On 29 February, we all gathered with bated breath to hear the results of our first competition of the year, a 2000-word short story, incorporating the ‘given phrase’, “and then the whispering started”. The judge was acclaimed local writer Alexandra Benedict (or A K Benedict), whose latest thriller, ‘Jonathan Dark or the Evidence of Ghosts’, has recently been published by Orion and is receiving excellent reviews. Alexandra gave us all encouraging and constructive feedback, praising our work for its array of convincing characters, fluid narrative, clear structure and deft use of language. She also gave useful suggestions on how to improve our stories, e.g. by making sure that titles grab a reader’s attention, that details are selected carefully, that well-worn phrases are avoided and that endings are strong. Alexandra then announced the four winners: in first place was Maddie Blake’s ‘The Song of the Tree’, praised for its authentic dialogue and atmosphere of mystery and yearning. ‘The Song’s Sake’, by Elizabeth Allen noted for its beautiful and assonance-rich language, was second. Sarah Corrie’s brave and honest ‘Shut Up You Bitch Or the Neighbours Will Hear You’ was third, and ‘This Won’t Last’ by Jill Fricker, with its original point of view, was fourth.
26 members attended our meeting on 15th March and were delighted to welcome award-winning poet and Creative Writing tutor, John McCullough, who gave a stimulating and inspiring workshop on how to write good modern poetry. First, we looked at how key elements, such as rhythm, sound and repetition are used to imply emotion subtly, rather than state it overtly. Then, in groups, we analysed and discussed two contrasting but excellent modern poems, trying to tease out what made them memorable and fresh. We were given a topic and did some freewriting to ‘unleash the strange thoughts at the back of our brains’ before trying to expand key lines into short poems. Some of us were brave enough to read out our attempts and all received encouraging constructive feedback from John. Finally, he outlined his own creative process before reading out three of his own best known poems. It was a fascinating and thought-provoking evening, and we all feel more confident about having a go ourselves now.
For more information about Hastings Writers’ Group, visit our website: http://hastingswriters.co.uk/ or email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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