Meeting: 14th September

Lots of familiar faces at last night’s meeting. Great to see a couple of people we’ve not seen for a while.

Also: doughnuts from the Master of Cakery himself.

With eight people attending we had seven pieces of work to critique. We’re now planning for a finish time around 10pm but even with this extension we still didn’t have enough time for all the submitted pieces–so Dave, your piece of work will be the first to be discussed at next month’s meeting.

We now have four novels being discussed in addition to the various short stories we’ve always seen. I’m really enjoying the variety, but I wonder whether to cut our novel writers some slack regards the word count and increase the limit to 4000 words per meeting. What do you think? 4000 words for all pieces of work or just for novel chapters? Or not at all? I’m wondering about that late finish time . . .

Anyway, here are the pieces we discussed last night:

  • Donald presented the second half of his short story based in Glorantha called Political Affairs.  The phrases ‘epic’ and ‘saga’ were bandied around and a couple of people commented that the scope of this piece might be more suitable for a longer piece of work, a novella or even a full-length novel. Slight difference of opinion over the ending. Several people commented that the point-of-view was much improved from the first half.
  • Craig presented the second chapter from his novel Seven Souls. Lots of positive comments about the ‘food is medicine’ line, the themes of Chinese mysticism and the supernatural. Questions were asked about the handling of Chinese accents and language (answered with a firm assurance of political correctness). Requests were made for more British Army back-story for our protagonist. Also plenty of questions about the use of present tense.
  • Eric presented a short story called Returners. The author offered his apologies when he realised that all 6000 words had landed in the DropBox instead of the intended 3000. Saying that, several people read the entire story anyway. Lots of people commented on the gritty details in this military SF story. A few people weren’t too sure about the technology–they felt they’d seen this sort of thing before. Also, a bit too much political info-dumping.
  • Kate presented the second chapter from her novel Body of Dwaal. Lots of positive comments about the setting and the characters with plenty of people looking forward to further chapters. Questions were asked about Beli becoming trusting too quickly (interesting that people are so involved with this character already). Lots of comments about the dialogue in the inn and debates on: soup (is / is not food), fish leather (does exist, so there) and the economics of trading fish for clean water.
  • Rob presented the eleventh chapter from his post-apocalyptic novel. I think pretty much everyone agreed that losing the sex scene in the previous chapter has led to a much improved slowing down of the relationship between our protagonist and Zara. Lots of people said they enjoyed the vodka (typical), the apples and the surprise appearance of the two sons. Several people noticed slips from third to first person, but the author explained that he’s now made the final decision to switch the entire novel over to first.
  • Terri presented the first chapter from her new novel HOPE. Lots of people enjoyed the interaction between the characters–we’re looking forward to the prospect of a very character-led plot. A few comments about omniscience, a possible lack of ‘show not tell‘ and the lack of architectural positions in the Manchester Evening News classifieds. Several people enjoyed the poster-ripping and the Manchester setting. Debate about right-wing parties, charismatic leaders and political language.

We headed around to the pub afterwards for a very quick drink before dashing off. I seem to remember talking about parenthood. Quite a bit.

Anyway, following on from a certain conversation about dialogue, I present Mr Blackadder . . .

Next meeting: Wednesday 12th October.

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