that it is difficult to maintain energy if the form becomes a straitjacket and the writer is always in the shadow of the greats. Instead, he recommended starting with a thought and letting the words come naturally before 'versifying' them. He also stressed the need to check every line by asking 'Is it accurate?' 'Is the syntax right?' and 'Does it work?'

In first place was Elizbeth Allen's 'The New Wife', praised for its quiet power and ability to convey so much in a short space. Second was Sally-Ann Clark's intriguing 'Cairn'; third was Liz Caluori's humorous 'A Little Less Conversatio, and in fourth place was John Taylor's atmospheric 'Dungeness'.

We are very grateful to Antony for the depth and detail of both his individual and group feedback, which we all found extremely helpful.