Artistic Licence Competition

Graham Chalmers

Graham Chalmers, Weekend Editor of the Ripon Gazette and its sister papers, adjudicated for us for the first time. After giving considerable insight into his journalistic background and approach to judging, he provided valuable feedback on each of the twelve entries.

The winner of the competition was Lindsay Trenholme with ‘The Rose of York’, an imaginative story with a background of intrigue at the court of Henry VII. Peter Page’s ‘The Art Show’, inspired by visits to a couple of local shows and the nursery rhyme ‘Little Miss Muffet’, came second. Eileen Walters was third with ‘Portrait of a Tree’, the tree in question being one which meant a great deal more to her than to the neighbour who owned it.

Graham also commended Susan Perkins for ‘My Enlightenment’ and Cathy Grimmer for ‘A Fair Bargain’.

Following the presentation of the trophy, all five of the above members read out their entries.

A talk on Wilfrid Owen

Roger Kendall

We were delighted to be given the opportunity to share Dr Roger Kendall’s insights into the short life of Wilfrid Owen; in particular the months he spent in Ripon in 1918, where he celebrated his 25th and final birthday. Whilst based at the nearby army camp, the young poet rented a room in a cottage in Borrage Lane and took advantage of its quiet location to write many of his best known works. These included A Tear Song, School Mistress, Arms and the Boy, Futility, Mental Cases and The Send-off, all of which Roger read to us, making frequent reference to local sources of information that he had discovered during the course of his research.

The question and answer session which followed Roger’s talk provoked a lively discussion. Topics covered included the influence of Siegfried Sassoon, Owen’s relationship with his Welsh mother and the fact that most of his poems were published after his death. We could only speculate sadly on what might have been achieved if Wilfrid Owen had not been killed just one week before the Armistice.

Swanwick 2014


The annual summer school known affectionately to writers all over the world just as ‘Swanwick’, the Derbyshire village which is home to The Hayes Conference Centre, has attracted many of our members during its 66 years. To discover why, click on the link to the right.

Swanwick lake

Cathy Grimmer and Maggie Cobbett, regular attenders, always opt for rooms in Lakeside – and yes, there really is a lake – and aim to make the most of the literary, networking and social opportunities on offer.

Swanwick prizewinners by Bruce

Maggie was happy to be once again amongst the prizewinners, but this was definitely Cathy’s year.

Swanwick Cathy singing

Not only did she sing beautifully at Buskers’ Night…

Swanwick Cathy's play

… and perform so well in her own play Requiem that she was voted Best Actress, but she has also been elected onto next year’s Swanwick committee. Well done, Cathy! You did us proud.

Mini-Saga Competition

RWG Mini-Saga competition 2014 winner

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!

We’re on the move!

Old Deanery

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.

Workshop On Dialogue

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.

Good dialogue speaks volumes!

Sue Slocombe

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.)

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Our friendly group meets once a fortnight in the Old Deanery on Minstergate, opposite Ripon Cathedral and is always open to new members from the Ripon area and beyond. Whether your interest is in poetry or prose, novels, short stories, plays, wacky humour, a more analytical style of writing, or just listening for the time being, you're very welcome.

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