Monthly Archives: July 2015

July Critique Circle

Good news!  Our newest member has made her first ever submission to a story competition!  The story is great, by the way, and one day you could be reading it in our anthology (date yet to be confirmed – novels and other work have delayed initial timeline expectations, but we will get there).


The day was long, the topics varied, the crowd active.  David gave us an interesting discussion on the indigenous people of the area we live in – we wanted this so we can contribute to the Trail of Tales project for the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2016 (the focus is on a specific site in Tea Tree Gully).  The information will lead to further contact with the indigenous languages board and elders when work is closer to completion for permissions (where required).

The first piece of work discussed was a poem drafted for the Fringe.  As none of the four people present are practicing poets, the talk tried to balance symmetry, style, and structure.  And the title did not fit the story of the poem.  Some of the lines did not work in terms of action and description and the consistency of movement.  A real poet will be roped in (without her knowledge yet) to assist this newbie poet.

The second piece of work discussed how plot and tension and conflict, how big they need to be, how to ensure motivation matches the intensity of conflict to ensure tension in the plot is achieved.  This may sound like a simple thing – it’s not.  We barely scraped through, didn’t get past the first page (or so), and further work and discussion is required – and possibly finding  the means to deepen conflict through motivation of the POV characters.  Character (motivation) drives plot, character and plot drive tension, tension and character drive plot.  Plot is the struggle between character and conflict; conflict is the obstacles between the character and the goal/ resolution.

A wrap-up:

Story is a character struggling to resolve a conflict.

Plot + character + conflict + structure – the movement toward resolution.


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July Toolbox – Power to the Word!

When you remember something you read from years ago; when someone says just two words of the text you go into automatic recall and quote the rest of the words – how powerful are those words?

How do we learn to give our own words that power?  What tools do we use?  How can we see if the effect is what we want it to be?

We learn how to see the patterns, the rhythm, the structure of the words in the sentence, the sentence in the paragraph, the paragraph in the scene, the scene in the sequence, the sequence in the arc, the arc/s in the structure.

And just what does that mean?

When we consider how we are going to make our writing persuasive, we must consider the word rhetoric because that is what rhetoric means: put the words together in such a way that they become highly persuasive.

Parallelism (structure), epistrophe  (end), consonance (consonants), anaphora (beginnings), alliteration (sound), assonance (vowel), anadiplosis (several words at end): these terms define ways of using repetition in various places in writing to create a powerful effect.

We know about things like similes, metaphors, euphemism, hyperbole, irony, onomatopoeia (kapow), understatement, paradox, analogy, catalogue, contrast, synonym, oxymoron, pun, personification.  We do know about them, don’t we?  Should we?  Do we need to understand what these things are, how they work, where to put them and when, why they work in some places and not others?

Yes, we do.  We need to understand why we feel a certain point in a piece of writing needs to be the power moment, needs to be beefed up, and how to give it just what it needs to express the full impact of what we (the author) expect of it.  Think also of rhythm, pattern, pace (words that make background music to the reader).

We also need to understand where the power point should be.  If you put it in the middle of something, it can get lost by the words before and after; if you put it at the end, you leave the reader with the ‘ah ha’ of the moment; if you put it at the beginning – no, you tell me what it does!  I’m going writing!

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Toolbox meeting First Friday July

Back to normal toolbox meetings – this month the theme is POWER; how do we give our words, sentences, stories the power they need?

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