Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Cleckheaton Writers Group minutes 21 March 2016

There was an excellent meeting of the Cleckheaton Writers Group last night where Sarah, Kathy, Martijn, Andy, John R and myself were in attendance, Mandy and John L having passed on their apologies.

The minutes from the last meeting were passed and we each gave our work in progress update: Sarah has been editing her second draft, three chapters, following a creative writing book and doing exercises on character development, as well as two short story ideas she has been playing about with; Kathy has been working on a new short story with a twist which she brought for feedback; Martijn has been world-building for a new idea and is up to 12/13k words, he also brought some along for critiquing; Andy is pre-writing for his April Camp NaNoWriMo; John R has been continuing to pre-write/plot plan his novel and I have been editing my YA novel and I brought my flash fiction for critique/feedback.

Martijn kicked off the feedback sessions with his introduction (the world-building) and first chapter.  He received some good feedback from his beta reader and the members were really pulled in by his world-building.  The characters were clearly drawn, but some of the members thought the physical description worked better for the Mum character than for the daughter.  It was suggested that the '-ly' words were not needed and one of the group thought that although it was a good opening, it felt very reminiscent of current YA dystopian world tropes, though it could be that Martijn is setting this up to subvert it as this is a dark novel for adults.  This led on to a discussion about the world-building workshop that Ian C Douglas ran as part of the Cleckheaton Literature Festival (CLF) 2015.  He showed the slide print-out to the three new members and agreed to send them to all the CWG members that would like them.  I informed the group that Ian C Douglas is running an advanced world-building workshop and a YA workshop at the CLF this year (Sunday 24 April 10-12 and 1-3 respectively) and there are several other creative writing workshops, including a FREE one by Threshold on the afternoon of Thursday 28 April, for full details of all the workshops and other events, see: www.ticketsource.co.uk/cleckheatonliteraturefestival).

This then led to a very fascinating conversation about world-building and plot-planning, where each member shared their experiences.

I then shared my flash fiction piece with a twist which was very well received, but everyone agreed with me that it needed a better title.  It was suggested that I choose a noun and a verb together, preferably ones used in the story, as a title.

Kathy then shared her short story with a twist, 'Love letters' and it was agreed by all members that she has a clear voice that is Alan Bennett-esque and that her short stories display excellent use of the first person point of view.

I informed Kathy about the characterisation workshop that I attended, where Simon Crump recommended putting together several short stories to make a composite novel and that I thought if she did these with her short stories (putting the 12 dates of Chris Moss interspersed within) that this would be a good way for her to produce a novel without it seeming too daunting should she want to.  Some of the other members thought that this was a great idea as it made the idea of writing so many words less scary.

We then spoke about current and upcoming Festivals including Headlingley Big Bookend, Trinity and York.

I told members that there is also a crime writing residential in May featuring Alison Taft and Michael Fowler (Full details: Residential Writing Course, High Melton, South Yorkshire, Tuesday 31st May - Thursday 2nd June 2016.
The three day event will be centred on a real-time murder incident, with professional input on how a murder is investigated and how a crime scene is analysed. Workshops will include developing plot and character, creating dramatic tension to keep the reader turning the pages, and writing a compelling opening chapter. Students will also have the opportunity to have one-to-one sessions with the writers and will be able to pitch their work. Writers of the three most compelling manuscripts will have the opportunity to submit their manuscript to Caffeine Nights, one of the top independent publishers of British crime and horror.
Last year's course was very successful and some of the writers attending are on their way to publication.
For booking information, e-mail Michael Fowler via http://www.mjfowler.co.uk/news-events/) coming up and
there is also one with Alison Taft and Anna Turner on 20-22 May: http://yh.wea.org.uk/courses/residential-courses.

Members then discussed current writing competitions including the Bath novel award (deadline 10 April), the Daily Mail first novel competition, Good Housekeeping and the Richard/Judy competition, though it was felt that the conditions of the latter competition made it too restricting.

We then discussed the idea of producing an anthology for the CWG group members and it was suggested that the theme be 'Viewpoint.'  As this had been muted before, an anthology not the theme, it was agreed that all members must produce and send their 5-6k words (which do not have to be all one story) with alternative choices to CWG member Mandy by October for this to be possible for production by CLF2017.

The next meeting will take place on Monday 4 April 2016 at 6-8pm in Cleckheaton Library.

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