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Funny Bones at the Ready

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Photo courtesy of Cameron McDonald of McDonald Images

Last evening we welcomed Lynne Mortimer, much-loved columnist with various newspapers in the Archant family.  For those of you who were unable to attend, you missed an amusing and inspirational talk from Lynne about her 25 years as a journalist.  Lynne gave us a comprehensive ‘heads-up’ for how to tackle the next competition for the much-coveted Colin Sutton Cup for Humour.  In view of the number of absentees I hope you will find this information useful and I encourage you to enter even if you were not there last evening.

Her first job was as a mature mum of 35, writing for the Evening Star in Ipswich.  During her children’s teenage years she wrote under a pseudonym to save their blushes!  Lynne spoke about the panic of working to strict deadlines and of having to come up with 1,000 words every week on a different topic.  She explained how her inspiration comes from her own life, the importance of writing the truth at the core of every column and how she scours newspapers for ideas when she is stuck!

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Photo courtesy of Cameron McDonald of McDonald Images

In the past her stories have covered Waspi Women, weight-loss, public toilets, the Menopause (both female and male), the abuse of Parent & Child parking spaces, grammatical errors, energy saving light bulbs, her husband, grandchildren and her mother-in-law!  But never Brexit, religion, death, disability or mental illness. She certainly has her own “red lines” and always tries to keep her columns light-hearted and entertaining.

The Competition:

“Take one small frustrating life incident and expand it into a humorous article of 1,000-2,000 words.  It can draw upon similar frustrations or veer off somewhere else, but at the end of the piece it should return to the original incident, featuring a final pithy sentence or two.”

The deadline for entries is Tuesday 7th May, which is our next Manuscript/Critique evening.  If you are unable to attend please be sure to mail or email your entry to our Competitions Secretary Marian Pearson.  Details can be found at this link.

https://norwichwriters.wordpress.com/competitions/guidelines/

Good luck everyone!

On a different topic, your committee will be meeting next Tuesday to agree the arrangements and menu for the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition Launch Night on Tuesday 16th April, when we will be offered gin tasters courtesy of sponsor Black Shuck Ltd of Fakenham, and meet our adjudicator Piers Warren, author of Black Shuck: The Devil’s Dog.  Do bring your partners and friends to our party. £7 door fee for non-members includes light buffet with wine, teas and coffees.

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A Talk to Go Down in History

On Tuesday 19th March we welcomed the award winning historical fiction writer Rory Clements to talk to use about his books, his writing process, and what led him to write historical fiction.

 

When asked whether he considers himself to be a historian or a novelist first, Rory commented:

“I’m definitely a novelist first. I’m no a historian. I didn’t go to university, I didn’t study history. But I’m very widely read – I read huge amounts of history and when I fix on a subject – say like the Babington plot, I’m probably one of the worlds experts for a few months on that subject and then I forget it all … But I do a lot of research, I do take it very seriously trying to get the historical background as close as I can to what I think it is.”

Clements explained that he had been inspired to write by his uncle, who ran away at a young age to become a sailor. He wrote many books about his adventures, which made Clements want to be an author.

He started out as a journalist, but soon moved on. During this time he read extensively, which helped him become the writer he is today.

Clements went on to talk more about historical fiction:

“Historical fiction vs history … I went to Oxford University to argue with a lot of historians who were sort of knocking down historical fiction. I think it has a real place in out life. I think we fill in the skeleton. History is a skeleton. There’s a lot missing from it … the fiction writer can fill that in and hopefully bring history to a lot more people in that way.”

After answering a variety of questions form the group, Clements has some excellent advice to offer anyone thinking of writing historical fiction:

What you’re trying to find first and foremost if you’re writing about a time long ago is you’ve got to find a voice …  you can’t write in  Elizabethan English you can’t write in Shakespearean English, because nobody would read it. They simply wouldn’t. Nor can you write in twentieth century English slang. You have to find something in the in-between… you don’t want it jarring to the reader.

The NWC would like to thank Rory Clements for his frank and open advice and intriguing stories. We’d also like to thank everyone who attended and had plenty of questions to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

Norwich Writers' Circle, Uncategorized

Prepare to self-edit!

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Our next meeting will be on Tuesday the 5th of February at 19:30 at Chantry Hall, Norwich. We are to welcome back Kathy Joy of Fine Tune Your Fiction, a professional critique service, this time to run a workshop on self editing.

Rather than focusing on grammar and spelling, etc Kathy will run through how to edit the content of your story and look critically at establishing a strong point of view, character development, plot, showing versus telling and so on.

In order to participate, please bring a 1500-2000 word excerpt from a current work in progress (fiction only). Ideally you should bring a hard copy, double space, but you are welcome to work from a laptop or tablet, though please be advised there are limited plug sockets.

It would also help to bring some paper or a notebook,and plenty of pens and pencils so you can make notes.

business college composition desk

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

norwichwriters@hotmail.com

We hope to see you there.

 

 

 

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Jumpin’ Jack Flash

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Our first meeting of new season kicked off in style with our speaker Keiron Pim, where he discussed how got started in his career, from starting out working for the EDP, to how he came to write a book about dinosaurs, to finally getting to work on his life’s obsession.

At the end, he graciously read from his book.

The NWC would like to thank Keiron for such an extensive and intriguing talk.

Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting.

 

 

 

 

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Goodbye until September…

The NWC has officially broken up for summer.

Our next meeting will be on 18th SEPTEMBER 2018 at 7:30pm at our new location in Chantry Hall.  

 

 

We have a full programme in store with manuscript evenings, workshops, and speakers including Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing, and Mitch Johnson, author of Kick.

If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch: norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk

And don’t forget your entry into the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition.

We hope everyone has a wonderful summer, and we hope to see you in September.

 

 

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Our last meeting of the season

Tuesday 3rd of July was our annual general meeting, and the last meeting of the season. It was also our last meeting at Anteros. In September we will move to Chantry Hall.

Other changes to the group include:

Door fees will be changing. Members will continue to pay £3, while guests will pay as follows:

  • Speaker evenings the door fee for guests will be £7.
  • Other meetings, including workshops and adjudications, will be £5.

It was also the time to give out the trophies to the winners throughout the year:

  • The Cooper Prize – Iain Andrews
  • Past Search Prize for Non Fiction – Phyllida Scrivens
  • Colin Sutton cup for Humour – Phyllida Scrivens
  • Overall Trophy – Phyllida Scrivens

 

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We hope everyone has enjoyed this season as much as we have, and we look forward to seeing you in September. The new programme is live on the website. Remember, we’re moving premises, so we will be meeting at Chantry Hall:

CHANTRY HOUSE MAP

CHANTRY HALL

 

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Another manuscript evening is around the corner.

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We will be holding a manuscript evening on Tuesday 6th March at 19:30 at Anteros Arts Foundation, 11-15 Fye Bridge St, Norwich NR3 1LJ.

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This will be a good place to put those critique skills from the previous workshop to good use!

Please bring in a maximum of 1000 words to be critiqued in the group. Work will be looked at it small groups, so please ensure that you bring 6 copies, double spaced, with the font at least 12pt and preferably Times New Roman, or Ariel.

If you do not have access to a printer, please email the piece you wish to work on to norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk. Please be sure to use the subject ‘Manuscript evening’ and please include your name and the story title somewhere in email.

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Keeping it constructive

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“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.”

― Frank A. Clark

 

On Tuesday 6th February we ran a workshop on how to give a critique. Kathy Joy, who runs her own critique business called Fine Tune Your Fiction, walked us through the process.

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First, we discussed constructive criticism.

Kathy defined constructive criticism as having 5 main characteristics:

  • It is specific – it clearly states what the problem is, and why it is a problem.
  • It presents solutions instead of problems. 
  • It focuses on the work not the author.
  • It is never personal.
  • It makes no assumptions.

In addition, Kathy explained that these rules applied to both positive and negative criticism. Positive praise that is not specific and does not explain exactly what was so good and why is empty praise, which is a form of destructive criticism.

Next, the group was walked through how to assess a manuscript and give a critique in four simple stages:

  • First, the group was asked to read through the work. No markings or notes were allowed – the task was simply to take in the story and become familiar with what was happening, who the characters were, where it was set, and so on.
  • The second stage was using a red pen to highlight any weaker areas, but also be able to explain specifically what wasn’t working, and why.
  • The third stage was using a blue pen to highlight stronger areas. Once again attendees had to zero in on the specifics – what was good and why.
  • The final stage was to pick a single weak area and suggest a way to resolve it. This was the first and crucial stage to giving a critique.

critique-4.jpg“The most important part of any critique is to ensure your suggestions are not how you would do it if you were writing it, because it’s not your work. An editor’s job is not to impose their style on other authors but instead to cultivate an author’s voice, to refine it. To do this, you must look at the work and try to understand what the author was trying to do and think of a more effective way to achieve it that fits the existing content.”

-Kathy Joy

Everyone managed to highlight a specific weak area and most could come up with a possible solution to it.

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Overall the workshop went exceptionally well, with everyone learning something new, which can be applied going forward.

“Much like how reading more helps you become a better writer, so does learning to critique. Seeking out strengths and weaknesses in the work of others makes you more sensitive to it in your own work.”

-Kathy Joy

The NWC would like to thank everyone who attended.We would also like to thank Kathy for walking us through the process of analysing work and offering effective, constructive criticism.

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17/18 Programme now up!

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The wait is over. Our new programme for the new season is now up on the website and details all the fun we have planned from September!

Our first meeting is at 7:30pm on Tuesday 19th of September where we welcome Elly Griffiths, popular crime writer, alongside Alison Bruce a fellow crime writer who will be launching our first competition of the season.  The meeting will be held at Anteros Gallery on Fye Bridge street. Entry is £5 on the door for non-members and £3 for members.

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We hope to see you there!

Interested in becoming a member? If so please visit our membership page for more details.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk.

 

 

Norwich Writers' Circle

Reading Up A Storm

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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!