Meeting: 14th November

First of all I’d like to welcome Laura who joined us for the first time last night. Thanks for your excellent feedback–we can tell you’ve done this before and we’re looking forward to reading some of your work.

Before we get started with the critiques, I’d just like to reiterate my thanks for all the generous donations we’ve received during the last few months in cash and via PayPal. As some of you are already aware we were able to make a £70 donation to MadLab after last month’s meeting and it was very gratefully received:

That’s so nice of you. I’ve really enjoyed watching your group grow and flourish. I’ve regularly used SpecFic as an example of a group we’re helping, and showcased the spectacular outcomes.
Hwa Young
Manchester Digital Laboratory (MadLab)

And now for the crits!

  • Kate presented a short story called Skin. I think everyone enjoyed this traditional fairy tale, especially the setting, the handling of the shape-shift between human and frog form, and the use of language such as the magical knotting of forest paths. Questions were asked about the transition in size between one form and the other (but then it is magic). A few people found the start a little confusing and wondered whether there were too many characters. There was a quick debate about suitable publishing venues, with a couple of people wondering whether this piece might crossover into the lit-fic market. Do frog’s have teeth? Apparently so.
  • James presented a short story called The Cost of Living. There was unanimous appreciation for the gritty reality of the post-war military-SF setting in this story, especially the return to the blasted town and the slightly retro atmosphere that runs throughout the piece. A few people were confused about the start: the relevance of the lottery ticket, the shilling note and the stolen holo-projector. There were also some questions about the plot and arc of the story with some people wondering if this wasn’t the first chapter (or the second) of a much larger piece. Calls for the author to get cracking on a novel!
  • Eric presented the first half of a short story called Indian Summer. Several people expressed appreciation over the literary, romantic quality to this piece, especially the relationship between the protagonist and Tom. A few people pointed out that this wasn’t a spec-fic piece–at least not yet–which led to some conjecture over what might be around the corner (and the suggestion that, knowing Eric, it might not end well). A couple of people wondered whether the burley-handed gardener wasn’t a bit too Lady Chatterley’s and there were a few suggestions for nailing down the POV at the very start. Keen anticipation for the concluding half at next month’s meeting.
  • Craig presented the third and final section from his Three Harmonies novelette. Relief from the author (I can tell you!) that the final reveal was understood, with a suggestion that this might even be a new twist on the concept of meta-fiction. Several people had the same suggestion for switching the POV in this final section to that of the new character, the unnamed middle-aged man. Questions were raised about water soaking into the protagonist’s trainers (why the tops?) and some possible tense glitches. You want another Chinese story for next month? Well if you insist…
  • Graeme presented the seventh chapter from his novel A Kill in the Morning. I think pretty much everyone enjoyed the action and pace in this chapter, especially the chase scene at the start. A couple of people made comparisons with Skyfall, though they differed in their opinion over whether the protagonist was similar to, or notably different from, the latest incarnation of Bond. Comments for and against the re-write of Trotsky’s demise. Calls for further chapters to be submitted!

We finished around 9.30pm and made our way around the corner for the usual gossip which seemed to include discussions over finding an agent and whether it was possible to speed-read three books in a day.

Next meeting: Wednesday 12th December. See you all there!

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