This month we were back to our usual venue at MadLab. A slightly quieter meeting than usual with just five members attending, discussing three pieces of writing. I’d like to welcome our latest new member Damien who gave some great feedback — we’re certainly looking forward to reading your writing at future meetings.
With just three pieces of writing to discuss, the critiques were rather more leisurely than usual with a greater level of detail and we even managed to finish a little early. Just bear in mind that it’s unlikely we’ll have as much leeway at future meetings so our critiques will probably need to be shorter for next month.
I often struggle to summarise my critiques, as you all know! I jot down my critique points at the end of each piece so I’m able to read them out during the meeting without any delay or repetition. I certainly avoid talking about spelling or grammatical mistakes — though I do identify these ‘in-line’ in a paper copy that I hand over to the author — but I’m still often faced with a dozen or more critique points, too many to be able to raise in one meeting. I try to pick out just 3 or 4 main points that I think were most important. If there’s a couple more that I don’t get around to raising, that’s fine, they’re noted down in the copy that I hand over to the author so he or she will still receive my feedback.
Anyway, on with the critiques . . .
- James presented the first part of a short story called Rainbow Town. This rather surreal piece was enjoyed by everyone, especially the characterisation, notably Jude and Michael. A couple of members suggested that Harry didn’t seem to add much, perhaps he could be removed? A few members wondered whether there was too much exposition at the start of the story, perhaps whether there were too many metaphors and similes. Is the painting vital to the plot? Author says: no. Plenty of compliments for the world-building.
- Graeme presented chapter 17 from his novel A Kill in the Morning. Woop Kitty is back! (Sorry, I had to do that.) Several members said that they enjoyed seeing further insights into Heydrich’s character, rather more complex and intelligent than your usual Bond villain. A couple of members wondered whether there wasn’t too much in the way of political exposition, though members suggested that this might be a difficult chapter to write, many threads being pulled together. The Old Man reveal was well received. Members suspect that Heydrich might be about to pull a fast one.
- Luke presented the second part of his novelette Intervention. Several compliments paid regards the pacing and there was the suggestion that this piece already feels as if it has scope to become a novel. A few members weren’t so sure about the dream sequence, whether it added anything, how different it was to the above-ground weirdness. Compliments were paid (again) for Yemi’s characterisation and the world-building with calls for more time to be spent in the underground world, perhaps giving time for Yemi to make the decision to take matters into his own hands. Several members are looking forward to the action in the next section!
Afterwards, we headed off as usual to the Marble Bar where I seem to remember talking about District-9 and Elysium, as well as discussing a variety of essential combat skills including fencing, kung fu, shooting and five-a-side football.
Next meeting: Wednesday 13th November. See you there!