2017 PROGRAMME 

The core of our meetings will be our members reading their work and, where requested, getting feedback from other members. Some meetings will be designated as “manuscript evenings”, where members are free to bring along whatever they wish to read to the group. In addition, some meetings will have a theme to provide inspiration and motivation if no other writing is taking place, but members are free to bring along whatever they wish. There will also be suggested “talking points” and other activities in case there’s time remaining at the end of each meeting after core activities and natural discussions do not emerge.

Note: prose should be limited to about 1,000 words, poems about 40 lines maximum. It there is a small group at a meeting there may be an opportunity to read more from your work and/or more than one piece of work.

A typical agenda will be:

  • ·         Information: Any information to be conveyed to the group, e.g. competitions, events, promotional activities
  • ·         Members News: News from members, e.g. competition/publishing successes
  • ·         Core Activity: Members read their work based on their own current projects or the set theme
  • ·         Talking Points/Activities: Discussion of suggested topics or any other topic of interest/activities related to creative writing
  • ·         AOB

The Programme:

 

 

Date

Assignment

January 12th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – What are your writing goals and ambitions for the year?

January 26th

Theme: On this day in 1969: Prague riots over student martyr

“Police wielding truncheons and firing tear gas from pressure canisters have broken up a march by hundreds of demonstrators in central Prague. The violence erupted as officers tried to disperse the crowd gathered at the foot of the Wenceslas Statue, to pay tribute to Jan Palach, the student who burned himself to death in protest at the Soviet occupation of
Czechoslovakia. Signs which  said "Red Army Square" have been painted over with the words "Jan Palach Square".”

Write a piece about a “conflict”. It could be as dramatic as the Czech one above or something more prosaic.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – Does a “good” story always have to include conflict, as defined in a typically story arc?

 

February 9th

 Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.


-OR-

Given the proximity to St. Valentine’s Day write a piece in the Romance genre - boy/girl meets boy/girl or in the Anti-Romance genre - write about the dark side of romance - divorce, affairs, jealousy, perversion, or even the murder of a spouse.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – should we put together an anthology
perhaps with a view to publishing online?

February 23rd

Theme: On this day in 1963: Shocking wardens could be legal

 “A man who electrified his car to ward off traffic wardens may be able to evade the law. Peter Hicks, 40, a farmer from Sussex, is waiting to find out whether he will be prosecuted for rigging up an electric device on his Land Rover.

Yesterday a police officer heard a strange ticking noise emanating from the vehicle
parked in Marylebone and received a nasty shock when he touched it. A sergeant
also jumped when he came to see what shocked the constable and sparks flew when
an inspector turned up to give his opinion on the situation.

“Until somebody tells me what law I’m breaking I shall keep up my private war”, said
Hicks.”

Write a piece about your (or someone else’s) “Private War”.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Do themed evenings inspire writing?

March 9th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity:  Discussion - Why is poetry a turn-off to lots of
people?

March 23rd

Theme: On this day in 1999 Thomas Harris delivers Hannibal manuscript

“Bestselling author Thomas Harris delivers his 600-page manuscript for his new novel, Hannibal, to Delacorte Press. He had promised the book more than 10 years earlier as part of a two-book contract that paid him a $5.2 million advance. The book was the third novel featuring serial killer and cannibal Hannibal Lecter, who first appeared in Harris’ 1981 book Red Dragon as a minor character. He played a larger role in The Silence of the Lambs (1988), which sold some 10 million copies and was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1991. All three books had ‘intensely gruesome plots’.”

Write a gruesome piece.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – Is a “gruesomeness” best conveyed overtly or subtly? Do you have any examples?

April 13th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – plot before characters or vice versa?

April 27th

Theme: On this day in 1992: Betty Boothroyd is new Speaker

“The House of Commons has elected a woman to the post of Speaker for the first time in its 700-year history. Betty Boothroyd, the 62-year-old Labour MP for West Bromwich West, won her historic victory by a decisive 134-vote majority. It is the first time since World War II that a member of the opposition party has held the job.”

Write a piece about a woman/women “winning” against all the odds.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – Is writing one area where the sexes are equal?

May 11th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – why is “Crime” so popular (in writing of course)?

May 25th

Theme: On this day in 1961: Kennedy pledges man on Moon

“President John F Kennedy has called for millions of dollars to fund a space programme to get the first man on the Moon by 1970. In a speech to a joint session of Congress broadcast on TV and radio around the United States, he asked for an extra $1,700m (£600m) on the federal budget. The largest proportion of this would be spent on researching and developing ways of getting an American on the Moon by the end of the decade.

Write a piece about a “quest” or a “race”.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – How do we build tension in writing?

June 8th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – Descriptive writing (fairly lengthy descriptions of people, places, etc.) seems to be out of fashion in modern storytelling. Should it make
a comeback?

June 22nd

Theme: On this day in 1941: Hitler invades the Soviet Union

German forces have invaded the Soviet Union. In a pre-dawn offensive, German troops pushed into the USSR from the south and west, with a third force making their way from the north towards Leningrad.

At 0500 GMT, an hour after the invasion began, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda, Joseph
Goebbels, went on national radio to read a proclamation by Adolf Hitler promising that the mobilisation of the German army would be the "greatest
the world has ever seen".

Write a piece on “over ambition” or “my (or someone else’s) biggest mistake”.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion – How much editing do you do to avoid writing mistakes?

July 13th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Short stories, novels, poetry, etc - which is the hardest to write?

July 27th

Theme: Write a short play

Write a short play based on one of Arthur Miller’s titles:

“All My Sons”,

“Death of A Salesman”,

“The Crucible”,

“A Memory of Two Mondays” or

“A View from The Bridge”

Limit your play to 4 characters maximum.


Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - How do we write realistic dialogue?

August 10th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Why do we write? Fame, fortune, or just to scratch the
itch?

August 24th

Theme: Write a Story which includes set words

Write a story which includes the following words and a phrase  in the given order:

“monkey”, “gyroscope”, “Chartreuse” and the phrase “much to the vicar’s surprise”.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - How do we generate story ideas?

September 14th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Are comics and graphic novels "proper" writing?
Are they only for children, or can illustrations help sell the words?

September 28th

Theme: A lift gets stuck between floors!

Write the dialogue between the lift’s occupants

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Marketing techniques - are book signings, etc.  worth the effort?

October 12th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a novel, whatever.from?

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Getting feedback on our writing (friends/family not so good for this)

October 26th

Theme: Use a phrase in your story

Use one of the following phrases to either start or end your story or poem:

“Gorshin looked at the empty cage in despair”

“Five, four, three, two, one, zero”

“It was the first time he’d had a gun pointed at him”

“How the hell am I supposed to get through there?” or

“Work in the office came to an abrupt halt when Sally entered totally naked”.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - How many drafts do we write before it's done?

November 9th

Manuscript Evening – Bring along something you are working on or have previously written – it could be a poem, a short story, a play, a travel piece, part of a  novel, whatever.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Literature and pulp fiction - merits of both?

November 23rd

Theme: Write a piece based on one of the following photos

Photos To Follow.

Talking Point/Activity: Discussion - Who has considered self-publishing? Has anyone done it?

December 14th

Christmas Social Event

 

Please note some amendments may be necessary to cater for guest speaker evenings and mini-workshops.

Additional Activities

The following lists potential other activities for the group:

This year we are thinking about having a trip to a writing event. For example, it could be the Hay Book Festival or the Cheltenham Literary Festival. More details throughout the year.

We may also organise a writing workshop or a joint meeting with other writing groups. Again, more details in the year ahead.

 





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