Next meeting & dates to end 2019 on poster …

Get them in your diary!

Why not write and share with us?

WRITTEN PIECE

Anyone can bring some text to share up to a maximum of 200 words. See Topic …

JUNE TOPIC

“You walk through a door and find a surprise, shock, something unexpected.” Let your imagination flow. Go with it.

Sharing is something you’ll enjoy … we’re all in this together. Feedback is supportive and helpful.

A blog about our last meeting approaches readiness. You know deadlines and all that.

Blog with us. Got something to share? Get in touch.

Get involved in producing blogs for our site. There are other opportunities in Colinsburgh Library and, elsewhere in our community.

Dyslexia

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Meeting Report 8th April

Welcome!

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Kilconquhar Loch – a quiet garden for contemplation and inspiration.

Good to see old friends and this time a new face! Always welcome to add new experiences and interests.

French Connection

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For this meeting, one of our existing members happened to be in France, so instead of missing the meeting all together we decided to link up using Skype. Would it work technically or meet our needs? It did! Not only could we interact throughout the general discussion, it even worked when we split up into groups. Whilst we do not plan to use it all the time, it is worthwhile knowing that this can be achieved.

Writing Software

Our new member had been interested in the discussion, in last month’s blog, about the different types of writing software available.

We continue to explore this topic but feel we would have to gather more information and perhaps look at functions, applications, pros and cons. We will return to this but meanwhile, if anyone has experience in this area and can offer advice, please get in touch. Happy to collate information and share.

Loglines

As a group, we had agreed to come prepared with our own example of a Logline.

What is a logline? – a very brief and enthusing synopsis of a script, screenplay or book, which includes a hook to stimulate interest. Usually one sentence but can be two.

You need:

  • Character
  • Want
  • Obstacle

It must be:

  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Creative

Here are some of our example loglines

  • Sam Duncan, must stay alive, find the people who want him dead and stop them killing his little sister…who they’ve mislaid.
  • It’s a hot summer in Braeness, where visitors and locals mingle during the annual festival. Gossip abounds, old scores are settled, and many lives changed, not necessarily for the better.
  • The past cannot be changed but can the truth? No matter how far down you bury a lie, somehow the truth will dig it back up again.
  • The shepherd travelled far and wide and learned his treasure was already within him.
  • Sir Edward Feathers QC, an aged and mysterious barrister, reflects on his eventful life in London and Hong Kong, giving a glimpse of the British Empire, through his mordantly funny wit.   

What did we learn? That it is much harder than it looks! The question came up, “What is the difference between a logline and a mission statement? Good question, which we will return to, once we have mastered the former! 

Character Development exercise

Over refreshments, we split into two groups and each group set the other a challenge to create a character in fifteen minutes. These were:

  • an angry, destructive teacher
  • a co-dependent, addictive woman

To help us, Mac prepared a help sheet with ten points and questions, to use as prompts. These included the character’s:

  • goals, motivation, purpose which will become important
  • fears, flaws, insecurities and how these might affect their success
  • story-helping history and what is happening to them now
  • personality traits or quirks that will prove to be significant
  • name and how this will shape their emerging role

This proved to be an interesting experience, not least because we were working with others; writing can be a solitary business and working alone, we tend to get our own way! A valuable checklist, which we will no doubt use again.

Our Writing

To finish off the evening we shared our individual writing on the theme “jealousy”, in 200 words maximum, which we had agreed upon at the end of last month’s meeting. This was really enjoyable and what struck us was the variety of angles and styles that everyone took. Happily, the general consensus was that everyone had hit the brief successfully. Some of our examples are available here. See what you think!

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LOGLINE

On the basis of our follow-up discussion we decided to do a further example for the next meeting but this time on a standardised storyline. The advantage of this is that everyone knows the story and we can compare outcomes.

A logline tells the essence of a story. We chose Cinderella.

Next Meeting, 13th May, 2019

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Why not write and share with us?

LOGLINE

On the basis of our follow-up discussion we decided to do a further example for the next meeting but this time on a standardised storyline. The advantage of this is that everyone knows the story and we can compare outcomes.

A fairy tale tells a story, in its simplest form, so we chose Cinderella. Let’s see what we come up with!

WRITTEN PIECE

Anyone who wants to, can bring some text to share up to a maximum of 300 words. The topic can be anything you like. Last time we had exceptional readings on a variety of topics. The contributions were engaging and of surprising depth.

Gale Winskill

Find out more about Gale at http://winskilleditorial.co.uk/. We have a blog from her here.

April 8 Meeting Report

A blog about our last meeting approaches readiness. But then again, you know what deadlines are like…

Blog with us. Got something to share? Get in touch.

Directions? Why not come along … and enjoy a pleasant evening, with interesting people who are into writing?

Come blog with us … Let’s blog let’s blog away.

Get involved in producing blogs for our site. There are other opportunities in Colinsburgh Library and, elsewhere in our community.

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Mac

 

Meeting Report 13 May – Editing

Welcome to our editing session

This evening we welcomed our invited guest, Gale Winskill, who taught us lots about editing.

Editing is simple … isn’t it?

photo of editor Gale WinskillGale Winskill is a professional editor, living in Fife, who came to give us an introduction to what an editor actually does. My line of work, as with so many others, suffers from a general lack of awareness of just how much is involved, behind the scenes. All the attention to detail that may not be immediately apparent but is needed to make the final product look smooth and seamless.

Everything has its front of house – the facade that is presented to the world – but ask a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a builder, a chef, a shopkeeper and they will all tell you just how much training, skill and experience is involved in that final product. The same applies to editing.

Reasonably armed, or so I thought, I went along to the meeting. Whatever I thought, you can multiply that by about ten because there was so much to learn!

Gale’s background

On her website, Gale freely admits that her unconventional and indirect path into her chosen career came from a lifelong love of reading and the fact that she will happily read anything.

She has travelled and worked abroad extensively, been an in-house and freelance editor. On top of that, she has a good working knowledge of several languages and is an Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).

What’s more, she is very personable, putting you at your ease: an important point in building a working relationship between author and editor. She is a highly skilled communicator, getting her points over objectively and succinctly. This is my take on Gale’s presentation – a daunting task considering Gale’s expertise. Fingers crossed and apologies in advance!

So what does an editor do?

Gale’s view is that a book needs to be the best it can be. A bad review is no joke and by that time, it is too late – the damage has been done. This is even more important in the age of social media, when reviews and opinions spread so quickly. However, the author is too close to their own work to turn out the final product.

That’s where an editor’s role really comes in. They need an objective eye and to be time efficient. It is helpful if they are positive, rather than negative but equally so, the author must be prepared to accept suggestions, not as critisism.

Gale believes that an editor is the ultimate reveiwer, asking the question, “Why?” It is their job to identify problems that any future reader may spot and bring them to the attention of the writer, so that they can address them, prior to going into print.

Proofreading versus Copy-editing

This was the title of a handout that Gale brought from the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. It had the following, thought provoking, quote by Gerard M-F Hill, which clearly shows the complexity of the task at hand.

“Copy-editing and proofreading are both editing, which is wrestling with words; but proofreading is like wrestling in a broom cupboard.”

Then of course, you have…

Structural editing

Structural editing deals with the big picture, looking at content, organization and pacing. Gale gave us numerous examples of this: logic of the story topic, pace/flow, gaps or holes, characters, genre, style of language, suitability of content, age appropriateness, to name but a few. There are many more but watch this space for a future workshop!

Copy-editing

This asks the question, ” Is the story sound?” “Does it make sense?”

It also includes many more issues such as punctuation, grammar, factual inaccuracy, consistency of house style, formatting and legal issues.

Proofreading

This is the final stage and includes layout, further checking for spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, minor changes in sense, consistency, references and index formatting.

Any clearer?

Well yes, absolutely enlightened and eager for more.

If like me, this has whetted your appetite, then go on to Gale’s website to find out more. Many questions from members came up throughout the evening and no doubt more will come up in the coming months.

I for one, look forward to catching up with Gale again at one of our future meetings. Thanks Gale!

For more information visit:

http://www.winskilleditorial.co.uk/ 

© Jenny Hoggan

Writers on ‘Jealousy’ April 2019

Mrs Louboutin

Each day, you’d drift in, hair perfectly straightened, clothes neatly pressed: a pristine white t-shirt or top, a pastel cardigan casually draped over your shoulders, lightly coloured expensively cut trousers, a waft of expensive perfume in your wake.

You’d spend lunch time complaining bitterly that glue or paint had ruined your much admired clothing, about how much it had cost. You’d look straight at me, expecting me to magic up a clothes allowance from an already meagre budget. I wish I had been able to. Just to shut you up. Instead, I joined the others in making sympathetic noises whilst we patted down Primark skirts and trousers, wondering why you wore such clothes to work. I knew why. It was all about status.

Your shoes were your pride and joy. They gave the biggest hint of all about just how much you spent. I lost count of the number of times you wore red soles. We knew they were red, because you insisted on taking them off or adjusting them every break time. I was tempted with the black paint! Just a little nudge would have done. It’s one of my biggest regrets!

You actually believed that you were better than us all, that you were the duchess of the work place. You made sure your conversations were steeped in what I’ll call, ‘economics’, about how much you had saved, your husband’s salary, that kind of thing. Others could only listen, as they frantically wished for payday to come around. I simply wondered why you worked at all.

Then you worked out, through various conversations, but without any hint for me, well not much of one, that my ‘economics’ were greater that yours. And that unleashed the bitch from inside you. The cruel comments, the long calculating looks from my head to my toes began in earnest. I was excluded. No wine nights, no drinks or coffees after work for me. Did I care? No. Because by then only you and I knew just how much of a cold calculating bitch you were, that your red soles should have been green.

© Joy Deacon

To have and to hold. To bloody hold?

Brian turned away from the couple and focused his eyes on the sandstone wall, trying to cloud her beauty from his mind.

It wasn’t all Scott’s fault. The times he had told himself that. And they were pals, after all. Had been since they met, really. The day he charged into a lecture room, his blond hair unkempt as though he had just woken up, all smiles, apologies and correct answers.

They had shared a pint, a laugh, a joint and eventually a flat; a life, almost – until she turned up.

For that, he blamed himself. Brian had met her at a party, the prettiest girl there. Instead of staying and dancing to some average hip-hop, he suggested they went for a drink. In the taxi he texted Scott: PINT? He had since convinced himself that he hadn’t subconsciously meant to show-off, but deep down he felt it, that need to prove a point to this mate who somehow always stole the spotlight.

A few days and a couple of unanswered texts later, she was at his door, not for him, but for his pal. An awkward raised eyebrow from her, a good old pat on the back by way of apology from Scott, and off they went.

Now, here he was less than a year later, watching his loss unfurl. He glanced back to his mate, his hair groomed, ski-tan barely fading, a grey suit hugging his frame like a model. Brian wore exactly the same threads – as best man it had been his idea – but somehow his just felt lank, ill-fitting and uneasy.

Best man? Oh the irony of that statement!

Best man while the not so best one got to have, and to hold, and whatever ever else he damn well pleased with this goddess of a girl. His girl. 

© Andy Frazier

The Watcher

The cold crept through his body, like the jealousy crept through his brain. Insidious, eroding his defences in waves. How had he come to this particular place: this street, this state of mind? He did not wish to be here, either physically or spiritually. Their relationship had seemed solid. Three years and it had not crossed his mind to doubt her. He had thought this might be it, whatever it was.

But then she had moved job. Taken up a position in a new office, in the heart of the city.

Her hours had changed, become unpredictable. Travel took up more time and was unreliable. More worrying was the change in her appearance, even her demeanour. The distance between them had grown imperceptibly, like tectonic plates drifting under their feet. He had tried to reach out across the gap but felt no hands reaching back. Suspicion had grown like a vine around a tree trunk.

Mistrust of even the smallest detail had brought him to this point, when he had decided to follow her. Now, staring up at a lit window, above a row of shabby shops, what was he hoping for? Whatever it was, he was about to find out, as she appeared in the unknown doorway.

© Jenny Hoggan

Carve Up

It’s always the same. Every time. It makes me so, so, so… angry. I watch carefully: the blade, the chopping, the squeals, the sniggering … God, I hate it! I hate them! My teeth grind so hard they squeak.

It’s happening again, now. This time the knife’s in my hand … ha! ha! ooh…

I enjoy the cutting. Hmm, look at ’em, eyes bulging with fear, and they can’t do anything, haha! … but watch. Oh my, I’m drooling, excited. Let ’em glance all they want. The power is MINE!

OOoh! The edge slices into the squishy stuff in the middle. I so enjoy his groan and the sticky pull of the blade; the way his face screws up. I saw back and forwards. Another groan, such fun.

With a final crunch Willie’s eyes stick out like organ stops. My triumph is complete.

What’s that? He get’s to choose? It’s not fair, Mum, he always gets the biggest bit. I cry. The Creme Egg is split… and I’m going to lose out … AGAIN!

© Mac Logan

Neologisms: Author’s prerogative or editor’s bugbear?

neologism[nee-ol-uh-jiz-uh m]noun
1. a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase.
2. the introduction or use of new words or new senses of existing words. Dictionary.com

Gale Winskill
Gale Winskill, Editor

I asked my editor and friend (apart from when we’re having a dust-up about my writing) for an editor-sort-of-blog for us. Mac.Gale joins us on 13 May.

Creative invention, author-style

Fiction is clearly the realm of creative invention, so when authors dream up and posit neologisms in their narratives isn’t that just what they do? Without them, the world would definitely be a poorer place. Consider a few which now form part of our daily lexicon: Dr Seuss’s ‘Grinch’, Joseph’s Heller’s ‘Catch 22’, or Sheridan’s ‘malapropism’. All are now used without conscious thought for their origins, and embody laudable contributions to the continuing evolution of the English language.

Enhance and expand

But it’s not just authors who enhance our ever-widening vocabulary. The young are nothing if not inventive utilizers of words. Think, ‘lit’, ‘sick’ … The words may have been re-appropriated, yet modern coinage doesn’t dispense with past meanings; it merely expands, enriches, provides a fresh, innovative spin – vocabulary is revitalized and reinvented through usage.

What’s a ‘muggle’ got to do with this?

In the same way, new words and meanings only exist and come into common parlance via fiction if they resonate with the reader. Without JK Rowling’s phenomenal worldwide success, ‘muggle’ would probably not have endured, and yet it is now defined by the OED as: in her novels, ‘a person who possesses no magical powers’; and by extension, in the real world, ‘a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way’. But without that initial common understanding among like-minded readers, with the same narrative frame of reference, that particular seed might not have germinated.
So, when working on an author’s text, what is the editor’s role in this regard? Is there a point at which editors should perhaps dissuade authors from certain linguistic creations? Are some inventions just too ridiculous to consider? Or does anything go?

Editor’s role

A fiction editor’s most important function is to stand in for the ultimate reader. If there is a word, albeit extant or unique, that grates or feels out of place in the context of the novel, surely the editor is obligated to highlight and substantiate this concern to the writer.

An editor can only advise, guide and identify how other readers might perceive the author’s diction. It is then up to the author to either defend that usage, or agree that perhaps their editor might just have a point.
After all, on the face of it, A.A. Milne’s ‘Heffalump’ may not suit as the moniker of an East End gangster. Then again, as Pooh knows, ‘Heffalumps hardly ever get caught’, this protagonist is particularly evasive, and the novel a black comedy. But in an otherwise hard-hitting thriller, if a reserved and measured character ‘cackle-laughs’ and ‘angry-chews’ his way repeatedly through the narrative, an editor might suggest that perhaps such hyphenated inventions detract from the characterization, feel out of context and jar on the textual fluidity.

Something old … something new

Authors create; editors make them think. But authors always make the final decision. The result might be a ‘serendipitous’ (Horace Walpole) addition to the English language or the possible loss of a ‘quark’ (James Joyce). As authorial privilege or editorial irritant, successful neologisms form a fundamental aspect of the lexicographers’ ‘whodunnit’ (Donald Gordon), ‘bedazzling’ (Shakespeare) and exasperating us in equal measure with their ‘hard-boiled’ (Mark Twain) persistence.

© Gale Winskill, Winskill Editorial

Meeting 4th March, report

Feels like we’re getting the hang of this! At our first meeting everything seemed strange and new. A bit stressful if I’m honest.

Getting organised, opening the building, getting the heating right, where to sit, what to speak about, meeting new people, making them welcome. It was early days for a new group.

Winter weather, Christmas holidays and the dark days of January all took their toll. Burn’s Night gave those with a poetic leaning, a glimmer of inspiration. Our first meeting of 2019 brought new faces, different experiences and new ideas for discussion and exploration.

Meeting

March was our second of 2019. I feel we are beginning to tune into peoples’ needs and move ideas forward.

I’m relatively new to all of this and I was fascinated to discover that there are all kinds of things out there to help budding writers:

  • software
  • apps
  • helpful blogs
  • websites

Sure, there are many aspiring new writers, scarily many, but help is there and accessible.

I thought I was doing well ordering my shopping online but words like Scrivener and AutoCrit have now entered my vocabulary, alongside Creative Writing Ink and WordPress. All have been stored away for further investigation.

The other thing that became immediately apparent is that people are happy to share, to listen and be supportive. I for one had used storyboards to teach young children but it had not crossed my mind that I could use them to develop my own writing.

For instance, at the February meeting Andy Frazier showed us an example of how he uses a story board for script writing. Check out Andy’s blog, which gives a basic introduction.

In the beginning

At the beginning of our early group meetings we quickly gave a brief history of what we were interested in and, perhaps, current projects. This helped us get to know each other and our aspirations.

Finding old masterpieces

One group member brought along a folder containing her old writing notes. I’m not even sure if she’d had time to look through them. But it’s surprising how looking back can refresh your ideas.

By the end of the evening she had shared a piece of work that mattered to her. We were glad she found the confidence to do that because it was a wee hidden gem, which we found, mattered to us too. It was a powerful piece, well considered, thought provoking and relevant.

Another member, who had not shared her work at this group before, shared a poem she had penned a while back. She is interested in imagery and it became strongly apparent that she has the ability to convey her ideas through this medium. Thank you both!

Getting published

Not the Life Imagined by [Pettigrew, Anne]One of our returning members explained that a friend of hers, from another writing group, has recently had her first novel published. Whilst this is not necessarily the immediate aim for everyone, in the first instance, it did make our ears prick up.

I for one was subsequently well impressed to find it, with ease, on the Internet. What’s more, with very favourable reviews! Anne Pettigrew, Not the life Imagined.

Using a song

The same member had been interested in taking Andy Frazier’s idea from our last meeting, of using song lyrics for the basis of a short story. Her chosen song was Every Breath You Take by The Police.

Now, like me, you may think of the lyrics as coming from the mouth of a broken-hearted lover. Many couples choose it to play at their wedding. Sting had just separated from his first wife to start a relationship with the person who would subsequently become his second wife, when he wrote it.

However, what if you put a different slant on the words? As our member pointed out, they can have a totally different meaning; the words of a stalker, controlling and menacing. Try listening to them again. She used this to great effect in her resulting short story.

If you come along …

Why not drop in and find out what our group is like. You don’t have to do or bring anything, but you can if you like. You can read a short extract from some on-going writing … anything really … and, of course, you can always try our preparation suggestions, below.

At our March meeting we heard:

  • two brief short stories
  • a poem
  • a chunk of non-fiction
  • an extract of Scottish Historic fantasy-fiction
  • a personal reflection

People responded in helpful and interested ways.

As one of the short story writers, when preparing, I was stumped for a new idea and, for the first time, Googled “creative writing prompts“.

I can recommend it because there are lots, and I found something that ‘clicked’ with me straight away. Job done!

Mac tells me he wrote a blog on writers-block a while back.

Next meeting

From the first, we have been keen to steer the group in the direction members need and want. To that end we had a discussion and agreed on two things for next time.

  • Choose any book and create a logline for it

Image result for logline

A logline is a sentence which summarises a TV programme, film or book that states the central conflict of the story. It often provides both a  synopsis of the plot and an emotional “hook” to stimulate interest. And …

  • write up to 200 words on the theme “jealousy” – whatever it means to you – fiction, non-fiction, a poem, a song … you choose.

Why not come along and share your ideas? Hope to see you soon!

© Jenny Hoggan