Did you ever? Another year gone and here we are leaping forward into 2020.
In the way of hectic times our best laid plans for blog posts, news and content fell by the wayside. We hasten to deny over-indulgence and wild-society is in any way responsible for omissions.
Get down to it
Our next meeting is on Monday 27th January from 7 pm (technically) in Colinsburgh Library reading room. More information here. We look forward to welcoming you and hearing your craic and, if you care, some writing.
Preparation – on a Burns theme
We know at least one person isn’t a Burns fan. Because of this we thought we’d invite up to 300 words on one of the following topics:
As usual there will be tea/coffee, biscuits and who knows?
Please remember that some of our members are ‘deef’ (have hearing impairment) and would be grateful to have copies of contributions to read. This helps them follow the reading. Please bring three copies to share.
If you have a printing problem, please drop a copy to either Jenny or Mac and they will print them before the meeting. Any issues, use the contact form.
Let’s create a blogging group to coordinate and encourage the production of relevant content on our website. We’ll happily run a training session to help out. The steps we envisage:
Agree who is going to do it
Agree on what we want to achieve: blether? content? poems? ideas?
Decide on what training is wanted
Agree our programme
Develop our site
It’s been a while since our festive bash. Looking forward to seeing you on Monday.
Great to have another new person interested in our group. She writes poetry and would like help to edit her work, with a view to publishing. Luckily we have the very person for the job and so have put them in touch with each other. Looking forward to finding out how that has gone, at the July meeting.
We quickly agreed an agenda for the evening, conscious that, as a group, we try to fit the content, to the needs of those who attend.
Blog on editor’s visit
Jenny read out a report on Gale Winskill’s visit in May. Gale is a professional editor and helped us understand more about her role in the writing process. (See Menu for the blog)
What our writers are working on
Each person gave a quick update on what they are currently doing and shared what they want to achieve through the group. They want a meaningful return from the meeting and especially want to go away feeling encouraged.
We went on to discuss different ways of publishing and what safeguards you should think about when entering into contracts, especially with someone you have not met, perhaps online. Word of mouth can be the best method of finding someone with the experience you need and who you can trust. That is one of the advantages of coming to a group such as ours.
A question was raised about copyright and whilst, like editing, this can be a complex area, there are ways of getting help e.g. The Copyright Agency. The main legislation dealing with copyright in the UK is the “Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.”
Another useful piece of information we shared is to use the copyright symbol at the end of your work. If you Google this there are instructions and videos online to help, depending on which computer system you use.
This is the part of the evening which can be daunting at first but I now positively look forward to. This is when we share a piece of work that may be from the suggested homework topic but equally can be anything you have been working on, that you wish to share. There were some “firsts” tonight and some “old hands” but hopefully everyone went home with some supportive advice and loads of encouragement!
To finish off the evening Mac shared his recent experience at Moniack Mhor, a creative writing centre in the Highlands.
Good to see old friends and this time a new face! Always welcome to add new experiences and interests.
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.
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.
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.
It must be:
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.
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!
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.
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
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?
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.