First of all I’d like to welcome four new members who joined us last night, that’s Charmini, James, Robert and Alan. Alan isn’t in the photo below, he joined us a few minutes later. Looking forward to reading all your work in the future. Thanks again to Graeme for providing Alan with directions over the phone — sorry, but I don’t know Manchester well enough!
We had a busy meeting last night with thirteen members attending in the end, probably one of the busiest nights we’ve had in a long time. Although we had six pieces submitted into DropBox we only had time to discuss four so the last two pieces (from Craig and Luke) will go forward to the next meeting where they will be the first to be discussed.
Anyway, on with the critiques . . .
- Kate presented the second half of a short story called Petr, Husband of Fevronia. Plenty of compliments were paid for the dialogue, the use of language and turn of phrase, and details such as the crown and the crumbs. An accurate representation of a traditional old-world folk lore tale. A number of people queried the pace of the story in places where it felt rushed, as if it had been cut — and the author confirmed that this was indeed the case. Several members suggested that it could be longer, perhaps by reinstating some of the edited content. Too long, too short, you just can’t please some folk! Also: pesky missing indents (again).
- Brian presented the first chapter of a steampunk novel called Steampower. Straight away we had members asking whether this was a YA piece and I wonder whether we should clearly identify YA pieces for future submissions as it seems to affect the critique that is given. A different set of ‘rules’ (I hate to use the term, but it seems fitting in this case) seems to apply depending on whether a piece is YA or adult fiction. In this case we had thinker attributions, said bookisms and heavy dialect in dialogue. Saying that, I think everyone enjoyed the world building and the clearly identifiable steampunk setting, though a number of people though that the quantity of detail needed cutting back to allow the action to flow. Slippy viewpoint towards the end.
- Graeme presented the 14th chapter from his novel A Kill in the Morning. Always interesting to hear critique from new members on long-running pieces like this as it always seems to offer some interesting objectivity. In this case we have further compliments on the pace and dialogue, mirroring similar comments made during previous meetings. Good consistency. Several people enjoyed Molly’s viewpoint, her dialogue with Reuven and her reaction to her lover’s disappearance/kidnapping. A few questions were asked about the omniscient section in the middle (though it seemed fitting and advanced the plot). Some members are intrigued as to what the Z22 might be bringing to the story. Also: a character who bears a similarity with a certain bespectacled character from that Indiana Jones film.
- Eric presented the 9th chapter from his novel Autumn Man. I think everyone enjoyed the imagery and description in this story, especially concerning our protagonist’s rather unpleasant hygiene issues. Compliments also paid regarding his inner voice and some turns of phrase, such as the fluttering thoughts inside Tracey’s head. A few questions were asked about the ability of a plane to continue to fly to its destination on autopilot. And we had some post-911 era questions: whether planes would be scrambled to intercept, whether the cockpit cabin door was locked and whether the pilot could watch events unfold via the on-board CCTV.
We decided to finish with four pieces at 9.30pm rather than trying to squeeze in any more. I personally don’t mind this — and I had one of the pieces being bounced to the following meeting — but I understand that this is sometimes frustrating for other writers, especially novel writers trying to hit their chapter-per-meeting quota. I’m not sure what to suggest should this happen again in the future — or indeed what we should do if numbers continue to increase at future meetings? Please share any suggestions in the comments below or over in the Facebook group.
Here’s a link to the Spaceship Unbound event I mentioned at the start of the meeting. If you’re interested in getting involved, especially on the 6th and 20th July, just drop me a email or a message on Facebook.
As usual, we headed around the corner to the Marble Bar after the meeting where we had a better chance to chat to our new members. Very interesting to chat to you all. Looking forward to seeing you at next month’s meeting!
Next meeting: Wednesday 10th July