Meeting: 14th May

This month’s meeting marks a very special moment: our 4th anniversary! There was cake (see below).

Our group continues to thrive and it only does so with your continued enthusiasm and support. I’m certainly looking forward to the next four years. Perhaps we should plan something for our fifth anniversary next year? Group trips to one or more conventions? Perhaps an anthology? Have a think and let me know. We can have a pub chat after a meeting sometime, but if we’re going to do something we need to start planning it now.

Meeting: 14th May

A belated welcome to James who actually attended last month’s meeting whilst I was away. Welcome also to Shakeel and Len. Before we look at last night’s critiques a quick note on . . .

House Rules

Everyone should re-read the house rules whether you’re an existing member or a potential new recruit. These were updated yesterday and I’ve added further changes today.

I’ve toughed up on some of the wording so a lot of the rules now read ‘must’ where it previously said ‘advised’ or some other fluffy wording. I’ve added some clarification over various items such as handing over marked-up hardcopies. I hope it all makes sense. Please get in touch if you spot any mistakes or if you think the new rules are too prescriptive.


MadLab is being refurbished during July and August. There’s the possibility of some disruption to our meetings but I don’t have any specifics yet. I’m already receiving offers for alternative temporary venues. Thanks all! As soon as I have more information I’ll let you all know via Facebook or at a group meeting. Here’s what I have so far . . .

As of July, the ground floor is undergoing a massive transformation. There are plans for the front to be opened up to the street and a new meeting room to be added to the back. Upon completion, we’ll have loads more meeting space which will provide us with opportunities to take on more groups and more projects!

It does, however, mean that we may be out of action for a few months. This is likely to be during August but we will notify you as soon as we have the finalised dates.

We’ll do our best to rehouse you during this period but we may not be able to do that for everyone. Please be patient with us during this time, it’ll be worth it as after it’s done we’ll have a bigger, better MadLab.

And finally . . .

The Critiques

We had ten members attending last night’s meeting with eight pieces of work to discuss. This is probably one of the highest attendee/submission ratios we’ve ever seen. We knew in advance that we were never going to be able to discuss all of the pieces in DropBox, but we managed to critique four submissions with the others passed over to next month’s meeting. These remaining pieces will be the first to be critiqued next month (June).

Members should feel free to add new submissions to DropBox (if you don’t already have something in there) though it’s likely that these won’t be critiqued until the following month (July). Please note that everyone attending next month’s meeting should read all of the submissions, no matter whether you think that they will be discussed or not.

Anyway, on with the critiques . . .

  • Damien presented the fourth chapter from his novel Ascension. There was resounding appreciation for this chapter, especially with the pace and ease of reading. Several readers enjoyed the switch from English to translated-Spanish and the dialogue between Blanca and Triana, though a few people wondered whether the dialogue needed trimming and there were calls for clearer speaker identification. Some readers also wondered at the level of melodrama with David. Much approval for the scene-setting in the hospital, the blood at the end, and the switch in Blanca’s personality.
  • Craig presented the eighth chapter from his novel Canton Station. Fairly unanimous approval for the riot scene in this chapter and the tech involved. Some readers were again not sure about pace and whether some cutting back was required to up the pace. Further compliments were paid regarding the scene-setting. Some debate over Preston’s reaction to his situation: this varied from ‘resignation’ to ‘buffoonery’. Either way, there were calls to clarify this from his point of view.
  • Graeme presented the next two chapters from his novel Angel in Amber. I think pretty much everyone enjoyed the interrogation scene, though there was some confusion over Frances being a woman and there were a few calls to change this dialogue-only report into a standard scene. Several readers said that they enjoyed the fast pace and easy-readability, especially the dialogue between Rob and Amber, though a few people wondered about the prose/metaphors in their romantic scene. Much debate over a certain oil-rippling metaphor.
  • Shakeel presented the first two chapters of a long short story or novella called Christopher. Some readers drew positive comparisons with American Psycho and The Wolf of Wall Street. Much constructive assistance given over spelling and grammar, both of which needed work, as well as sentence structure: too many run-ons. Advised to focus on short stories. The usual tip to read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (we should get a commission).

We attempted to pop around to the Marble Bar afterwards but it was rammed so we ended up at The Terrace instead. Slightly noisy.

Next month’s meeting: Wednesday 11th June


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