A full basket of stories:
- Update on Ms Hem and her antics (steam punk)
- Men go mad under the influence of manipulation (steam punk)
- Movement across the desert in search of water – and dragons
- What’s down there? Held over ‘til the next critique
- Companions we don’t really care for – also held over.
The first discussion was Ms Hem. The story is in fragments of plan, outline, scene/s sequences, and research requirements. A lot of discussion on what level of research is required, specifically for steam punk readers. Detail of certain things is expected, however, other things can be glossed over, particularly if they are a lead in to something that comes later, or have been mentioned before, or are not relevant to story.
Discussion on requirements of scene and POV: when to break a scene, how to prepare for scene change, segue (flow), and cause and effect. It may be good to leave a reader hanging for a moment to build the suspense, to magnify the conflict, but the opening and closing of those little moments are very important.
The second discussion is a follow-on from the previous submission in a steam punk novella (a jolly good show, chaps!). The main discussion revolved around (yes, revolved is the appropriate word) how to use a word to imply a feeling – and the use of metaphors that follow the flow of the story, and stay within the bounds of the metaphorical confines (don’ mix ya metaphoricals, laddy). The story unfolds in a manner that hints at the right things in the right places, causes the reader to check over their shoulder (just in case), and to look askance at people they thought they knew (well, story-wise).
The third discussion tried to get more of a feel of the distinction between internalisation and dialogue – how would a person speak in their own mind about their situation, and whether they would waste breath on someone who is giving them the . . . willies. How many characters need to be active in a scene to bring to scene to life? How many characters does the main char have to interact with in order to give the full impact of the scene? How much of the setting needs to be overlaid onto the main character’s (or should that be through) senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste – and emotions).
We also discussed printed book requirements – what looks good, what doesn’t; cover requirements, text elements, page colours, fonts. It’s a minefield, and that doesn’t include how to ensure the formatting the writer puts forward doesn’t get changed by the auto-formatters!
Short stories – several shorts were discussed and a plan laid out for critique of the ones at the stage of completion (awaiting final critique or final proofread). Short stories can be more difficult because the same requirements of story are held within fewer words, within a tighter structure, but must still lay out a full engagement.
And because this meeting was extraordinary (the blue moon), we’ll be back again next week, to discuss Structure (what is it, and how do we make it work best for this story?).