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Critiquing and Chocolate Cake Eating – 15 November 2017

On Wednesday night, Ayr Writers had the opportunity to receive feedback on pieces of writing that they’re working on. These varied, from fiction to articles, scripts to poems, and we were split into groups of four to read and critique anonymous pieces of work. Lively discussion ensued and after the tea break, it was time to feed back.

Each group had three or four pieces each, so one at a time we spoke about what we appreciated about the piece, what we felt could be improved and any additional comments. The writer of the piece then owned up, if they wanted to, although there is never any pressure to do so. We had a Christmas table panto in the form of Sleeping Beauty, poetry about meeting seals on a canoe trip, a chapter of a crime novel set in the 1960s, a French and Saunders-style series of sketches, an historical novel, a psychological thriller, vampires and faeries dating in a short story, an article about air traffic controllers, a woman’s short story about enchanted eBay items, a stream of consciousness, a flash fiction about a foot model and the start of a fantasy novel. Varied, indeed.

There was much to be praised in the writing, including good imagery, humour, description and analogies. Most pieces flowed well and created a powerful sense of mood.

Many of the suggested improvements are things we are all guilty of. Watch whose point of view you’re using. Remember to include page numbers, avoid clichés and always proofread.

But the main star of the night was Nicola’s chocolate orange brownies. I’m sure we can all agree that Nicola is a welcome new addition to the club this year and we are more than happy to give her feedback on her baking as well as her writing.

With the first SAW deadline only days away and the club’s non-fiction article due next week, I’m sure many members will be frantically making improvements to their entries based on the feedback received. Good luck to everyone.

Kirst Hammond

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