Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 29 Meeting Report

We had a fun meeting last night with 27 in attendance and 7 readers. A warm welcome to new member Bill Walles from Washington, who recently moved to Vegas.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: We are going to try a new farmer's market this FRIDAY. We will NOT be at the Thursday market on Water Street, but at the Green Valley Farmer's Market at 200 S. Green Valley Parkway (by the library, under the large white pavilion near the green). The market runs from 10 am to 4 pm. You are welcome to come and sell books, visit, or just enjoy the nice atmosphere.

Congratulations to Ariel Belanger on being a finalist in the Once upon a Tome writing contest on gaelsong.com. I believe we can vote for her at http://www.gaelsong.com/samhain_contest

Our next meeting is our Monday weekly meeting on November 5th at the Lutheran Church on Tropicana. For more information about our meetings, see the calendar.

"You don't have to give a dollar, but we look at you funny if you don't."

We have a tradition of giving a dollar to the treasurer each time someone shares a brag. Did you know that these brag dollars are used to support the writing contest sponsored by our group?

WRITING TIP from Jo Wilkins: Passive voice (where the subject receives the action, not performs the action [the ball was thrown by Jack -- passive vs. Jack threw the ball --active]) slows the prose instead pulling the reader into the story. Google “Passive Voice in Writing” and look at sites that deal with, when or not to use it. Two sites I found are www.hamilton.edu/writing/seven-sins-of-writing/the-deadly-sin-of-passive-voice and www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/passivevoice.html 

Our article this week comes from the blog of our member Amanda Skenandore: http://rewritingamanda.wordpress.com

Obey the Rules or Break them Well

Rules for the writer abound in every craft source. Writers groups, blogs, journals, and books berate newbies with axioms and strictures. Don’t use passive voice. Avoid “as”, “was”, and any world ending in “ly”. Watch out for dangling modifiers and chunky sentence construction.

After spending countless hours trying to vanquish these demons in my own writing (though I do give myself a little leeway in the this blog), I cringe whenever I see them in other’s.

Though I hate to get caught in the crossfire of public sentiment, Fifty Shades of Grey serves this point well. I first heard about it in a New York Times article when the novel was still largely obscure. It piqued my interest and I happily bought the e-book when Vintage bought the rights and released it with full force on the US market.

Definitely a waste of money. I slogged through fifty pages then had to put it down. At the risk of sounding haughty, it gave new meaning to the word amateurish.

In fairness, E. L. James is a debut author and wrote the piece as fan fiction. It was never meant to be highbrow literature. And it is a national bestseller so she must have done something right—I just don’t have the time and patience to figure it out.

But now I’m reading Wolf Hall, an acclaimed novel of historical fiction set in King Henry VIII’s court. In 2009, it won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. One judge praised “the boldness of its narrative.”

Bold is one way to put it. I find the narrative cumbersome and opaque. Hilary Mantel flouts all the rules. She lays down huge tracks of description all at once. She uses the pronoun “he” without clear indication of its antecedent. Her point of view is muddled.

Of course, Mantel also employs vivid word choice, subtle flecks of irony, and witty dialogue. She demands a lot of her reader and rewards them with intelligent, albeit, nonstandard writing. The difference between Mantel and James is that Mantel’s “mistakes” are intentional. She comes off brazen; James comes off inept.

In the case of Wolf Hall, I claim full responsibility for my disgruntled reaction to its prose. I’ve taken the rules of writing and made them sacrosanct. I’ve become so rigid I can no longer appreciate the beauty and, yes, the boldness of originality.

I’m a tenderfoot author, still learning the craft. Studying the pillars of good writing and employing them in my work does make it better. Nuisance and spice come with time, practice, and a solid foundation from which to springboard. And it begins with learning to appreciate the deft way masters bend the rules.

Amanda Skenandore

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Upcoming Events & Places for Writers & Readers

At the Henderson Writers Group we support education and events around the Las Vegas Valley

Las Vegas Writers Conference

April 18-20, 2013

Annual Student Writing Contest

The Henderson Writers Group is serious about educating writers. We believe that our youth, specifically students, are the place to start. To further these efforts we have established this writing contest to award scholarships to the best of these budding authors.
See Website for details & submission guidelines.

Vegas Valley Book Festival


Clark County Nevada Libraries