Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cleckheaton Writers Group (CWG) meeting 24 November 2014

Another constructive and enjoyable meeting of the CWG yesterday evening where N, S, A, K and myself were in attendance, P, P, M, L and D having passed on their apologies.

The three members of the group that had entered the This Morning competition reported that they had heard nothing, so assumed that they had been unsuccessful.  We then we discussed our WIP since the last meeting.  N had been working on his entry for the This Morning competition/his NaNoWriMo challenge, which he had shared with the group for the feedback session.  A had been editing and has heard from 1 of the 5 agents he sent his manuscript BT to, sadly it was a rejection but there are still 4 agents left.  He has also been working on his WIP V for NaNoWriMo and is at 39,758 words.  S has been researching and K said that she had started to read all her old stuff from 3 years ago and this had encouraged her to start work on writing 1 of them again.

S shared a piece of advice with the group that he had been given when he asked Julian Fellowes what was the best piece of advice he would give to new writers - Never respond to your feedback as soon as you've got it.  It is always best to sit on it and come back to it when you have had time to ruminate on it and see it as less of a personal attack and more as constructive criticism.

A felt that Scrivener had helped him with his outline but S said that he does this first (the outline), so that he has a framework to work to and a commission piece would have to have parameters.

We then got to N's feedback session of the beginning of his new crime novel that he entered into the This Morning competition and all the members agreed that he has the start of something good.  A wanted to know if Port Lee was a fictional place, which it was and I said that I liked the hints to romance.  We agreed that the piece was intriguing with well placed hints and S felt that it was right on target genre/audience/opening wise.  He felt that he needed to know more about the main character's (MC) flaw without explaining it too much too soon and all the members agreed that the hole in the MC's life was a good way to pull the reader in.  S suggested that N applied the three act structure to scenes, not just the whole thing.  He feels that the phone call is the point of no return and that it would really improve the read if N didn't reveal that the MC was a cop straight away and that this would show that he had to manage his grief in the real world.  The refusal would be to show him having to cover up the fact that he has to manage his grief in the real world (e.g. how is he hiding it from his colleagues?) and the twist is that he's actually a cop and has to investigate a big brutal murder, so the reader will wonder, is he going to mess up the crime scene due to his emotional baggage?  All the members recommended that N keep going with the writing rather than editing it as he goes along.

S then gave his next workshop in his series of workshops, this time on the one-page outline format for submission of concepts.  We discussed the objective and subjective storyline using Lethal Weapon as an example, the objective is to get the drug lords and the subjective is that he has to forgive himself and get over the death of his wife.

K had brought what she thought was the three act structure and sequences to The Simpsons movie as an example to work from.  It is an ensemble and Homer is the antagonist but then becomes the hero at the end.  The real world is the pre-dome (sinkhole).  Second act, 20 minutes in, the inciting incident is Homer's silo.  The low point is the bomb about to go off and his family that don't want to know him captured. He takes the bomb and then when it goes off outside the dome, this is the false resolution, when he gets his family back that is the resolution.  The film has a dodgy first half as Homer does not drive the action.  K admitted that she had watched the film on an I Pad so she could pause and check the timings (so to do so properly, watch on an I Pad or a Tablet etc.).

S then shared a one-page outline format for submission of concepts hand-out with the members as he believes that if you have these beats in a story, these beats transfer to all of these, e.g. The Usual Suspects or 12 page is a large treatment, page for each sequence.  This shows the people that if you can do it in a paragraph.  A log-line is 1 to 2 sentences to sum up the essence of the story in an intriguing way.  The story synopsis is the inciting incident and then the key bits after.  The visual realisation e.g. filmed as if you are in a machine (The Matrix), utopian or dystopian future.  The statement of intent is why you want to make it/what attracted you to it/why do you want to do it?  The target audience/audience appeal is the how/why are you going to get bums on seats/sell this?

S suggested analysing a film script you like and take it and apply it to your stuff (e.g. Hot Fuzz, Jaws).  An imbalance story - the character gets what he needs but not what he wants (e.g. Tootsie) and an Outer-balance story - the character gets what he wants but not what he needs.

The members then discussed what they did for a living and the meeting finished with S sharing Robert McKee's, the lecturer on screenwriting, Ten Commandments:

1)  Thou shalt not take the crisis/climax out of the protagonists hands
2)  Thou shalt not make life easy for the protagonist
3)  Thou shalt not give exposition for exposition's sake
4)  Thou shalt not use false mystery or cheap surprise
5)  Thou shalt respect your audience
6)  Thou shalt know your world as God knows this one
7)  Thou shalt not complicate when complexity is better
8)  Thou shalt seek the end of the line
9)  Thou shalt not write on the nose
10) Thou shalt rewrite.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday 8 December 6-8pm at Cleckheaton Library, where both of the feedback slots are available.

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