Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Manuscript Evening - 27th July, 2015

At our manuscript evening on 27 July, four members read out their work and received feedback from the group. First, was Elizabeth Allen with the beginning of the third section of her novel, ‘Laying Ghosts’. She asked members to focus on the voice of the narrator and protagonist. Members were impressed by the style and economy of the writing, which cleverly conveyed setting, period and character and suggested dialogue as a means to make the central character more vivid and to move the plot forward. Second was new member, Chris Curran, with the beginning of her psychological suspense novel, ‘The Stooge’. Everyone found the piece beautifully paced and structured with very convincing but subtle evocation of a 50s seaside pier theatre show and its performers. Marcia Woolf was our third reader with a chapter from her darkly comic novel, ‘Roadkill’. Everyone found the piece entertaining and intriguing and there was a lively discussion on how to convey character through dialogue, particularly when contrasting English with American speech. Last was Bill Petsing with a short story, which focused on romantic and sexual encounters in Second World War London; people enjoyed the authentic voice and the economy of style and discussed the need to keep tenses consistent to avoid confusion. It was an enjoyable evening, and we all benefited from considering the issues raised.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Monologue Entries - 13th July, 2015

On 13 July, members read out their monologues, to be judged by local writer, director and script editor, Christine Harmar-Brown. There were 19 entries in our fourth competition of the year, which ranged from the dark and gritty the to the light and fluffy and which explored a variety of themes, including domestic abuse, heroin addiction and taxidermy. We heard the voices of characters as diverse as an ageing dominatrix called Madame Solitaire and the Madonna. We visited a truck in Calais, the 'Titanic', the pages of Wikipedia and a diary, a villa in the Gulf and contemplated a range of activities, such as school cap wearing, visiting hospital patients, attacks in dark alleys and preparing for Armageddon. It was a dizzying and diverse display of creativity, and we look forward to the judge's feedback on 10 August.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Journalism Results - 29th June, 2015

We were extremely lucky to have the experienced journalist and author, Kathryn Flett, as the judge for our third competition of the year. She gave insightful and useful feedback to everyone, which included such points as: structure, research, opening sentences, writing style and tone, pace, clarity of purpose and target audience, working to tight word counts and deadlines, In addition, she generously gave an honest and revealing account of both her own career and the world of journalism in general. Kathryn then announced the winners: first was Elizabeth Allen's 'A Whole Planet of Possibilities', which was both current and thought-provoking, closely followed by John Taylor's warm-hearted piece with its excellent opening line, 'Claim to Fame'. Third was the well-researched and informative 'On the Trail of Grey Owl' by Diana Lock. Rachel Marsh was fourth with the fresh and well-structured 'Turning a Blind Eye'. In response to questions from the floor, Kathryn gave two invaluable pieces of advice on how to improve as a writer: to be edited by someone who knows what they're doing and to keep exercising your 'writing muscle'. Her new novel, 'Outstanding', published by Quercus, is out this Autumn.