We invited Steve Toase to lead our workshop this year, which took place at the newly refurbished St Wilfrid’s Community Centre. The morning was given over to flash fiction, one of Steve’s specialities, and he gave us plenty of inspiration for a series of writing exercises.
After a buffet lunch, Steve turned to the dark side and we enjoyed responding to different stimuli in order to produce edgier work. Steve was at pains to stress that dark tales don’t have to be set in conventionally sinister surroundings. A sunny pastoral scene can hold quite as much horror. Heads buzzing with ideas, we all felt that it had been a very worthwhile day.
Better late than never! Lindsay received her trophy (see below) from Sheila.
Unfortunately, Lindsay Trenholme wasn’t present this evening to receive the trophy for her winning story, Openings. Adjudicator Gary Booth is pictured here with Susan Perkins, who came second. Also in the photograph and in joint third place are Janet Barclay with Sunday Treat and Joe Peters with Into A New World.
In welcoming Gary, Sheila recalled the helpful and encouraging comments he had made the last time he adjudicated for us, particularly about the importance for a writer immediately to capture the interest of the reader.
On this occasion, Gary began by saying that currently his main private reading was of non-fiction, but in the past he had enjoyed many short stories and was glad to immerse himself in them again, even though nowadays they had become the Cinderella of fiction. He had had to ask himself: What is a short story? What makes a good one? Besides the more mechanical elements of punctuation and the structure of sentences and paragraphs, important features usually involved the inclusion of only a small number of characters; some dialogue; the setting; and the knowledge that something will happen, so that the story builds up to its ending. A “moment of change” was often regarded as vital.
However, it was perfectly possible for good stories to lack some of those features, provided the writer found the right mix for the particular subject matter and achieved the right tone for the story overall and made the reader want to read it. Success could be achieved by exploring and revealing human nature or illuminating something ordinary in a different way.
Gary then handed out a brief summary sheet of the 15 competition entries and went on to comment on each, having attached his personal observations to each individual story. He said that he had enjoyed all of the stories and found them to be of a uniformly high standard. Adjudication had thus been a difficult matter, but after several readings he found that the winning entry and the runner-up were clearly in his mind. He had more difficulty in choosing between two stories for third place, so declared them jointly successful.
Susan then read her story in which various sources allow the reader to piece together the poignant history of an elderly man as he settles into a care home.
Sheila expressed the Group’s warm thanks to Gary for an enjoyable and instructive adjudication.
Former member Eric Cropper has died peacefully at home in Kirkby Malzeard, his devoted daughter Jeni by his side. He was 93 years old.
Longer standing members of RWG will always remember Eric with great affection for the wit and wisdom he brought to our meetings. A gifted writer himself, he was a fountain of knowledge on many subjects.
Eric’s funeral will take place at 11.40 on 19th April at Stonefall Cemetery, Harrogate. Donations to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Several RWG members have a foot in more than one literary camp and here is Maggie Cobbett reading from her Anyone For Murder? collection at the York Writers’ Showcase. This was as part of the York Literature Festival HUB programme, a series of free events centred around York Theatre Royal.
The 2017 workshop will run from 10-4 on Saturday, 13th May at St Wilfrid’s Community Centre, Trinity Lane, Ripon HG4 2AB. The cost for the day will be £15 and participants are requested to bring a contribution to the shared lunch.
Tutor Steve Toase has suggested the following interpretation of the workshop title:two hours based around writing flash fiction, followed by building on it with horror/dark fiction themes in the afternoon.
Visitors from neighbouring writers’ groups and U3A members are warmly invited to join us. Please email our Secretary with your contact details and for joining instructions. The venue isn’t easy to find if you’re unfamiliar with Ripon.