Wednesday, 24 June 2009

First meeting: ES Creative Writing Workshop

Today was the first meeting of the East Surrey Creative Writing Workshop.

Attending: Alex and Tannice. Absent: Vicky and Susi.

We met in the Bull's Head pub, in Reigate High Street, at 7.30 PM.

Alex and I went through introductions and we discussed books and genres that we enjoyed. Alex noted that she was most interested in discussing and practicing fiction.

I also enjoy writing fiction but would also like to do some non-fiction writing, such as essays, articles and features. I may even bring copywriting to the group to get feedback. More details on non-practice discussion is below.

Alex hadn't had time to do the nature practice exercise but did read mine (which you can read here) and we discussed the potential of developing it into a longer short story instead of a flash.

We discussed the structure of the workshop and decided on the following:

Practice exercises, submissions and criticisms

Exercises will be sent out on the Wednesday we meet. Members then have one week to submit their writing to the list (until the following Wednesday). Members will then have one week to write crit notes, which will be presented at the next meeting.

Email-only members can submit their criticisms via email to all members.

I would encourage members to ensure that their criticisms are a good balance of positive and constructive. Crits may include notes about style, grammar, what you'd like to read more about, what you liked and what you think could be improved.


We will start by presenting crits of the submissions.

The next section of the meeting will be for members to present a piece of writing as a discussion point.

The writing may be from a book, article, short story or any other piece of writing that you like. Members should start with a small introduction on why they've brought the piece to the meeting and a brief synopsis of the story if it's an extract from a book or a longer piece of writing.

We want to know:
- what you like, and why
- what you think works, and why
- what you think should be changes or could be improved upon
- anything else you want to say about it.

The third and final stage of the meeting is for the discussion of anything non-practice we've written, discussions of style and any grammar queries you have.

You will receive the details of the exercise via email.

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Sunday, 21 June 2009

East Surrey Creative Writing Workshop (ESCWW)

ATTN: budding writers of East Surrey!

Do you have dreams of writing a novel, poetry, a collection of short stories or articles?

Do you yearn to write but sometimes lack inspiration?

Have a great idea that needs work, but you're stuck?

Are you plagued by writer's block?

East Surrey Creative Writing Workshop can help!

Currently there are only 4 female members and we'd love to grow our group to be as diverse as possible.

We've not met up yet as this is an entirely new group. However, the proposed plan is thus:

We will meet bi-weekly. At the moment, no time and place has been set, but a suggestion in discussion is Wednesday nights at 8PM, at the Bull's Head in Reigate. This is subject to change, so please feel free to contact me (contact info below).

Practice exercises will be sent out every two weeks. Members will then prepare their piece and email it to the other members. Obviously, the more quickly a member writes and submits their practice piece, the more criticism and feedback they'll receive.

We will then meet up and discuss the various submissions from members. All criticism must be constructive. As the chairwoman of the meeting, I will endeavour to keep a lid on any heated discussions, should they occur.

Once we've gone through development points, suggestions and anything else about the submissions, we will move on to chat about different elements of writing.

This includes, but is not limited to;

  • Books we've read and liked/hated
  • Grammar and style queries and discussions
  • Brainstorming plot elements, character development, or anything else regarding members' non-practice work
  • Discussion of submissions to publishers, where required
  • Discussion of possibly publishing our practice pieces as an anthology (this is by no means a requirement of membership - purely an idea at this stage).
To contact me about the group, please call me on 07981969693, email me via my website, Cam Poetic License, or @ reply to me on Twitter, @CPoeticLicense

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Flash Fiction: Blitzkreig: Lightning War

It was a perfect night for it. The rain was hammering down on the windows, reminding Dylan of an air strike. The roar was deafening as the rain drops tuned to sleet and the sound intensified. Dylan could almost imagine that it was he who controlled the rain, concentrating on making it slam down even harder on the parched ground.

It had to be a dark and wet night. The bridge should be empty so Dylan could be alone. Only four more hours until midnight.

Dylan heard a rumble and then, seconds later, saw the piercing light of a lightning strike. It was just the right night for the choice he'd made.


Last Wednesday had been the hottest day of the year so far and he'd taken his niece out. They'd played among the long, summer grasses that the council had neglected to trim.

Dylan had held her pretty feet and lifted her up into the low branches of an Oak tree. She'd sat above him, amused by the antics of the curious squirrels scurrying up the higher branches. She'd asked him why there were no conkers and Dylan had laughed, telling her it was the wrong time of year. It was then that Dylan had felt some sadness and doubt. But after further, logical consideration, he was certain that it was right. After all, Sarah would benefit most. Dylan was sure that, in ten years, when Sarah turned eighteen, she'd understand his decision. As he was unmarried and the rest of his family were estranged, she would be the main beneficiary of his will.

Dylan's thoughts were interrupted by an ominous creaking sound, ear piercing screams and a cacaphonous splintering of wood and buckling of metal. Sprinting towards the front balcony, Dylan flung the patio doors open.

The Yew tree he'd cultivated for twenty years had fallen. Weakened by his over-zealous pruning and the violent winds, it had pinned his neighbours; Janet and her daughter, Susi, in their car.


It was half past eleven; almost 4 hours since the accident. The firemen had safely extracted his neighbours from their car and they were in their house, drinking tea and contemplating their luck. Dylan sat on his balcony. He didn't notice the stinging hail, nor the bright, flashing lights of the ambulance and fire engine.

The Yew had changed everything. Dylan never went to London Bridge.
Yew tree forklore

Flash fiction submitted for this week's exercise on the Internet Writing Workshop.

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Monday, 8 June 2009

Writing hot web copy: four ways to convert traffic to sales

Web users are just a click away from leaving your site. There are billions of websites out there all competing for their attention and you need to keep your bounce rate down by ensuring your copy is succinct. Read on to find out how.

Remember your goal

Before you start writing, think about two things, and two things only:

  • The goal of your copy

  • Who you're selling to.

Anything in your copy that doesn't work towards your goal or target audience should be cut.

Extraneous adverbs

Remove adverbs (really, very, extremely, quickly) that add nothing to your marketing message. Replace them with a stronger verb to convey how your products or services will be of value to your customer.

Instead of: My new book will really help you to quickly get more customers. (12 words)

Use: My new book accelerates customer attraction. (6 words)

That don't impress me much (with apologies to Shania Twain)

Don't pack your copy with technical terminology, buzz words or high-scoring Scrabble® words that impress nobody. Although useful to reduce repetition, a thesaurus can be your worst enemy if you misuse a word. Write for your audience: after all, if your customer doesn't understand what your message is, you've lost them.

Instead of: Sesquipedalian copy won't get results.

Use: Overusing long words won't get results.


'Cut' (or CTRL+X for keyboard shortcut fans) is your essential tool for efficient marketing. 24 hours after writing, go back and cut around 20-30% of what you've written. Remove anything that doesn't guide customers from introducing the product/service, how it will benefit them and then through to how they can get it. If your point's unclear, be ruthless.

Tannice Pendegrass has six years of copywriting, proofreading and editing experience, having worked for an international bank and a leading UK games studio. Tannice also provides proofreading and editing services for businesses and students. You can find her at Cam Poetic License and on BT Tradespace.

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