Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Cleckheaton Writers Group 16 March 2015

Inspiring and entertaining CWG meeting this week where M, A, J, N, P, myself (K) and new member M were in attendance, P, L, S and D having passed on their apologies.  We welcomed new member M to the group and introduced ourselves/explained our writing styles/genres.  M likes to write horror and fantasy short stories in the style of Lovecraft and he is trying his hand at a longer story.

Most members had not done any writing since the last meeting, just editing, but M informed the group that she has won another writing competition, Words With Jam, with a flash fiction piece that has a prize of £300 and will be published in an anthology.  There is to be a book launch in Sheffield and all the members agreed to attend if they can when M shares the date.  A revealed that he has been editing his Princess Erica story and hopes to have it at first draft soon.

The feedback sessions were for N, J and A.  We started with A's zombie tale, which P had not seen.  J, M and K had already given their feedback to A, but N agreed with the others that the story was enjoyable, had intrigued the reader and he said it reminded him of Shaun Whittingtons' Snatchers.  The characters had been established well and left the reader with many questions to encourage them to read on.  M agreed that it sets up the characters well and that he would be interested in seeing where it goes and what is coming next.  J discussed disease mechanisms, as the zombie plague could have different stages throughout the novel and be a plot driver.  We look forward to reading more at a later meeting.  (K agreed to email a copy to M)

A is thinking of doing Camp NaNoWriMo in April/June and N agreed that he too would be signing up.  Any members thinking of joining in to email A and N. 

N's piece was also a zombie tale, but a short story rather than the beginning of a novel.  M and K had already given their feedback, but A agreed that he felt it was a great beginning to what he feels could be a longer story.  N explained that he had originally written it for a competition and needed to stick to word count constraints and a deadline, but that he could now expand the piece.  A, who is a former security guard, informed N that a security guard would not carry a truncheon, so the character would need to grab a different blunt instrument to defend himself, maybe a torch?  It was felt that it would be better to hint at the boys relationship with his Dad and that the girl being eaten by her father warranted more than one sentence.  M wondered that if there were riots, would everyone still be shopping and N agreed that he would be editing it back and then building up the action parts.  J recommended a device for explaining why people were still shopping, denial, a hoax etc. (K agreed to email a copy to J and M).

J shared 2 short stories with the group, which K had already given feedback upon.  The 1st was a 400 word flash fiction entitled Bus 41 which members felt was poetic without overdoing it.  A suggested losing either satanic or miasmic in one of the sentences (J opted to keep miasmic).  M revealed that she has sometimes edited 500 word flashes to 250 for competitions and J explained that the story was inspired by when he lived in a bedsit in Archway London in 91.  The 2nd piece was 660 words entitled Wise and Curious.  The members felt that the description in the piece was excellent but J felt he needed to work on plot.  The group disagreed in that they all felt that both stories would work well with others in an anthology, a vignette collection of snapshots of people's lives and the title Urban Mundanity was suggested.  (J agreed to send the 2 pieces to the group).

As there was plenty of time, M shared the piece he had brought along with him (which K had already given feedback upon) entitled The Butchers Boy, a disturbing horror short story.  P loved it as it had plenty of blood, gore, sharp knives and revenge, but she did not like the implication that the character had eaten his father.  J thought it was very well done/written, that the content was the writers own choice and that it flowed well with nice, repetitive motifs (e.g. floppy fish).  He agreed with K that the interrupted thought patterns were an excellent device to build character.  A felt that M should sharpen the inner monologue rather than using italics and J loved the sense of foreboding in the first section.  It was a convincing, corporeal portrait of a damaged psychopath, which implied rather than told (the bird scene in particular) as the butcher had perfected his trade, chopping carcasses quietened his mind and that the compulsion accelerates with an end goal that can never be achieved.  It was agreed by all that the character does not need a name as the interior monologue works well.

For the next feedback session J will send around Chimes (a 1600 word piece) and A will share some work if no-one else asks for the slot.

K told members about the Headingley Literature Festival (review of Yorkshire Noir event on previous blog post) and J informed members about Leeds Writers Circle list of C W competitions (K & J to forward details to members).  P circulated this months' edition of Writing Magazine for the members to look at as it has a list of writing competitions April-December.  J also mentioned that Grist share a lot of writing competitions in their facebook threads.

It was agreed that all the members should forward pieces (up to 5k words each member) to M for consideration in the CWG anthology to be published next year (all stories should be adult and as many pieces as you wish to make up the 5k, but there should be choice of submissions) as she will be judging an anthology competition for Hysteria magazine (flash fiction), so is best placed to judge the quality of our submissions (though someone must be nominated to judge her work for the anthology).

There was enough time for members to take part in a timed writing exercise and the themes were:

Bad opening lines, time, changes, pied piper, generations, treasure and 'at the heart of it'.

Some of the members shared their pieces resulting in a gigglesome end to the meeting.

The next meeting will take place on Monday 30 March 2015, 6-8pm at Cleckheaton Library.

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