Writers’ Mill Minutes 201802

Snow didn’t quite cancel February’s meeting, but it did cause many people to stay away. Sadly our speaker was unable to stay for the meeting too, as weather and roads deteriorated and she faced a long drive home. So Sheila learned how to use a laptop attached to the audiovisual system, and those people who did make it to the meeting had the opportunity to see each other’s websites, blogs and internet pages. Our website includes a (rather outdated) list of links at: http://portlandwritersmill.org/links/member-links/ (just click on Links above). Meanwhile, here are the ones we visited or talked about during the meeting.

If you have pages to add to this list, please just reply to this email and I will add them to/update the list on the website. Thank you.

With the weather worsening fast, we moved quickly to the critique of Matthew’s chapter, looking at such issues as:

  • How important is it to satisfy reader expectation in a new chapter of a novel?
  • How do you decide how many new topics to introduce within a single chapter, especially if they’ll all be important later?
  • How do you decide how much information is too much? Which things can you leave the interested reader to feel good about knowing without being told?
  • How do you make a character visible during dialog when the character refuses to take part?
  • How do you present foreign language in dialog? Do you need to translate words, or can you use people’s reactions to clarify their meaning? What if the point-of-view character doesn’t understand the language?
  • How do you present a foreign accent in dialog? If it might be expected, but isn’t going to be there, how do you avoid the reader looking for a foreign accent?
  • How do you make history convincing? How much background should you give behind historical facts?
  • How do you make themes relevant? How important is it to connect the themes, rather than leaving readers to intuit a connection?
  • How do you make a precocious child believable? How do you decide which topics will interest the character?

And finally, how do you work reader critique into upcoming chapters when you’ve already got the story worked out in your head?

Snow was now falling in heavy flakes past the window. We watched the clock and moved on to contest awards. Carolyn handed out prizes to

  1. First place: Karin – the heart won
  2. Second place: Richard – first love
  3. Third place: Matthew – June’s troubles

Other entrants were:

  • Ashley — After the Volley
  • Sheila — Flight of the canary
  • Sheila — heed
  • Jessie — How Things Change
  • Robin — My Heart Followed His
  • Judy — Stepping in Dog Doo-Doo

Upcoming contests are:

  • Deadline March 4th – Lost – Carolyn 1200 words or less
  • Deadline April 1st – Takes place before midnight Dec 31 1899 – Matthew 1200 words or less
  • Deadline May 6th – Plunged into Darkness – Judy 1200 words or less

Carolyn and Richard provided most excellent treats, and we shortened the meeting so members could drift out to snowdrifted cars on the parking lot and drive home. We sincerely hope everyone made it safely to their destinations.

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