A Variety Pack at Nigel’s Readaround – 8 August 2018

What better way to start a readaround than to listen to a piece directly inspired by the writer’s experience of the previous readaround?

Marion’s City Girl versus Country Girl was a fun fusion of memoir, nostalgia, life writing and creative non-fiction. Packed with imagery and humour, she compared her youthful enthusiasm for the bright lights of Glasgow to the rural bliss the woman with jacket and hood finds in the Carrick Hills. We all agreed Marion should submit this piece to be published in the club’s Write Stuff column of the Ayr Advertiser.

Peter followed with part of his script/prose updating the lives and loves of Jack Dawkins, The Artful Dodger and his old pal Oliver Twist. Set approximately twenty years after Dicken’s classic novel closes, Peter has used his knowledge and love of the Victorian era to give realism and colour to his work. The importance of ensuring accurate chronology when writing historical novels was discussed as we debated whether a certain phrase would be in common use during the 1870s.

Taking a break from crime (not literally, thankfully) and memoir, Martin is working on a children’s book which he plans to illustrate himself. Written in Scots rhyme, this amusing tale has an ending which teaches children the important lesson of keeping safe. Martin’s dinosaur, Tam, was a character we could see youngsters relating to. The group made some suggestions to help Martin improve his story: make sure the language and plot are appropriate for the target age group. We look forward to hearing about Tam’s exploits again.

Lucky Nicola entered publishing house Canelo’s pitch competition on Twitter. Her tweet, giving a brief flavour of her Sci-fi novel, caught the eye of an editor and she was invited to send in her first three chapters and synopsis. Congratulations!
She read us her first chapter and we were impressed with the piece’s pace and escalating tension. A strong female protagonist sets out to travel into the future in her very original and nicely described time machine – what could go wrong? We hope to find out when the book is published. Good luck, Nicola.

Next up was Anne and the continuation of her crime novel which explores how Rosalind’s murder impacts on the lives of her friends and her community. Anne has written chapters from the perspective of various characters to move her plot along. The piece she shared was written from the cleaner, Judith’s, point of view. We appreciated the good use of imagery and agreed that a clear picture of the character had been formed. We spoke about how to structure a novel and Nicola helpfully recommended the John Yorke Five Act Structure as a good guide.

How to master five-act structure: one-to-one session

By this time we were all gasping for a cuppa and fading away for want of a blueberry muffin. So we decamped to Nigel’s kitchen for tea, coffee, a fabulous spread – many thanks to the baker – and a good old blether. Then, recharged by jammy scones and Viennese whirls we returned to our positions for round two.

Nigel, inspired by a scene he witnessed while driving locally, created an atmospheric snapshot in prose. A denim clad boy hovering in the rain outside a courthouse watches a well-dressed woman with umbrella and skyscraper heels biding time her, checking her phone – what is their connection? We agreed this piece was beautifully written, oozing intrigue and has potential for development. Psychological thriller perhaps?

Poems are like buses, so it seems. You wait all night for one to come along … and then you get three altogether. The trio penned by Carolyn were on varying subjects – one still being a work in progress. We loved the flow of her poetry, her striking use of alliteration and her choice of words which conveyed impact, mood, frustration, chaos, aging and love.

Abigail, a new face to the Readarounds, brought the first chapter of her young adult novel. The opening scene firmly established a fantasy world with medieval undertones and introduced us to a mysterious Half-Elf, his cowled companion and an estranged female friend. With vivid descriptions and an engaging storyline, Abigail’s piece hooked us and we encouraged her to come along to feedback nights with more.

Kirsty brought the evening to a close, entertaining us with a flash fiction with a clever twist. Snappily written with plenty of dialogue, we heard a phone call made by an exasperated time traveller from Earth’s future trying to warn of a weather disaster to the BBC’s Weather Centre. This funny story swept gales of laughter all across Nigel’s living room.

What a wonderful variety of work our nine writers shared. Thank you.

Gail, Matthew and I also attended but, with nothing to read out, had the privilege of relaxing and listening – before chipping in with advice and suggestions.

Thanks again to our host Nigel for opening the doors of his home to us. With a respectable finishing time of 10.00pm, I’m pleased to report –
no bacon rolls were required as a result of this Readaround.

Linda Brown

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