Focus on Fillers

Our Chairman gave an illustrated talk based on her long experience of writing ‘fillers’ for a wide variety of publications. Originally odd little bits and pieces used to fill spaces between main articles, these have taken on a life of their own and can be a very useful source of additional income for writers.

Maggie’s little handbook, pictured above, was offered at cost to members not already in possession of a copy.

Change of venue for 7th June

There is a one-off change of venue for the Group’s next meeting which will be held at the Workhouse Museum, Allhallowgate at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 7th June. The theme for the evening will be ‘Fairy Tales’ or ‘Dreams’ and there will also be an opportunity for those attending to view the exhibition prepared by museum volunteer and Group member Solvig Choi.



Our popular ‘six objects in search of a story’ is scheduled for Tuesday, 24th May and here is this year’s selection. The task is to incorporate ALL SIX into a piece of creative writing. Good luck!

A Charity Initiative by our Chairman

Maggie is very grateful to Tim Flanagan, Ripon correspondent for the Stray Ferret. for this boost to her charity appeal.

Short Story Adjudication with Andy Croft

We were delighted to welcome writer, editor and poet Andy Croft to be our adjudicator this time round. Despite admitting that he doesn’t write short stories himself, Andy had obviously read a great many in the past and he treated us to a detailed analysis of the eight entries.

Secretary Peter Page received the trophy for ‘Inciting Incident’, a story of flirtation between a woman who thinks her husband is having an affair and a widower she meets on an Arvon playwriting course at The Hurst in Shropshire. (The title is a playwriting term.). Sheila Whitfield’s ‘Hat Tricks’, a story about a 57 year old loner who surprises himself by coming to the aid of a woman whose carrier bag fails in a supermarket car park, was in second place. The title refers to the fact that the protagonist often feels that he is wearing the wrong hat. Third was ‘Fisherman’s Tale’ by Denis Whitaker. A retired fisherman sitting on the harbour wall tells anyone who will listen about his possible encounters with a mermaid. The end of the story implies that the fisherman went to join the sea people after telling his tales for the last time.

After a break for refreshments, the three winners read their stories. Other entries will be given priority at our next Members’ Manuscripts meeting, which will also feature a book sale.

Poetry Adjudication with Paul Mills

As a prelude to his adjudication, Paul spoke to us about his own wide-ranging writing, which includes two books on creative writing. He then went on to ask if writing poetry was different from other writing forms. Does it use a different part of the brain or is it so focused that it blots out other things? He said that writing poetry involves concentration, imagination and something which acts as a prompt. In addition he stressed the importance of reading other people’s work to sharpen one’s mind. A wide discussion of what makes a piece of writing a poem followed, touching on punctuation amongst other things.

When Paul turned to what he was looking for in a poem he emphasised that there were many different ways of writing one, but that the result should hold the reader’s attention – the reader should not feel that he is wasting his time. There are no hard and fast rules about form or subject or rhyme. However, the poem must mean something to the writer as well as to the reader.

Turning to the individual competition entries it was agreed to follow Paul’s suggestion that the writers should read their work before he gave his comments so that the comments meant something to the others present. The poems read were:
• Susan – ‘Going Downhill on a Bicycle’ – a poem supposed to have been written by a character from her recent novel
• Maggie – ‘The Last Amen’ – a lament for ‘the one who got away’
• Denis – ‘Dusk to Dawn’ – a poem inspired by a blind girl and looking at how senses can become sharpened
• Ros – ‘Living in Denial’ – a very personal poem about climate change
• Sheila – ‘The Enchantment of Birdsong’ – a poem inspired by hearing a song thrush while out walking
• Carol – ‘Not April but February Mr T S Eliot’ – a poem disputing the opening lines of Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland
• Peter – ‘The Naming of Books’ – a parody of ‘The Naming of Cats’ from ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’

The authors of the remaining three entries were not present so their entries were held over.

Paul then proceeded to announce his choice of winners as follows:
• 1st – Susan Perkins with ‘Going Downhill on a Bicycle’
• 2nd – Ros Swaney with ‘Living in Denial’
• 3rd – Lindsay Trenholme with ‘The Power of Words’

Susan was presented with the trophy.

Maggie thanked Paul for his adjudication and invited him to read a selection of his own poems. These included ‘General Swim’ (about Ripon Spa Baths) and ‘Saturday Bells’ (about wedding bells at Ripon Cathedral) from his published collection ‘Voting for Spires’, both of which had also been published in the ‘Ripon Gazette’. He also read poems from his collection ‘Nomad’ and from a smaller collection inspired by a film.


Instead of wishing everyone a Happy New Year – although that too, of course – we’re sad to announce that the rising threat of infection from the Omicron variant has led to the cancellation of our face-to-face meetings this month.
Subject to an improvement in the situation, we now hope to hold the adjudication of the Poetry Competition on Tuesday, 1st February. Until then, meetings will continue on line. Further details will follow.

Older Entries »

Our friendly group meets once a fortnight in St Wilfrid’s Community Centre 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.

Contact us: Click here to send e-mail