By Margaret McNeil, Crieff Hydro, SAW
So, a couple of weeks ago, before I had a great trip to Lincoln where they have a wonderful abbey and also The Old Bakery, I promised to add a wee resume of my Q&A at Edinburgh Writers’ Club. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Entering Lincoln Abbey for the first time is one of those heart-stopping moments. How did they do it? No computers, powered tools, digital images, but there it sits in all its beauty. It is a fine Gothic building and at one time the tallest in Europe. The Old Bakery is a wonderful restaurant and a great example of re-using what’s there. The building was a bakery and shop when its owner died leaving it to his daughter. She shut the ground floor and moved upstairs where she lived for forty years. Enter chef, Ivano de Serio, and his wife, Tracy. They’ve carefully carved out a restaurant on the ground floor and fitted out three comfortable bedrooms above. A delicious experience.
Back to that Q&A
How To Lose Competitions
My own pet hate as a judge is reading The day had started badly or It had been one of those days. Such an opening is invariably followed by a detailed explanation of what went wrong. You can think of the sort of thing. Bert set the alarm for 8.15 when he meant to set 7.15; the dog escaped when he opened the door; the milk was off and the toaster exploded.
All of this ‘back-story’ is perfectly acceptable character creation, BUT the reader doesn’t need to read it. They need to absorb it by your showing of it in the action of the story you’re telling.
As the writer think – how does your man react to losing the dog? How does his body react to a mouthful of sour milk? How is he coping NOW?
Another issue raised by this sort of beginning is word count. If you have 1500 words, why are you wasting them by describing events outside your story?
There was other discussion and folk did have questions. They may come up in later posts.
Weather: I hope you’ll scroll down and read the post about the use of weather in our fiction. It was great fun to write and I loved the others in the Round Robin. However, apart from shameful self-publication, may I just say I need the light on to see the keyboard this morning as yet another sleet shower passes by…
So, I’m no agony aunt, but what puzzles you most about losing writing competitions? I don’t write poetry, folks. And like every other judge, one has to say that a different eye might have made a different choice.