Seven members logged on to a Zoom meeting as we were unable to meet in the hall. Robbie announced the winners of the recent Dialogue Competition.
Chichester Writers’ Circle Dialogue Competition 2020, Judged by Robbie
It was quite difficult judging a competition when all the entrants were so well known to me. I did my best to be objective and hope I have succeeded.
The object of this competition was to try and convey character and setting through dialogue with minimal exposition and stage directions.
All the entries managed to do this with varying degrees of success, telling a story through the characters’ eyes.
I chose the three winners because they cleverly used only dialogue, conveying tension, setting and character with no explanations needed..
There were some interesting and varied scenarios, some quite dramatic, from bomb disposal to a friendly chat between brothers.
I enjoyed reading all of them and concluded that we have some very talented writers in our group. (But I knew that anyway).
The winners were as follows –
1st Christabel Milner. Beach Scene, a topical story about a boatload of immigrants
Using minimal stage directions and taut dialogue, Christabel built up the tension in her story very well.
2nd Nicky Lowes. Lost in Italy, a Zoom conversation between a mother and daughter
No explanation of character or location was needed, all told through dialogue. A scenario that is becoming very familiar to us all these days.
3rd Piers Rowlandson. Girl Talk, a chat between two teenage girls about riding, dancing and boys.
Very hard to replicate teenage conversation but this was well done. I could almost hear their voices.
Nicky and Piers read their entries and Robbie read Christabel's as she was unable to join us.
There was also time for John, Jan and Christine to read their contributions before time was up and the meeting ended.
Eight members attended the November meeting which was again held in the downstairs hall to allow for social distancing.
Adeline called in briefly to show the draft cover for the next newsletter.
John continued his session on Changes to the English Language. He had prepared lists based on based on previous discussions of words no longer in use and words recently introduced.
Several members came up with their own old and new words. There followed a discussion on the reasons for change which threw up some interesting points.
There was time for reading of members’ work. Sharon read Piers’s contribution ‘Invitation to a Ball’, a lively rendition bringing to life the two teenagers in Piers’s piece.
They then swapped over and Piers read Sharon’s item, ‘A Walk on the Beach.’
There were seven entries for the dialogue competition which will be judged by Robbie. (I have been a judge in the past for the Age UK writing competitions).
With the new lockdown we hope to be able to hold our December meeting. Robbie promised to keep everyone informed.
Ten members attended the meeting this evening. Again we met in ground floor hall where we were able to keep ourselves apart by the regulatory two metres. Finally we were able to hand Sharon the John Murray cup which had been awarded to her in March. The meeting was an opportunity for members to read items of work in progress. John, Sharon, Piers, Jan and Lesley all read work that had been circulated previously. Christine could not attend and her work was read by John. The meeting ended just before 9:30pm.
Our first meeting after lockdown went very well. The hall management had agreed that we should use the downstairs hall to allow for social distancing. They had provided guidelines and also sanitising and cleaning materials were in place.
Our speaker John Owen (Jo) Smith gave a very lively talk about his playwriting and how to use dialogue to convey character. This was illustrated by excerpts from his play about Flora Thompson which were read aloud by members. He then went on to talk about his first venture into self publishing which has now developed into a business. We ended with some lively discussion.
Christine announced she has had a poem published in the annual Jazz and Poetry Magazine and all the members offered warm congratulations.
Everyone agreed how nice it was to get back to face to face meetings, albeit at a safe distance.
Future meetings were also discussed and Christine kindly agreed to do a poetry session for us at the January meeting.
Only five present logged in to the meeting this month, but they had a good time reading out the challenges Robbie had set. The second line challenge, to follow a famous first line from a poem or novel with a line of our own, produced clever takes on A E Housman's Shropshire Lad, Poe's The Raven, If by Rudyard Kipling, and Jane Eyre.
Four of us had also had a go at the Lipogram, writing a short piece without using the letter 'a'.
This was followed by a short discussion on the 'new' words that have appeared since lockdown.
Our second Zoom meeting was more successful than last month's, although only six members logged on. All took part in the ALPHABRETT writing challenge, devised by writer Simon Brett. This was a 26 word story, each word beginning with a letter of the alphabet in order - a.b.c etc. We each read out our stories and Robbie read the one submitted by Christine who was unable to join us.
It was good fun and we all agreed the challenges helped to keep our writing muscles toned. More challenges to come in August.
Having missed the April and May meetings, it was decided to try holding meetings via Zoom.
This was a learning curve for our Secretary and the committee and unfortunately the meeting scheduled for June 2nd did not go according to plan due to technical difficulties.
Only three of us managed to log in to the meeting and we read our short pieces on what we are missing as a result of the government lockdown regulations, and what we will do when the crisis has passed.
The committee knew several people had planned to join the meeting and wanted to read their pieces, so our Treasurer Nicky, volunteered to set up another meeting the following week on June 9th for the ‘Second Chancers’.
Seven members managed it this time and, after reading our pieces we had a wide ranging discussion on how we are all coping and about the general situation, almost verging on politics.
It was suggested that we send our pieces to Adeline for inclusion in the next newsletter and Robbie agreed to write this short piece about our meetings for the record.
We plan to hold another Zoom meeting on July 7th.
April and May Meetings cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown regulations.
March Annual General Meeting
Eleven members attended the AGM on March 3rd with John Smith in the chair. There were 3 apologies for absence. The business of the evening was speedily dealt with, the main item being the discussion of the future programme. Four speakers have been booked and the remaining meetings will consist of workshops, discussions and readings of members’ work.
Adeline has prepared the Spring Newsletter which will be distributed at the next meeting
John said he wished to step down as Chairman but in the absence of any volunteers has agreed to continue for another year. The rest of the committee have also agreed to continue.
The John Murray Cup was awarded to Sharon Hurr in recognition of her progress in writing and her valued help with the organisation of last year’s Festival of Chichester event.
The remainder of the meeting was taken up with readings of members’ work.
Piers read a revised version of his story ‘Not Before Midnight’ which he has since submitted to a competition. Sharon’s piece was about grief. The evening ended with a piece about Spring by Elaine which was read as a dialogue with Christine.
Eleven members and one visitor attended the February meeting when Robbie gave a brief presentation on Flash Fiction – what it is and tips on writing it. She gave examples of outlets such as competitions and online magazines. She gave out a list of forthcoming competitions and hoped some members would take part. She finished by reading the first paragraphs of two flash fiction winners in the Writers’ Forum magazine.
After the refreshment break there was time for reading and we enjoyed hearing Piers’ story ‘Not After Midnight’ and Sharon’s ‘Gresham House’.
Adeline reminded members that she needed more submissions for the Spring newsletter. The meeting ended with a reminder that next month is the AGM and subs will be due.
January 2020 meeting
Seven members were welcomed back after the Christmas break and we started with a brief discussion as to our participation in this year’s Festival of Chichester and what form our presentation would take. No decision was made and Robbie agreed to canvass the absent members. It will be discussed in full at the forthcoming committee meeting.
The main business of the evening was reading and appraisal of members’ work. John read a piece called Age B, about an elderly man coping with loss and loneliness. This was followed by an excerpt from ‘Sylvia’s secret’, Robbie’s new novel. Christine read a poem about Christmas cards which all agreed was worthy of publication and we persuaded her to try sending it to one of the ‘nostalgia’ magazines. The evening ended with a contribution from new member Piers, the start of a story with sailing background.
Our next meeting is on February 4th when Robbie will be talking about Flash Fiction.