Meeting: 9th November

Thanks to everyone who attended last night’s meeting. A warm welcome to Ben Stroud who joined us last night. With eight people attending, we had six pieces of writing to discuss. Apologies received from Kate via email before the meeting: she’s still ‘looking forward to seeing everyone at the open mike’ by which I think she means either Re:Tale or the next Bad Language (both are well worth checking out).

Guy managed to zoom in during the meeting with some superb ninja biscuits (and kindly explained the various combat moves) . . .

So, we started a little after 7pm as we waited for people to arrive and finished at exactly 10pm. Not bad, but I think we could probably tighten up our feedback just a little. We only discussed six pieces. Please make sure you read all the pieces beforehand. I’d also recommend preparing a few notes as this should help consolidate your feedback. I really don’t want anyone to miss anything out, but it might be worthwhile speaking on just a few primary points rather than running through an entire list of feedback items. I know this is a tricky balance. I often get fired up reading the work we’re going to discuss and I end up writing far too much feedback!

Marking up a copy of each author’s story is a great idea. This might allow you to skip over some of the more basic areas of feedback, such as grammar or punctuation, focusing on the more complex areas. You can always hand your marked-up copy to the author afterwards, ensuring they’ve received all of your valuable feedback.

On this last point I just want to say that I find these marked-up copies extremely useful when it comes to editing my work, particularly when several weeks or even months have passed since the meeting where the piece of work was originally discussed. I recently decided to rewrite a story which had been discussed at a meeting several months ago. The two marked-up copies of the original story proved invaluable with my editing. The piece was sent out and subsequently accepted for publication.

Anyway, enough of my nagging and on with the evening’s feedback:

  • Rob presented a further chapter from his post-apocalyptic novel which–drum roll please!–now has the name: Industrial Revolution. Several people enjoyed the imagery: the desolation, the rain (though one person didn’t like the holes in the boots). The appearance of the FDR character invoked a fairly unified response, especially his dialogue. We also discussed heavy metal doors.
  • Ben (or it might have to be Benjamin in the future) presented a short story called Kelix. Several people enjoyed this funny, mature story. Some nice one liners (difficult day / Antarctic moss / dead skin). A couple of people wanted more of a relationship between the robot and the protagonist. A few questions were asked about the privacy levels with all that, erm, rummaging around. And my notes say: ‘nob might not travel overseas’–make of that what you will.
  • Andrew presented two short stories called We Also Love and We Also Die. Several people disagreed about how standalone these stories were. A number of people commented positively about the inter-racial metaphor and how the second story was very touching. A few people wanted to see more of the relationship between the mech and the human. And a big ‘No!’ to Darth Vader.
  • Eric presented a short story called Earthsong. This modern retelling of the Pied Piper tale caused quite a debate, with opinion slightly divided over whether retelling old tales like this was a good idea or not. There were a few comments about the technical side of things, such as viewpoint and use of adverbs, but the debate kept drifting back to the retelling of old tales, whether the original story should be turned on its head and whether some/all/any of the original scenery should be kept or not (rats, children etc). I suspect this very interesting topic will continue at future meetings.
  • Chris presented a short story called Persistence of Memory. This is another story which caused a strong debate about how to realistically recreate failing memory within a story. A number of people didn’t like the wedding ring perhaps because it gave the game away. Several people said they thought this story had potential, perhaps not yet achieved. A couple of film associations mentioned: Sixth Sense (wedding ring), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Strange Days, 8mm, Source Code.
  • Craig presented the fourth chapter from his novel Seven Souls. Positive comments regarding pace and the ci shen. General consensus is that the various Chinese-English language translations are working, but the Dutch was a little over the top. Still a few concerns over the level of emotional involvement between reader and the two protagonists.
Next meeting: Wednesday 14th December
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