Minute of 23/02/23

Nethergate Writers’ Meeting

Thursday 24 February 2023

at St Andrews Brewing Co and by Zoom

Chaired by Daniel, minutes by Zusana

Present: Colm, Daniel, George, Mike, Rhoda, Richard (via Zoom), Roddie, Zusana

Apologies: David C, David F, Sandra, Sue

Previous Minutes: accepted


Emeritus by Zusana (extract from a novella)

Zusana thanked the company for the excellent feedback she’d already received by email. The piece was generally much enjoyed by the company, with the Machiavellian, lad-o-pairts protagonist and the written style being praised, though several doubts were raised too: the use of terms that are historically permissible but perhaps give the wrong feel; inappropriate use of particular tenses; the need for more clarification/specifics/background in parts of the text.

She Stalks by Mike (short story)

Because of the number of pieces to be read this evening, Mike read the first 1000 words only of this imaginative eco-dystopian short story in which Gaia and her malevolent offspring in the form of natural disasters wreak havoc on humanity, especially those humans responsible for the worst environmental damage. Mike had, however, received several sets of comments by email. The author had reservations about the story, which weren’t shared by the company, who enjoyed the piece very much. There was lively discussion about the importance of scientific accuracy v the rights of the author to create their own universe, the use of background details, the value of allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions and the nature of the mythic.

The Quiet Place by Rhoda (flash fiction)

This very short but powerful flash fiction about an adolescent girl who deals with an abusive uncle at a family gathering was again greatly enjoyed and stimulated much discussion. Regarded as an exemplary piece of flash fiction, it was praised for the excellent build-up of tension and impactful ending and the concise and effective use of detail to create ambience.

World 52 by Colm (revised prologue/appendix to a novel)

Again for reasons of time, Colm read the first part only of his augmented and substantially revised prologue/appendix to his novel. The company wholeheartedly praised the accomplished, lyrical written style and scriptural tone of the piece, which describes a series of fictional, finely crafted creation myths, designed to provide cosmological background to the action of the novel. There was a general feeling that the piece was too long and/or complicated to act successfully as a prologue in its present form, but that it could be used in other ways in the book. Suggestions included dividing the material into a series of epigraphs or appendices to be used alongside chapters or sections of the book, or having characters refer to and reflect the cosmology. Colm added that the cosmology hadn’t been the starting point for the novel but had developed from the story.

The Isle and the Amulet, Chapter 16 – by Roddie (part chapter from a novel)

Roddie shared the latest part-chapter of his gripping, pacy young-reader novel about evil-doers attempting to bring about Ragnarok in 1980s Cumbrae. The company agreed that the action bowled along, with opinions differing about whether it was a little too fast or just right given that the reader by this point is accustomed to great pace. There was discussion of the Uncle Jackie character – whether he would turn out to be the nefarious sort in the end and if his acceptance of the children’s story was too quick and unquestioning. There were also comments about the role of the grandparents as providing a stable, everyday contrast to the wildness and danger of many of the other characters.

Matters Arising / Other Business

There was some discussion about the best way to set a date for the AGM which is due over the next two months. Some notice is necessary so that office bearers can prepare their yearly reports. It was decided that Roddie would poll members by email to try to reach a suitable date.

Next regular NW  meeting: Wednesday 8 March, St Andrews Brewery/Zoom

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