A valuable sounding board: Feedback Night – 7 November 2018

The meeting was one of our regular read-around sessions where members are asked to bring in a piece of work of approximately one thousand words and allow people to read and offer constructive criticism. There were a large number of such contributions to consider and for my part they ranged from very good to border line excellent. It’s very difficult to keep track of all the submissions and what they were about but I’ll give it my best shot.

The first one up was a letter Dear Millie about a “menage a trois” liaison at the start of WW2. The format and font were commented upon and the phrase “charming interlude with an interesting twist” noted. There was some confusion expressed about the type of piece it purported to be.

Two poems were discussed, both dealing with the Great War. One, Trench Life, was both topical and evocative of the time. Punctuation was considered unusual. The second poem, The Veteran was thought to be slightly too wordy and whilst a view that there seemed to be somewhat of a mismatch in parts the reviewers thought it an interesting contrast of jauntiness and sadness.

An excerpt of a novel’s opening chapter was thought to contain too many swear words and a part recalling a funeral contained too much information. Some editing was required. Another novel extract contained seven characters in a short piece but was considered potentially a good read.

A children’s novel Silence had what was described as an “intriguing premise” but the similarity of some of the characters could have led to confusion. The story nevertheless had potential. A novel aimed at young adults entitled Between the Lines brought out the thoughts of a teenager very well. Both layout and punctuation needed assessing. Some of the terminology was either youth-speak or colloquial. Consistence may be needed to be looked at.

My Evil Stepmother, a short story, contained some complicated grammar with definitions in brackets. There seemed to be links with other historic writers and a suggestion that to much information on the characters existed. A story entitled Trees told a story of a liaison resulting from a Finnish visit and the death of one of the main characters was considered possibly more appropriate in a longer form. It was notable.

Murder at the Marina whilst liked, contained inconsistencies and a longer form rather than a “flash fiction” might have been a better choice. The Briefing Room about a police case contained some good characters and a bit of Glasgow humour as did a novel excerpt about the reminiscences of a priest with some witty dialogue and visual impressions.

This potted, incomplete report doesn’t do justice to the efforts of those involved in the evening. Much effort goes into these pieces of literature and if it wasn’t for our members efforts, we wouldn’t have anything to discuss! For myself they represent a valuable sounding board, allowing people like myself to hone our talents and improve. I look forward to the next one. I always do.

Eddie Phillips

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