Short Story Competition 2017

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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.

R.I.P. Group Captain (retired) Eric Cropper

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.

An RWG member spreads her wings

Maggie reading at YLF2017

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.

Ian Gouge

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Workshop: The Dark Side

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.

Poetry Adjudication by Andy Croft

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Andy began by saying that in general he despised poetry competitions because he felt that they are the antithesis of what poetry is all about. However he said that the entries in this competition felt as though they had come from a group that worked together. Particular features of the collection of entries that he liked were:
• The high craft level
• The plain language
• The use in many entries of binary organisation
• The use of alliteration
• The use of half rhymes and exact metre

Andy then went on to give his extensive comments on the thirteen individual entries before announcing the winners in reverse order as follows:
• 3rd – Susan Perkins – ‘Photophobia’ – a poem leading to the conclusion that nature as we see it is not nature
• 2nd – Phil Cook – ‘Where the North Wind Blows’ – a poem paralleling the effects of the Mistral and the effects of a new love
• 1st – David McAndrew – ‘Fixing a Memory’ – a reflection on the process of fixing a memory

Andy presented David with the trophy.

After the tea break the winners read their poems. There was then time for the following further entries to be read:
• Peter H – ‘Fiery Fantasies’ – memories of the days of coal fires and reflections on benign fires in earlier times
• Anna – ‘The Meadow’ – a poem written for friend who wanted to make a film about his meadow – describing the cycle of the meadow’s day
• Malcolm – ‘Jim’ – a fact based poem (almost a eulogy) dealing with memories of a deceased racing friend (read by Phil)
• Elizabeth S – ‘Legacy’ – a poem about the hidden legacy of a tree whose heartwood becomes the raw material for a violin maker

Sheila then invited Andy to read from his own work. He chose to read an extract from ‘Letter IV’ the latest instalment of a series of verse letters to the deceased poet Randall Swingler using a verse form derived from ‘Don Juan’. This letter updated Swingler on what is happening in the world, in particular the rising hatred of those outside the tribe (Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, etc.).

Eileen Walters

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Talented writer and artist Eileen Walters was one of our longest standing members and will be very much missed. A byword for kindness and generosity, Eileen was also a gracious hostess in whose lovely home and garden we have enjoyed many a cheerful gathering.

RWG is just one of several local organisations of which Eileen was a keen member and it would have come as no surprise to anyone who knew her that Allhallowgate Methodist Church was packed out this afternoon. The Service of Thanksgiving for a long life well lived featured readings and hymns that Eileen had chosen herself during her final illness and touching tributes from her family. To them we offer our deepest condolences and assurance that she will not be forgotten.

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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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