Another fantastic meeting last night with nine people attending and all six DropBox submissions critiqued by the end. It’s still early days but I think the twice-monthly meetings are working well. We’ve had a great turnout at both meetings so far with maybe 1 or 2 fewer submissions per meeting. That means we’re finishing on time without anyone missing out and we’re getting through more critiques.
We seem to have agreed upon a slight modification to the ‘pen spinning’ house rule, as follows:
- We start by critiquing those DropBox submissions carried over from the previous meeting.
- Then we critique any new submissions from writers who didn’t have anything critiqued during the previous meeting.
- Then we critique everything else.
- We spin a pen or toss a coin in any or all of the above cases, if need be.
This actually sounds a lot more complex than it is. In most cases there’s no need to spin a pen at all, it’s immediately obvious which submission we should start critiquing.
Let me know if you have any further comments about this change. I’ve updated the House Rules (rule #7). I’ve also added some further clarification about erotica (rule #15).
On with the critiques!
- Terence presented the prologue and first two chapters from his novel Earthfall. I think everyone enjoyed the second chapter most of all: Jakad was a likeable, roguish character. A few people weren’t sure about the info-dumping in the first chapter and they found the prologue rather confusing. YA fiction? Narrative in prologue read like prose poetry.
- Eric presented chapters seven and eight from his novel Hellbound. We had fairly unanimous approval for the scene with Hector and the butterfly, although a couple of people did point out similarities with Silence of the Lambs. Good pacing. A few questions over Police procedure on the beach. Questions asked about viewpoint: some people didn’t realise we were with Oscar’s viewpoint until a few paragraphs in.
- Hans presented a flash fiction piece called Laura. Several people really enjoyed this story, especially the twist at the end, though a few wondered about the lack of speculative elements elsewhere in the piece. The protagonist was generally liked for being dislikeable, though a few people just genuinely disliked him. A few questions were asked about his seduction technique. Too much male-gaze? Missing indents.
- Craig presented a short story called Spare Parts. I think most people enjoyed the mannequins in this story, finding the concept suitably creepy or even actually horrific. A slow start. Suggestions to combine characters. Si didn’t deserve what happened to him. Slight difference of opinion over the opening line and whether it gave the game away or not.
- James presented two short stories called Fathr and Daddiction. I think everyone enjoyed both pieces, especially the second story, though some people wondered whether they should be somehow combined. Black comedy. Several laugh-out-loud moments for various readers. Calls for one character, Lines, to be removed from the second story (author agreed, but he will return elsewhere!). Ending was either rushed or drawn out: perhaps end with the punchline? Watch out for dialogue nested inside dialogue: “Because,” I said, “as my friend puts it, ‘It can be confusing for readers.’ Especially, as, my other friend said, ‘When you have multiple speakers.'”
- Len presented a short story called Truth Will Out. Several people enjoyed the concept of the unrequited soulmate presented in this piece. A few readers guessed the afterlife reveal. Suggestion to focus on the soulmate angle and perhaps even reveal the afterlife location straight from the start. Protagonist’s dialogue was a little flat in places. F-bombs vs blasphemy: amusing.
After the meeting we headed around to Common for a more informal chat and free doughnuts!
Anyway, that’s it for another couple of weeks. Next meeting: Tuesday 22nd September.
DropBox is now empty. Please use the ‘Tuesday’ folder for the next meeting.