Author Archives: chrovenden

Tuesday Meeting: 24th May

We had another great meeting last Tuesday, although with a slight change of location. After a mix-up with our usual room in MadLab, we headed over to Tea4/2 on High street (who were kind enough to give us a table for 2 hours). Nice chairs!

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We had 10 members in attendance this Tuesday including one new member. I’m sure everyone will join me in welcoming Claire, we look forward to seeing some work from you very soon.

On to our crits:

Peter presented two pieces: one short story and the first part of a larger work. A lot of praise for both of these, both the writing and the ideas. A few questions raised regarding whether these were standalone or part of something larger (something to make clear in the submission folder methinks). There was a feeling with both pieces that they gave a snapshot of an interesting world and perhaps wanted to be turned into something longer.

  • ‘The Centaurs’ Dream’ put some members in mind of a ‘Little Mermaid’ but with centaurs, which all agreed sounded like a job lot of fun! Some questions about ‘amphora’ in the first line and the difficult to character names possibly presenting a tripping point for flash readers. Calls to make more of the discovery of Chalcedon’s transformation and expand upon the reasons and repercussions for and of this change: is there some irony to this transformation?
  • ‘Enclosure’ received a lot of praise for the writing and descriptions. Some great world building here. Some members worried that the characters were a little bit generic and there were calls for this to be expanded to give the motivations and backstory for both our protagonist and antagonist. Questions over why our protagonist doesn’t put up much of a fight, and how her brother came to be the King’s right hand. Is he really in control? Where is the King anyway? We look forward to learning sometime soon!

Arthur presented the first two chapters from his novel ‘Repospace’, a Douglas Adams-esque foray into the life and adventures of an intergalactic repo man. There was all round praise for the setting and humour throughout this piece. Also praise for the characterization of Larrr. There were some concerns about the number of characters introduced in the second chapter and some calls for more active intros of the main characters. Some members felt that the sub-plot with Larrr needed to be drawn out over several chapters (or perhaps the whole novel!). Calls also for more active showing of the events in the opening. All agreed that there was a lot of great material here with Larrr’s backstory and the initial repo job-gone-wrong, but as this was all told by other characters rather than shown to the reader, we ended up missing out on a great ride! Lets get the narrator front and centre for the repoo job. Some questions over Larrr’s motivations given her situation and the  inclusion of the nagging wife.

Finally, Angela presented the first part of her story ‘Sorell Sharclaw’. Lots of praise here for the descriptions and vocabulary, aggressive main character, use of senses other than just sight, and the sinister foreshadowing of what we might have in store for us. Some members felt the piece was reminiscent of Chronicles of Riddick and Enemy Mine with our protagonist trapped on an apparently barren planet with an unsavoury character. Lots of interest in our POV’s implants and how they work. Some questions over why she has to shave her head to get them working (because they’re solar powered!) and why someone who powers up from sunlight has been imprisoned on a planet with three suns. Calls for more characterization of Dickrot (and some clarification: is his name really Dickrot?!), including bringing out his malevolent side (he’s a big teddy right now). Calls, also, for some more alien flora and fauna, and explanation as to why she has been exiled to this planet: what is the rehabilitation system that she is being put through? We look forward to seeing more soon, and hopefully getting some richer descriptions of this out of body experience.

That’s all for the crits; however, we’ve been getting quite a lot of comments about manuscript formatting recently. As a general reminder be sure to check out the Shunn Formatting guidelines. Basically:

  • Double line spacing in a plain font (Times or Courier)
  • Put ‘Name // Short-Title // Page#’ in your header (starting second page)
  • Keep your paragraphing consistent (if you use a hanging indent for new para, then stick with it!)
  • Use a # to designate a section break to avoid confusion.

Phew! That wasn’t so bad.

Our next meeting is an early one in the month: Wednesday the 8th. We’ll see you there!

Pip pip!

 

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Wednesday Meeting: 11 May

Hi all,

A quick announcement first

Our glorious leader Craig Pay is stepping down from running the group for the foreseeable future. I’m sure everyone will join me in thanking him for his hard work, fantastic crits, and general dedication to the group over the past several years, and in wishing him well with all his future exploits. We look forward to some fleeting visits (and please bring lightsabers for us to play with).

For the time being, the People’s Republic of ManSpecFic will be governed by Graeme Shimmin, Eric Ian Steele, Luke Shelbourn, and Chris Ovenden (hey, that’s me!)

OK, on with the report!


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We had another short meeting this Wednesday with just two pieces to crit, though we made up for this with some slightly longer critiques.

We would also like to extend a very warm welcome to two new group members, Lindy and Arthur, who were attending for the first time. You both gave some great critiques and we look forward to seeing some fiction from you in the very near future!

  • Hans presented the first half of a short story called ‘In the Wash’. This was a piece that I think everyone agreed was full of some very interesting ideas just looking for a bit more direction. There was some debate over whether it was leaning more towards horror or comedy, with some thinking it should perhaps be chopped up into different pieces. A lot of praise for the writing and dialogue, as well as for the transformation from mundane events to horror/absurd. A lot of questions about the hand in the washing machine: How big is it? Is it disembodied? Is it alien? Also, some members felt the two horror events in the story needed a stronger narrative connection (and perhaps that they needed homes in different stories). Calls for more foreshadowing and background to connect up the spooky events. Is this her husband coming back to haunt her, or is there a problem with the water supply?
  • Next, Angela presented a short piece called ‘That Creature Called Sprout’. Lots of praise for the premise of this piece and for the themes of death and rebirth. There were some questions about whether this could be capitalized on further, and whether the tree POV was being over-personified, but general agreement that this was a strong POV to work on. Some members felt the twist ending came too abruptly and needed more foreshadowing, and there were a few mixed feelings about the opening paragraph: some felt it had a nice hook, others that it could be cut. Calls for more world-building and a clearer explanation of Sprout’s actions towards the end: What are her motivations? Could she hear the POV all along? Is she a witch? A spirit? Is our tree POV really a tree? Lots of questions from an engaging story, we hope to get some answers when it makes it into print!

That’s all for this week. Next meeting Tuesday 24th (and we’ll try to get the blog post up a bit more sharpish!)

Keep writing!

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