Norwich Writers' Circle, Uncategorized

An Evening with Heidi Williamson

Members of Norwich Writers’ Circle were delighted to welcome award-winning poet and mentor Heidi Williamson to our meeting on Tuesday 16th January.  Heidi led an instructive and entertaining workshop on how the use of poetic techniques can improve both our prose and poetry.

Heidi

The group was challenged to join a number of free-writing exercises, demonstrating the use of sound, patterning, editing and silence.  Heidi encouraged us to experiment with the length of sentences, to read our work out loud when editing (where we get bored, the reader will get bored!), to seek stronger words to replace overused verbs.  We should look to improve both the rhythm and vocabulary in our sentences.

pexels-photo-210661

Heidi recommended us to become absorbed in a different world, seeking out occupations or places that are out of our life experience, in order to expand our range.  Why not to go the dictionary, find ten random words and try incorporating them into a paragraph of free writing? Do not be afraid to repeat words for emphasis – poets often use patterning repetition to great effect.

Finally the group discussed the use of silence, pauses and tension in our writing, techniques more often found in poetry than in prose.

The workshop was inspiring and enlightening and Robin Parkinson thanks Heidi on behalf of the group.  During our refreshment break Heidi signed copies of her two anthologies, Electric Shadow and The Print Museum.

Advertisements
Norwich Writers' Circle

Reading Up A Storm

Photo 1

On Tuesday 16th May we welcomed Robert Welton, librarian of the Jane Austen College.

Robert regaled us with the journey that led him where he was today – how he started in Borders as a children’s specialist book seller.  He was the first ever national children’s book seller.  When Borders closed down, Robert moved to Jarrolds and became part of their events management team, working specifically with children and  schools.  He was later head-hunted for the job of librarian at Jane Austen College following a chance encounter with the head teacher.

He then moved on to discussing something very important: getting children and young adults to read.  Just how do you accomplish such a task?

Robert explained that at Jane Austen College, students are encouraged to be the best they be, whether that is going to university or working in a pub.  With this in mind, Robert explained that it is far more important that children are reading rather than what they are reading.

“We have this thing where if they don’t want to read a novel, if they want to read the sports page, if they want to read the Beano, The Dandy, Empire Magazine … if they’re reading the back of a cereal packet every morning, they’re reading something.  It doesn’t matter what they’re reading, as long as they’re enjoying it.”

– Robert Welton

Robert went on to explain that they have form periods and thirty minutes of that is dedicated to reading.  Students can bring in anything they want and read it – no matter what it is.

“Too many schools have this ‘you will read this and you will enjoy it!’. And what’s the best way to put children off reading?  By forcing them to do it …  If you keep pushing children to read, they won’t do it.”

– Robert Welton

The evening was capped off with some excellent book recommendations and a slight tangent on the importance of not relying on wikipedia for information.

Overall, everyone greatly enjoyed Robert’s talk.  For most, the reading bug caught us young, so it is fantastic to know that there is at least one person out there still working hard to create a new generation of readers.

The NWC would like to thank Robert for his informative talk.  Also, a special thanks to everyone who joined us, either as a guest of a member.

We hope to see you again soon!

 

Norwich Writers' Circle

Results Of The Ivy Ferari Cup

Tuesday 2nd May saw S.E Craythorne return to announce the winners of our fourth and last competition of the season – the Ivy Ferrari Cup.  The theme was ‘motherhood’.

Motherhood 1

The winners were:

  • 1st place Iain Andrews with Judgement of Solomon.
  • 2nd Kim Lewis with The Sparrow.
  • 3rd Phyllida Scrivens with Especially When You Dance.

Congratulations to the winners!

The NWC would like to thank Sally for her superb adjudication.  We’d also like to thank everyone who entered the competition.

Our next meeting is 16th May.  Robert Welton, the Librarian at Jane Austen College and former bookseller, will give a talk about how his library is designed to encourage reading, what type of books youngsters read these days as well as his views on the future of printed books.

We hope to see you there!

Norwich Writers' Circle

Don’t Be A Stranger To Your Voice

It’s official!  On Tuesday 18th April, we officially launched this year’s Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition.  We were joined by Ralph Jackman, our adjudicator, Frank Meeres, author of Strangers: A history of Norwich’s incomers, and Charles Wilde, marketing and development manager for Norfolk Museums Service, who have kindly agreed to assist us with the competition this year.

gala5Gala 1

First, Frank Meeres gave a fascinating talk on some of the mysterious and intriguing ‘incomers’ into Norwich.

gala2

Then it was up to our adjudicator to offer advice to prospective entrants:

gala3

“I’m afraid, that if you have come today to glean what it is that the adjudicator will be looking for, or what kind of writing I like, then I’m afraid I’m not going to be very helpful.  Because the answer is I like such a wide range of writing, just as I do with music … When something’s good, it’s good.  It stands out.  It captures the reader.  It lingers in the memory afterwards.  So I encourage everyone, whatever their style, to give it their best, no one can ask more, but also to have the courage to submit.”

– Ralph Jackman

Ralph went on to detail his take on the theme, what sorts of images or ideas it conjured for him:

“A brief google of ‘stranger’ led me to the following: A person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar; A person who does not know, or is not known in a particular place or community; A person entirely unaccustomed to a feeling experience of situation.  What a broad palette this allows us … The first thing that crossed my mind, is how we were all strangers once, even to those who love us the most, not just our partners,  but our mums and dads, our brothers and sisters, our best friends.

How do we move from stranger, to dear friend?  Is there something there, to be explored?

Then in the news, Prince Harry spoke of the need to speak about his grief “even to a total stranger” and I thought, what is it about strangers, that we can open up to them? Why is it, that we can share with them our deepest secrets or worst pain?

What other opportunities does meeting a stranger bring? A chance to start again? A chance to pretend, to assume a different persona.

People deliberately move, uproot their entire lives, in order to become a stranger, as a means to start again, to protect themselves from painful memories, or distance themselves from sins of the past.

So being a stranger can, on the one hand, feel lonely, isolated, even frightening.  But on the other hand, it can be desired, wanted, liberating.  Celebrities might seek to be a stranger, to escape the recognition, and they haven’t necessarily sinned … Then I thought how interesting it is, that even in the modern world, with the internet, mobile phones and the like, it’s still possible to be a stranger.  The mask of the internet allows people to hide who they really are.”

– Ralph Jackman

So in short, there is no secret formula that will pique the adjudicator’s interest.  The best way to set yourself above other entrants is to write the story you want to tell and tell it well.  The theme of ‘strangers’ allows for a variety of different interpretations and there are countless ways to explore it.

“I am open to all styles and all genres. 2000 words is not a large number, but it’s enough to change a reader’s life … This does not mean your stories must make the world a better place but perhaps it needs to have entertained, or been thought-provoking – something that makes it an experience … Don’t try to second-guess what I might like. Write a story that you want, in the manner that you want it to be told.  Ultimately, don’t be a stranger to your voice.”

– Ralph Jackman

With this in mind, we wish all entrants the best of luck!

For full details of the competition, including terms and conditions, please visit the competition page.

Remember if your entry wins, not only do you have the chance to win a cash prize, but also see your work in print in a future anthology.

The anthology containing the winning entries of the 2015 and 2016 competitions is available to buy at our meetings or online at: http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/norwich-writers-circle-anthology-2017-stepping-out/paperback/product-23103350.html

Copies are £7 each plus postage (where applicable).

Stepping out Front 2.0

The NWC would like to thank Frank Meeres for giving his talk, the Norfolk Museum Services for their generous offer of help – particularly Charles for coming to the gala and for his steadfast support.  Finally, we would like to thank Ralph Jackman for his enthusiasm and thoroughness, as well as for agreeing to be our adjudicator.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Meet Ralph Jackman

On Tuesday 4th April, Ralph Jackman, author of Actium’s Wake, is coming to give a talk to the NWC.

Ralph will be talking about his career and answering any questions.

If you would like to meet him, and chat and with other writers at the group, please come along to our meeting at Anteros Arts Foundation on Fye Bridge Road Norwich.  The meeting starts at 7:30 PM.  Light refreshments will also be served.

anteros-map

Don’t forget, Ralph will also be out adjudicator for the Olga Sinclair Short Story Competition.

We hope to see you there!

Norwich Writers' Circle

Slanting The Truth

On Tuesday 7th March we welcomed Sally Craythorne (S. E. Craythorne), author of How You See Me, to give a talk on reliable narrators.

SallyCraythorne

Her talk was informative and fun and everyone learned that no narrator can truly be trusted.

“We want things to make sense.  So if something doesn’t make sense we kind of pull it into the schema of our knowledge …  Memory is an active process and can be therefore unreliable.  If you’ve got a first-person narrator recounting a story, it’s their story, it’s probably not truth, even if you’re making it up.  They will be fallible.”

– Sally Craythorne

Sally went on to describe the five main types of unreliable narrators:

1. The Picario:

A narrator who exaggerates and brags.

Example: Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

2. The Madman

A narrator with a mental impairment.

Example: Before I go to Sleep by S. J Watson.

3. The Clown

A narrator who does not take narration seriously and deliberately plays with the subject of the narration.

Example: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

4. The Naive

An immature narrator with a limited POV – this could be a child.

Example: Until I Find You by John Irving.

5. The Liar

An in-tune narrator with a sound knowledge who deliberately lies and misrepresents events, usually events or actions they don’t want to reader to know about.

Example: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

“… traditionally all narrators are unreliable to some extent and that’s part of the joy of reading them – that you get carried away with the story and then you go ‘hang on, do I know this person at all?’.  But … if you do want to make your narrator unreliable, which is really good fun, you have to believe in them.  You have to think about the fact that your reader has to read that book all the way to the end … Their unreliability is to make them real rather than to make them completely unreadable.”

– Sally Craythorne

With this in mind, we then discussed our fourth competition of the year: The Ivy Ferrari Cup.  Traditionally, this contest was for romance fiction but in recent years it evolved to focus on strong, central female characters.

So, what is Sally looking for in winning entries?

First, all entries must follow the theme of motherhood.  This can be a mother, either biological or foster/adoptive.  It could follow somebody with motherly qualities who cares for another person who does not have to be a child or even related.  This person could be a grandmother, or friend, or even a nurse.  It is up to you to explore and bring out the fullest of this theme – the only stipulation is that the character must be female.

Sally is specifically looking for:

  • Diversity
  • Believable characters
  • Good story

The story must also be fiction but it can be any genre.  Although Sally is looking for realism, she is happy for any genre ranging from contemporary to sci-fi.

Your narrator does not need to be unreliable either.

As the word limit is only 2000 words, it is advisable to stick to a minimal cast of characters.

The deadline for the contest is 4th April. Entry is free to NWC members, or £3 for non-members.  For full details of the competition, please visit the competition page.

The NWC would like to thank Sally for her thought-provoking talk and excellent advice.  We would also like to thank everyone who attended.

Our next meeting is Tuesday 21st March at the Anteros Arts Foundation.  Phyllida and Gill will announce the winners of the Impressing the Publisher competition.

We hope to see you there!

anteros-map

Save

Norwich Writers' Circle

A Productive Evening

Our manuscript evening on Tuesday 21st February was a success.  We welcomed three visitors and one new member.

manuscript-evening-1

We tried a slightly different format than usual, breaking off into smaller groups.  Those who brought work waited for each member of the group to read it and then received feedback.  Overall, the evening was productive, enjoyable and informative.

We had the pleasure of reading poetry, fantasy, historical fiction, young adult, comedy, biography, academic and science fiction.

Our next manuscript evening is 20th June.

In the meantime, our next meeting is Tuesday 7th March.  Not only will we be launching our third competition of the year, but S. E. Craythorne, the adjudicator, will be giving a talk about the joys and struggles of working with an unreliable narrator as well as exploring how ‘reliable’ any realistic narrator can be.

We hope to see you there.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Manuscript Evening

WordPress Writing Brown Pen

We’re having a manuscript evening on Tuesday 21st February.  Attendees will be able to read their work in small groups and receive constructive feedback.

You can bring poetry, fiction, non-fiction – whatever you’re working on, we’d love to read it!

If you are interested in joining us, please bring a sample of no more than 750 words of your work.  You will need to bring six printed copies so they can be handed out for feedback.

If you do not have access to a printer, Phyllida Scrivens, our chair, has kindly offered to print them out and bring them to the meeting.  Please email them with the subject ‘manuscript evening’ to:

phyllida.scrivens@icloud.com

Please include your name and the title of your work in the email to make it easier to hand them out on the night.

Our meeting will be at 7:30pm at Anteros Arts Foundation on Fye Bridge Street in Norwich, opposite The Mischief Pub.

anteros-map

We look forward to seeing you.

Norwich Writers' Circle

Rib-Tickling Results

Local author Sheridan Winn returned on Tuesday 7th February to announce the winners of the Colin Sutton Cup for Humour.

The winners were:

1st Place –  Aubrey Hex: Snow White and the Ruby Slippers by Kathy Joy.

Sheridan’s comments:

‘Excellent blurb that built well and would make you want to pick up the book. Liked the over-sized ‘fairy-come-private-investigator’, Aubrey, and the grim sense of humour.  The intro set the scene and I liked the way you were straight into the action.’

2nd Place – Butterfingers Horses Around by James Ashley.

Sheridan’s comments:

‘This made me smile – a bit like a rude post card.  The author of this was clearly having fun as he wrote it – rollicking along.  The blurb is loopy and mad – I get the idea of where the story will go and the setting.  I think it’s pitched at older kids and young adults.

The intro is amusing but – in terms of writing – there’s a danger of putting in too many images and over-writing. ‘Purr’ doesn’t need 15 x ‘r’!’

3rd Place – Captain Webby and the Bathtub Crew by Phyllida Scrivens.

Sheridan’s comments:

‘Good series title and nice book title.  It would make a charming series of picture books for very young children – bath/board books.  Gentle humour.

Very well written blurb – clear and made me want to pick up the book.  Love the photos.’

 

colin-sutton-cup-winners
From left to right: 1st place winner Kathy Joy, adjudicator Sheridan Winn and 3rd place winner Phyllida Scrivens.

Congratulations to the winners!

All the entries were superb.  It wasn’t easy for our adjudicator to pick the winners, so we’d like to thank all those who entered and also thank Sheridan Winn for her thorough judging.

On top of getting to hear some rib-tickling entries, attendees were given the chance to look at and purchase copies of Stepping Out, our new anthology.

anthology in group.jpg

The NWC would like to thank everyone who has bought one so far.

If you are interested in a copy you can purchase them at our meetings, or online at:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/norwich-writers-circle-anthology-2017-stepping-out/paperback/product-23019691.html

Our next meeting is a manuscript evening on Tuesday 21st February where you will get a chance to read an extract of up to 750 words of work and get feedback from the group.

If you are coming, please bring six copies of your extract to the meeting so they can be handed out for feedback.  You can bring poetry, non-fiction, fiction, an article or blog post.  Whatever it is, we’d love to read it.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch: norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk

We hope to see you then!

Norwich Writers' Circle

The Anthology Is Ready

We are pleased to announce that Stepping Out, our new anthology, is finally ready.  Anyone who filled in our interest form should be contacted shortly.

We can confirm the cost is £7.00 plus postage (where applicable).

Books will now be available to buy at our meetings.  Alternatively, you can order them online:

http://www.lulu.com/shop/various-authors/norwich-writers-circle-anthology-2017-stepping-out/paperback/product-23019691.html

front-cover