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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:

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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!

 

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.

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

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

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“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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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