Writers’ Mill Minutes 201704

Writers’ Mill Minutes April 23rd 2017

Guest speaker Zita Podany was unable to attend due to illness, but has been rescheduled for August 20th – mark your calendars. With the off-schedule timing for the meeting (due to Easter) causing a lower attendance this month, let’s hope for more people to be here when Zita joins us in August. Meanwhile around twelve of us enjoyed a BYOS meeting (Bring your own snacks, and bring your own speaker), with an impromptu writing exercise taken from the Creative Writer’s Notebook ($8.98 from Barnes and Noble) inspired by our next contest. We also enjoyed receiving contest awards filled with wonder for the Wonder contest, pondering contest entries for the next few months, and critiquing the third enticing chapter of Matthew’s novel.

One sentence answers to the question, “What are you writing?” as we passed around the clipboard included:

  • blogposts (find Jean’s articles on the question of whether home-made stories have or should have the same cachet as home-made art and jewelry at goodreads.com/jeanatwritersmill)
  • novels of faith and encouragement
  • young adult vampire fiction
  • contest entries
  • poetry
  • memoir (Minnie described how setting her sights on three pages a week rather than a chapter is resulting in remarkable progress)
  • poetry (MaryJane is editing her book)
  • and maybe editing (Sheila loves getting paid occasionally! https://sheiladeeth.wordpress.com/editing/)

Contest awards (from Karen, enjoying a trip to Italy) were handed out by Sheila to:

  1. First place: Karin Krafft for the story “Water”
  2. Second Place: Jessie Collins for the story “Wonder”—-(which tied with Karin for her poem “I Wonder” but since Karin took first place, Jessie has this one)
  3. Third Place: Sheila Deeth for the poem “Left Behind”

OTHER ENTRIES were: “Earth Wonder” POEM by Jean Harkin, “Eucalyptus Magic” POEM by Robin Layne, “I Wonder” POEM – as noted above – by Karin Krafft, “In Awe of Nature’s Splendor” POEM by Judy Beaston, ‘Serendipity” STORY by Judy Beaston, “The Portal” STORY by Ashish Bauron, “Where Have All the Adverbs Gone?” POEM by Sheila Deeth

Upcoming contests with deadlines ranging from two weeks out (from the meeting – one week now) to two months out are:

  • Deadline May 7th, wordcount 950 words or less: Karen’s topic, Unspoken Bonds that unite, divide or are differently seen by different characters.
  • Deadline June 4th, wordcount 1250 or less: Sheila’s topic, Water water everywhere, Sheila – let your mind float free!
  • Deadline July 2nd, wordcount 1200 or less: Jean’s topic, for Art’s Sake

The Writing Exercise invited us to write a scene from different viewpoints. The scene was set: A man sitting at a table in an Italian restaurant; a woman gets up from another table and approaches him… Very appropriate for our upcoming “unspoken bonds” contest (so you’ve no excuse not to enter if you were there on Sunday!). The three viewpoints, in order, were:

  1. First person – e.g. I can see her looking at me…
  2. Third person – e.g. She picked up her glass of wine… and
  3. Dialog between the characters.

Several of us ending up writing each scene as a continuation of the last – we were intrigued to find the result rather resembled those stories where one person writes the first paragraph and another writes the second, etc. Perhaps changing viewpoints changed our whole approach. We were also surprised to see how many of us introduced guns into the story!

Afterward, Robin led an excellent, encouraging and wide-ranging critique of Matthew’s third chapter. Members wanting to read the earlier (highly recommended) chapters to catch up should contact Sheila or Matthew. Topics covered included:

  • How important is story arc within a chapter?
  • How important is foreshadowing within a chapter?
  • How to choose when to end a chapter:
    • Cliffhangers that make the reader keep going
    • Intrigue that makes the reader content to stop and think, but determined to return
  • How to layer a character so that someone who seems evil can do good deeds
  • How to use all the senses, making scenes come to life
  • The difference between voice and point of view
    • Point of view restricts the reader’s view to the character’s view.
    • Narrative voice expands what the reader sees, thinks and knows by letting us look through the narrator’s eyes.
  • Dialog tags vs descriptive beats
    • Tags like “he said,” “she exclaimed,” “they gasped” etc
    • Beats like “’Oh no!’ Her hands trembled. ‘You can’t really mean…’”

The meeting ended with a few quick questions:

  • Do we want a sale table as well as the free table and snack tables at meetings?
    • YES
    • You can put books that you have written or been published in on our sale table provided
      • You take responsibility for both books and payment, and
      • You donate or have donated one copy of each book to the library.
    • Are there ways to encourage more people to enter contests (and will Judy need help if more people enter? She does a fantastic job!)?
      • Varying word counts are good.
        • Shorter wordcounts encourage more people to read, but
        • Longer ones encourage those who don’t like writing short.
      • Different genres might be good but we like having them mixed – stories and poems accepted to same contest.

Our next meeting is on May 21st, when Jim Elstad will speak on publishing options and choices. Jim has successfully sold lots of his novels. His last talk included some excellent advice on how to prepare for a sales event – advice that Sheila has enjoyed following ever since. So be ready to learn some exciting and valuable stuff. See you there.

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