Our first meeting in The Old Deanery was Anne Powell’s adjudication of our Mini-Saga competition, the brief for which was a story told in exactly 50 words (excluding the title). After a general introduction, in which Anne told us how much she’d enjoyed reading the twelve entries, she commented on each in turn. With such a high overall standard and wide variety of themes and styles, picking the winners had been very hard. The results in reverse order were:
Commended: Audrey for ‘Did She Fall or Was She Pushed’ and Joe for ‘How the Recent Floods near Glastonbury in Somerset Destroyed One Woman’s Livelihood.’
3rd: Caroline for ‘Can’t Stand Another Day’.
2nd: Julie for ‘Devious Strategy’.
1st: Cathy with ‘An Unwelcome Discovery’.
After the presentation of the Twinks Perugini Kenyon trophy, there was plenty of time for all the entries to be read out. A break for refreshments followed and then Anne treated us to her own take on Blanche Ingram, a character from Jane Eyre. We were all very impressed to hear that, when entered in a recent Bronte Society competition, Anne’s inspired writing had been commended by Margaret Drabble!
After many productive years at the YMCA, changing circumstances have dictated a move to a more suitable venue. From 24th June 2014 our regular fortnightly meetings will be held in The Old Deanery opposite Ripon Cathedral.
The objective of the all day workshop on Saturday, 17th May was for each of the ten participants to produce an original piece of prose including dialogue. In the first session the group read and discussed some examples of dialogue in plays and prose fiction provided by RWG Secretary Peter Page who was leading the day. The rest of the morning was spent writing and then sharing a piece of pure dialogue, opening with one of the two characters asking ‘Did you bring it?’. The embryo stories which merged were very varied.
After a shared lunch Peter invited two of the other participants to explore through the technique of ‘hot-seating’ one of the characters emerging from their morning writing. This was followed by a session in which each participant wrote a piece of prose fiction incorporating the dialogue they had written in the morning. The day finished with these pieces being read and discussed. All in all it was an interesting and lively day which achieved its objective.
Writing tutor Sue Slocombe gave us a great deal of insight into the importance of dialogue. It should both enliven a narrative and help the reader to a greater knowledge of the characters. Wherever possible, the participants should have distinct voices, thus lessening the need for repeated use of ‘he said/she said’ etc.
Sue encouraged us all to eavesdrop on day to day conversations and observe how speech patterns differ from written English. Grammar rules are often disregarded, sentences incomplete and speakers leave the listener to read between the lines. Vocabulary and idiom vary greatly between the generations and between people from different regions and backgrounds.
As well as aiming for realistic content, it’s also important to be mindful of the rules of punctuation. That said, some of these are debatable nowadays and the house style of different publishers should be borne in mind.
Time permitted only a short writing exercise towards the end of the evening, but we’re regarding Sue’s talk as a curtain raiser to our whole day workshop on dialogue on 17th May. (See the Events Programme for more details.)
Maggie’s new ebook, Easy Money For Writers And Wannabes, a guide to writing ‘fillers’ for magazines and newspapers, is featured in the local paper this week. It currently has the status of an Amazon #1 Best Seller in its category.
Instead of the five objects mentioned in the 2014 programme, we found ourselves with six this evening. Could today’s date have anything to do with that? Anyway, the aim, as ever, is to include each and every one of them in a significant way in a piece of writing for the next meeting. Good luck!
For clarification, the objects are as follows: a cycle helmet, a paint brush, a set of playing cards, a wooden letter opener, a jar of chilli powder and the X-ray of a foot.
The Jack Moss trophy was won this year by Susan Perkins for Nice Cup of Tea? in which she explored the history of our national beverage and appealed for everyone to consider the conditions endured by many tea pickers. Ethically sourced tea is widely available these days from organisations such as the Rain Forest Alliance and under the Fair Trade label.
Adjudicator John Lee, who’d given us an amusing account of his career in education and marvelled at how a retired physicist had been chosen to judge the competition entries,went on to award second place to Phil Cook. Phil’s Down With Holidays, a very tongue in cheek rant about the horrors of planning, preparation and travel, not to mention the frustrations often encountered at holiday destinations, struck a chord with us all.
A more serious piece took third place. Out Of Africa was a memoir by Joe Peters that interwove his own experience of teaching Afrikaaner children in The Hague with the establishment of the apartheid regime and the imprisonment and unexpected but widely acclaimed release many years later of Nelson Mandela.
John said that he had enjoyed reading all fourteen very different entries for the competition and congratulated the Group on the high standard of writing overall.
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