Busy meeting last night with twelve people attending, including four new members, so I’d like to welcome Beverley, Liz, Luke and Danny. You all gave the most amazing feedback. Looking forward to reading and discussing your work at future meetings.
Last month was a slightly mad affair, due to the weather, and several members arrived late, myself being the worse culprit. With all this disruption we ended up with three pieces of writing to carry over. We also had three new submissions making for a total of six for this month.
It was obvious that we weren’t going to get through all of these, but we did manage to catch up on the three carried-over pieces plus one extra. Of the two remaining pieces Kate has decided to withdraw hers (a series of three short stories) as she feels that they were discussed in detail at the Marble Bar after the meeting. A few members also handed over marked-up notes to Kate. If anyone else has anymore notes, please send them to my private email address for me to forward on.
That means we have just a single piece to carry over to next month: Eric‘s chapter from his novel Autumn Man.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, on with the critiques . . .
- Damien presented the first chapter from his novel Going Underground. Plenty of compliments for the action in this piece, especially during the scene on the Underground. Several people liked the crazy old guy, though a couple wondered if he wasn’t a slightly archetypal character (perhaps OK for YA). A few people wondered at the level of authorial intrusion in the initial scene at the start, especially with the long hair and almond-shaped eyes. Commuter advice given on the lack of sideways emergency egress. Also: mobile phones as torches.
- Craig presented the seventh chapter from his novel Canton Station. Plenty of members said that they enjoyed the new character Ada and further compliments were paid on the relationship between Jiao and Qing Long. Blade Runner mentioned (again, scenery) along with Cormac McCarthy (writing style). Several people are demanding for answers for the many questions now posed (too many). First action scene and we’re seven chapters in. Hmm, I will do something about that.
- James presented his first submission, a short story called The Longpig Market. Fairly unanimous feedback from everyone on this piece. Lots of imagery, plenty of good ideas, perhaps just a few too many for one piece. A lot of people were confused as to what was going on. Plenty of constructive feedback given on formatting and the technical side of writing with pointers given to Shunn, Graeme’s blog post and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Some concerns over racial perspective and authorial distance. Dark tone, a good thing.
- Graeme presented the second chapter from his novel Angel in Amber. A number of people enjoyed the reveal into Amber’s personality, her sarcasm, the exchange with the sexist guys in the cafeteria, though a couple of people wondered at the level of humour and authorial male perspective. Questions were asked regarding time and place: is the setting contemporary or near future? (Author stated the piece was written in 2003 so possibly both.) Ciphers are intriguing. Good opening scene.
I’d just like to nag everyone about the following house rules:
- Please keep cross-talk to a minimum during the critiquing rounds. I know it’s difficult, as the author, to hold back on a response until the critiquing circle has finished its work, but the system really does work.
- For members attending second and subsequent meetings, please read all pieces submitted into DropBox. This is just about being polite. If you want everyone to critique your work you should be ready to return the favour.
- Include your name in the filename of the piece you are submitting into DropBox. You should also add your name to the first page of your piece and perhaps the header of every page.
And another reminder that I won’t be able to attend next month’s meeting. I’ve asked a couple of people to take the lead during my absence. I’m sure you’ll be fine . . . better, in fact, without me prattling on!
Next meeting: Wednesday 9th April