Sunshine on Symington – First Summer Read-around – 8th June 2016

Two days before the start of some big fitba tournament in Paris, we had our first ‘away’ of the summer season at Nigel’s in Symington.


Maggie booted the ball into play first, treating us to a work in progress – three minutes approx. of a five minute sketch. All hush hush and top secret I’m afraid as Maggie intends entering her piece to Swanwick Summer School’s Page to Stage competition. Suffice to say there was snappy, funny dialogue delivered ably by our motley crew of a cast, strong characters and stage directions/character descriptions which indicated plenty of visual humour. Jan followed with a descriptive and quirky character sketch which was morphing into a fine short story. Again our lips are sealed as Jan is hoping to develop and expand her piece to meet the word count for the SAW Solstice Short Story. Good luck to both.

Next Martin came centre-forward reading the first draft of the eighth chapter of his crime novel and had us glued to our seats and not the radiator (chapter four?). There’s a murdering maniac in Mauchline – with a keen knowledge of the natural world – I liked this wee nugget from the killer’s twisted personality. Pace and genre then changed as Nigel shared his blog piece, for a website he contributes to – www.walkhighlands.co.uk  (under the pseudonym old danensian), on his most recent Munro adventure. With vivid descriptions of both the stunning landscape and his climbing experience, we felt the wind in our faces and the heather below our walking boots.

Lastly before the half-time whistle, Suzy had us spellbound with her mysterious and creepy short story – which she is considering either plumping up for the SAW Solstice Short Story or with careful editing reducing for the 500 word Flash Fiction. Consensus of opinion was – don’t slash! And good luck.

Tea, coffee and tasty goodies refreshed and sustained us for the second half. Many thanks to Nigel, Jan and Chris for their generosity.

Second half opened with Chloe’s radio drama script. Exciting and well written – a supernatural tale with lots of howling and a naïve young lad walking with a stranger through dark woods. Yikes. Acted out by AWC Players it had strong characters, a good plot and excellent sound effect directions. Next came Chris and an unfinished short story – a bloke called Lardy (great name), a burger guzzling greyhound and a Tangoed car. Looking forward to finding out where this imaginative tale is going.

9.30pm – final whistle – and I had to leave the pitch before extra time began.

And so I was reliant on Nigel filling me in on Tim’s work a short story set in 1930s Ireland when a golfer dies on a fairway on the northern side of the border and his companions immediately make the arrangements for his despatch across the border in the south. A hurried departure from the course with the body in the back seat of a car, a national shortage of coffins, someone always able to say “I know a man …” whether in the church, the undertaking business or The Irish Times, and a persistently nosy landlord all culminate in a surprisingly well-attended funeral. Sounds like Tim’s kissed the Blarney Stone with this entertaining tale. Sorry I missed it.


Advice handed out during the evening included : develop characters, make sure dialogue is sufficient and interesting, consider from whose perspective your story is being told, use words the reader will understand/or give a definition, build suspense by using some of the five senses, give your character conflict to resolve…..and the auld firm favourite ‘show don’t tell’ .

Highlights for me were Martin’s dramatic turn as a reserved elderly lady ( use your imagination here folks), Tim’s as a Glaswegian hard man (ditto) , Chloe’s werewolves and the cracking tiramisu , chocolate cake and jammy scones which this Slimming World girl could just drool at.

Thanks again Nigel for hosting a great evening and to all who shared their work.

Note to self (and reminder to others) – Readaround nights can over-run past 9.30pm – so organise my transport accordingly. And write something for the next one.

Linda Brown

One comment

  1. Carolyn O'Hara

    Great resume, Linda. Wish I’d been able to be there!

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