Important! Meeting on the 9th March

I’ve just received an email stating that this Wednesday’s meeting will have to start one hour later due to a double-booking. To re-iterate:

Meeting: 9th March, now an 8pm start.

Sorry, events beyond my control. I suggest we aim for a 10pm finish. Any stories we don’t get critiqued should be passed over to one of the April meetings (and I volunteer mine first).

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Announcement: Twice-monthly meetings

For a trial period, starting in April, we will be running twice-monthly meetings. Meetings will take place on the first Tuesday as well as the second Wednesday of the month. This should allow us to cater for our increasing membership whilst still offering the same level of constructive criticism that we have enjoyed in the past. We’re going to cap the number of pieces of work per meeting at eight (8), though this will be lower if less than sixteen (16) pieces are submitted per month. Members are welcome to attend all meetings, whether their work is being discussed or not.

Our next meeting is at 7pm – 9.30pm on Wednesday 9th March 2011.

And then:

  • Tuesday 5th April 2011
  • Wednesday 13th April 2011

If you’re interested in coming along to a meeting then please contact us.

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Shiny New URL

Yes we have a new URL…

http://manchesterspeculativefiction.org

…so please update your bookmarks. The old URL still works and will just redirect to our new address so don’t worry, you won’t lose us!

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Meeting: 9th February

First of all I’d like to welcome Rebecca who joined us for the first time last night. I’d again like to apologise for not emailing you the work we planned to critique in last night’s meeting – I think we managed to scrabble together some paper copies for you to read during the meeting. I really enjoyed listening to the short prose extract you brought with you and if you drop me a copy by email I’ll forward it on to everyone.

Well there is one word to describe last night and that is ‘epic’. With nine pieces of work to critique (including Rebecca’s spoken story) we finished just a little over an hour late at 10pm. Personally I didn’t mind the late finish and overall the evening felt less rushed than last month’s stopwatch-timed event. What does everyone think?

Summary of the evening’s events as follows:

  • Guy presented a further chapter from his novel Night Work. There was a little confusion over the geometry and scale of the creature and most (but not all) rebuked the clenching of buttocks. Everyone enjoyed the details aboard the boat.
  • Shirley presented her first piece of work, a short story titled In The Beginning which lasted a rather precise 4 minutes and 27 seconds (the story, not the critique). There was disagreement about whether to like the main character, David, or not. But we all enjoyed the pacing and the details. And Death.
  • Rebecca read a short extract from a short piece of fantasy prose she is currently working on. Everyone enjoyed the details and the similes, especially the jam gatherers, and we need to read more!
  • Craig presented a short story titled Lady Indigo. There was disagreement about whether to mix the absinthe à la Française and questions were raised regarding the authenticity of some of the Victorian turns of phrase.
  • Rob presented a further chapter from his as yet unnamed post-apocalyptic novel. There was a little confusion about the flashback scene and but we all enjoyed his walk in the sunshine and the subtle release of information which indicates a bigger picture.
  • Dave presented the first part of a short story titled The WinterSouth Gates of Quetoriale Ke. Several people thoroughly enjoyed the dream sequencing as well as the setting itself. Questions were raised regarding the usefulness of both gate and guards. We’re all looking forward to the next instalment.
  • Ben presented a short story titled Brains. Or should that be Brainssss…? A funny story, some people found it funny whilst others just ‘funny’. Concerns were raised over the stoic lack of fear experienced by the gore-soaked children, but everyone loved the ‘darling hat’. Oh…and it was quite funny, did I mention that?
  • Hakim presented a Doctor Who fan fiction story titled Big G’s Castle. Seems there are few fans of Sylvester McCoy (or Ace) though it seems there is a very good reason for using him. Everyone loved the setting and there were several requests for a sans-Who version of the story.
  • Sam presented a short story titled ROSE. There was much discussion about this quirky story both during the meeting and down t’pub afterwards. Suggestions were made to improve the editing by reading aloud.

Thanks to Dave for modelling my steampunk goggles

We managed a quick drink and a chat down the pub afterwards. Next meeting is at 7pm on Wednesday 9th March.

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Meeting: 12th January

First of all I’d like to welcome Shirley Kernan who joined us for the first time last night. Hi Shirley! I’m especially looking forward to reading your steampunk work.

And what a busy evening: we had six stories critiqued by eight members – and we spent the first twenty minutes having a discussion about the group. But we still only overran by 15 minutes! This might be due to a new system we tried last night where we limit the time for feedback per story, skipping people if need be. With six stories we went for 15 minutes per story and I think we only skipped a couple of critiques. Hopefully this gave everyone a more equal slice of the feedback pie without rushing towards the end.

This was certainly one of the most successful meetings (if not the most successful) we’ve had so far.

Summary as follows:

  • Ben presented a chapter from his novel which he is hoping to rework as a short story. Naked Flamingo-Woman in Teen Shock Tease! There was much discussion on dialogue and the male teenage psyche (which seems fairly straight-forward, quite literally), as well as endings and beginnings.
  • Guy presented a further chapter from his Night Work novel. We discussed punctuation, the temporal mechanics of combat choreography and someone smartly identified the mythological golden prophylactic association (top marks).
  • Craig presented a packet of Garibaldi biscuits and a short paranormal-horror story. The biscuits were (quite rightly) shunned in favour of Guy’s home-made cookies; but there was positive feedback on characterisation and some gentle advice on journalism (don’t give up the day job).
  • John presented a short and classily classic sci-fi story. Someone cunningly identified the Philip K Dick association (more top marks) and there was further discussion about endings and beginnings
  • Rob presented a further chapter from his post-apocalyptic novel. Comparisons were made with I Am Legend, there was feedback on the use of tense and we nearly started talking about pizza (again).
  • Hakim presented a chapter from his novel which features free-running, Liverpool, masons and pentagrams. There was positive feedback on characterisation and setting, some more questions on temporal mechanics and Dan Brown was damned by most (if not all) for spoiling the fun.

Most of us popped along to the pub afterwards and we managed to spend another couple of hours talking about all sorts from post-apocalyptic pizza to sexuality to Twitter and websites. Oh and writing.

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Meeting: 8th December

Hi everyone, apologies for the delay but I’ve had a couple of days annual leave so I’ve been out of the house. Another great meeting on Wednesday. We had six members attending with two newcomers – welcome to Jammill and Hakim! Hakim is starting a Spec Fic group over in Liverpool if anyone’s interested. Drop him an email at hakim.cassimally@gmail.com.

Quick roundup of Wednesday’s submissions:

  • Craig presented a short story about a young man and his relationship with his father who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. There was mincemeat and a ghost. Lots of feedback about the use of point of view.
  • John presented a short story featuring an argument between a man and a woman. He awoke to find himself locked outside their conjugal abode – bit of a problem when it’s a craft in space. There was much feedback, including a discussion about some good old Newtonian physics.
  • Dave presented a short story about a character in a series of computer games. We all logged on for some PvP and pwned each other. Then we discussed formatting, the use of multiple letters and the ending.
  • Jammill presented a Spec Fic screenplay with a sprinkling of police procedure. This is the first time we’ve looked at a screenplay rather than straight prose and it prompted much debate, as well as an honest acknowledgement from most members (except for Dave) of a lack of experience with the form. Plenty of discussion (and education) on screenplay formatting and a little chat about police procedure.
  • Guy presented the second chapter of his Night Work novel. There was a little hetero uncertainty when it came to responding in a politically correct way to the relationship presented in the scene. We also talked about narrator voice and dialogue.
  • Hakim presented a short story with the tree Yggdrasil, a crystal sword and a duck. There was also some extremely well hidden object-orientated programming. We iterated our way through our responses and learnt a new word: monad.

Next meeting: Wednesday 12th January 7pm start as usual. I’m not sure whether I’ll be able to make this one but I’ll still send out reminders and so on. I’ll email nearer the time when I know for sure (birthday the following day).

Have a very merry Christmas, Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Day of the Return of the Wandering Goddess, Yule and whatever else you might be celebrating.

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Meeting: 10th November

Another great meeting with six stories submitted and critiqued.

I have to dash off to work for a training course (boo-hiss) so the dry facts are as follows:

  • Rob presented a chapter from a novel he is writing which describes a torture scene. There was a detailed discussion on the use of third person point of view and we also looked at the characters in the scene.
  • Ben presented a very short story called Deep Matter as well as a chapter from his novel All Creatures Great With Chips. We discussed the dialogue used in All Creatures as well as naming and whether the theme of the Acquirer might have been used before. There was one paragraph which knocked everyone’s socks off.
  • Dave presented the first half of a short story called Architecture. We chatted about info-dumping and dialogue. I think we’re all intrigued that Dave doesn’t know how it’s going to end yet.
  • Guy presented a story called Night Work. We discussed how this gritty story had been cut down from a much longer length. The were-elephant works surprisingly well.
  • Craig presented a very short story called The Cake is a Lie. The use of second person certainly stirred up quite a debate. See: Marmite.
  • John presented a chapter from a longer piece of work (possibly a novella?) called Packages. We discussed character naming, adjectives and metaphors. There might be some sneaky dialogue info-dumping but everyone loved the characters, especially their clothing habits.

We popped along to a bar afterwards and carried on with the chat over beer and grapefruit juice (well, I was on the juice). Great evening, thanks, and see you at the next one!

Next meeting is Wednesday 8th December.

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