It was a dark and stormy night … 20 September 2017

It was a dark and stormy night…

And I was almost tempted not to go to our first Readaround night but I was arranging the evening so I thought I’d better turn up.

I had done some preparation. I checked the bag of numbers – four groups of every number from one to six. I thought six groups might be a bit ambitious on such a dreich evening so I carefully corralled the sixes in a separate bag.

In order that no-one would be asked to critique their own work, each person would pick a number and I would place their writing in any pile except the one that corresponded to their number – simples.


The rain had put off more people than I had originally thought. There were only enough people there to make up four groups. Everyone who had picked number five had to be spread out between the other tables. And, of course, I didn’t know in which bundle I’d placed their writing.


I gave out the bundles to be critiqued and crossed my fingers. A couple of participants from group two sidled up to me and handed back their own pieces of writing.

I now had to steal back a couple of pieces from other groups to pass on to the one with too few pieces and make sure the new pieces didn’t belong to anyone else in group two. Ah, the complications involved in organising a readaround evening.

Finally, there was silence as each group began to read their first piece. After three or four minutes, heads would come up as they finished and checked to see if the rest of their group was still reading.

Then the chatter began-

‘I like the first line’

‘One wee thing jumped out for me’

‘Well written, well researched’

‘How could it be improved?’

Each group became noisier and noisier before settling down to read their next piece and the cycle would begin all over again.

After all the pieces had been read, discussed and commented on within each group, we had a break for tea and coffee.

Refreshed, I asked each group to report on their pieces. We had the beginnings of novels, parts of short stories, poems. travelogues, children’s stories and non-fiction pieces. This is, of course, only the opinion of the three or four people who read the pieces but, hopefully, the writers were able to go home with some points to ponder.

I collected my bag of numbers, my file of blank comment sheets and headed, once more, into that dark and stormy night ..



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