Monday, July 26, 2010

Meeting Minutes July 25, 2010

I was late arriving to the meeting. Thanks to Pat for taking notes for the first hour that I missed and for sending them to me right after the meeting.

Richard passed around headshots for individual approval. Some retakes were done after the meeting.

Gloria shared page set up samples for bios and content for the anthology. She advised that she has decided on a 6x9 inch book, a little larger than her previous anthology Stories of Prayers and Faith. The group agreed that the smaller sized bio and picture were more appropriate as to not overpower the page (Richard's words). Headers and footers were agreed upon by the group members present.

Kelli pointed out that the website still has the photo of the library on it. Richard is going to take a picture of the church and forward it to Shirley so she can change it on the website.

It was agreed that A Walk in Fields of Gold is the final title for the anthology. Richard has been trying to match the font from the HWG logo, but has been unsuccessful. Pat will email Rich Landriault who produced the logo and see if he can help.

Pat advised that the official HWG membership list includes names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and birthdates; and that this list is only distributed to Nancy, Shirley, Laura and Diane. She suggested sending to the group via email a list of names and addresses only. Everyone agreed.

Another reminder was issued to have submissions and bios emailed to Gloria by the end of July.

And this is where I took over.....

Richard brought up a discussion about using prologues and epilogues. A lot of editors don't like them. They feel the information should be woven into the body of the story. Richard argued that there are times when they are appropriate to use. For example, when part of your backstory takes place hundreds of years before the novel, a writer can use a prologue for the distant past information. When a novel concludes in a way that the reader needs a little more information to be sure things ended up "happily ever after", you can use an epilogue to let us know how things turned out. They are mostly used in mysteries, sci-fi and fantasy novels. David wondered if it was the editor who was unnecessary, not the prologue or epilogue.
Richard reminded us that 2001: A Space Odessey was a prologue.

Laura read a piece to us that we asked her to post to the blog. It was called "Revenge on the Editor" and included several members of our group in the cast! Very funny story.

The prompt was based on Richard's last blog post about "What's in a Name?"
We were handed names written on slips of paper and told to write a character description and plot using the name. Most of us got something on paper, but some of us were caught up in the discussions about names and the stereotypes of names. As writers, we work hard on our story lines and settings, but sometimes forget how important names are. What it does come down to, however, is a matter of perspective and what the author chooses.

Some of the names Richard handed out were: Daniel, Theodore, Eugene, Laura, Betty, Wilma, Bella (Isabella or Belladonna), Wilbur, Warren, Elizabeth, Robert, Raven, Barry. Everyone found that we had to work a little harder for "stereotype" names and "non-exciting" names.

Ways that some of our members choose names for their characters are: from people they know or have met, baby name books, on-line name lists.

Last night I looked up some tips for naming fictional characters. I came across three interesting sites to check out:
Hope these can help to answer some questions. Out of all my writing books at home, I only found a short section in one magazine that even referenced this topic.

This is an excerpt from an article by Sam McCarver in The Writer from March 2009 (Page 23):
"Give characters fitting names that suit their roles and personalities. Would the name Felix Frump bring to mind a fearless, intriguing detective? No, but it might well apply to a comic character in a humorous novel. A tough detective would more likely have a name like Dirty Harry. A character, therefore, should be given a name that fits his or her individuality. The names Ebenezer Scrooge, Zorro, Frankenstein, Tarzan, James Bond and Dirk Pitt are all fitting, unique fictional names that in themselves can help evoke visual images and impressions of the characters.
Give your cast of characters names with clear differences-some shorter names, other longer, using various letters of the alphabet, each name having a different basic sound. The deadly villain of Star Wars is aptly named DarthVader, using hard consonants, while the heroic character exploring the far reaches of the universe is suitably named Luke Skywalker, emphasizing vowels. Janet Evanovich gave her female sleuth an intriguing name, Stephanie Plum, that is very rhythmical-a long, soft first name of three syllables, balanced by a single-syllable but soft surname.
Movie studios realized that the real names of potential stars could be burdens and so made them more memorable. Thus, we saw no movies with Archibald Leach, but enjoyed many with Cary Grant-his studio name. Greta Gustafson became Greta Garbo, and Marion Morrison took the name John Wayne.Elmore Leonard has said, "Sometimes a character doesn't work until I change his name." If your character names don't fit, change them."

Our next meeting is August 8, 2010. Harry will be leading.
Hope to see you all then.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's in a name?

I have been asked to post a guest blog on our site and I thought I'd blog about tomorrow's writing prompt. This will give our members a bit of a heads up and some time to ponder.

This particular prompt was born from a discussion I had with Gloria regarding names. Gloria was editing the first chapter from my second novel "The Camera Guy" for submission to our Anthology and along with several excellent suggestions came a question regarding the name of my main character.

Did the name suit the character?
Did the name suit the plot of the story?

Being the stubborn individual that I am I quickly informed her that the name was indeed proper and as far as I was concerned, written in stone. I can be quite stubborn at times. My explanation for this stemmed from the fact that the story and the main character are both grounded in my own experiences as a Police Officer and Forensic Investigator and the character's name born from my own. My middle names are William Walter after my father and so "Bill Walters" came into being.

After having declared the rule of law regarding Bill's name I sat back and began to look at Gloria's question from a different angle. My choice of name was strictly personal and I began to wonder if it was indeed appropriate for the story. Was 'Bill' a strong enough name for the character? Did it tell the reader anything about the man? I'm not sure if I've answered those questions honestly but I've decided to keep Bill around. (at least for now)

It did however, give me much to think about regarding the naming of characters. Not only the main character but for the other characters that appear in the story.

How important are names in a story?

Outside of plot, I really believe that names can make or break a story. A characters name should fit not only the plot but the authors envisioned 'look' and 'feel' of the character. A 'Eugene' rippling with muscles and picking up an M-16 to charge the enemy might take a whole chapter to bring the reader to the critical point of 'suspension of disbelief' if ever.

An author should also beware the 'stereotypical and cliche' traps in names. The 'Dirks' and 'Biffs' of the name world hold their own visuals that no amount of writing can dispell.

If you are writing a non-fiction, then the writer is safe from these pitfalls. The reader is aware that the story is factual and the names, no matter how strange, are easily accepted.

Period piece stories can also be difficult where names are concerned. The writer should research the names that were in use during that time period and for that location as well as the meaning for that particular name.

I've only scratched the surface regarding the naming of characters but I think I've given enough to help fellow writers in their search for the proper names.

As for tomorrow's prompt?

I will be attending the meeting armed with a list of names that will be passed out to my fellow guildians and they will be required to build the character and a brief plot outline from that name.

Good luck to all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What Shall I Write?

I promised to write something for the blog and here it is nearly class time again and I haven’t done it. I feel guilty and a slow panic is creeping in around my damp temples. What do I write before facing the group this Sunday? Maybe I’ll write about procrastination. My trusty Thesaurus offers plenty of synonyms: delay, put off doing something, postpone action, defer action, be dilatory, use delaying tactics, stall, temporize, drag one's feet/heels, take one's time, play for time, play a waiting game.

It also wisely suggest that fear of failure often causes people to procrastinate. This time, I didn’t think I feared failing, I just could’t come up with a juicy interesting topic. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, (and I paraphrase): “The worse sin in writing is to bore your readers.”

Maybe I should pretend I am in a writing workshop and have 25 minutes to write an original piece. In the past, that has helped me come up with a half decent chunk which I can extend and polish later. Hmmm. Okay, back to the word: procrastination. Let’s break it apart. The first meaning listed for pro is to favour something. However, I don’t know the meaning for crastination to know whether I favour it or not, and not being fluent in Latin or Greek I know not its roots. Does anybody out there know what crastinate means? Pro also means professional. I don’t think I’m a profession procrastinator, although my sister might think so. How many times can I put off tidying up that heap of papers on my desk, and what about that tower of books by my bedside. I really am reading them, but why is it that I keep adding to the pile faster than I can finish one of them? Okay, maybe I am a procrasinator. I really am curious, however, to know the meaning of crastinate - whoops nearly typed castrate. Okay - maybe there is a connection. Using its figurate meaning of derpriving one of power, vitality, or vigor, I agree that procrastination can indeed do that to one.

On that note, I believe I will finish before I use anymore delaying tactics, except to say that when I was looking for the Oscar Wilde quote I came up with the following two that I think my writing comrades will appreciate.

Happy writing . . . and reading.

P.S. Just found from Wordnik: "fr. L. crastinum - tomorrow” And you know that they say about tomorrow!

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest

“The good ended happily,and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.” Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Post to My Blog

Thank you for all the well wishes for my birthday. I hope you will all check out my personal blog. I have posted a piece about how I spent my big day. Here is a little teaser...

"I celebrated my birthday this weekend surrounded by family and friends. Last night I sat up late watching..."

Go to to find out more.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Diane!

It's Diane's birthday on Sunday. Everyone wish her a big happy birthday.

Happy Birthday, Diane. Hope you have a great day filled with love, fun and inspiration.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meeting Minutes July 11, 2010

A lot of emails have been flying around through the group lately and I wanted to wait until the flurry died down before I posted the minutes. To protect the innocent, I will not use names in one of the discussions we had during the meeting.

Nancy was leading this week since Judy was away. We had a bit of discussion about whether or not to introduce ourselves to Marilyn, our new member, since a lot of us already knew her from the Retreat in Eramosa Eden and the photo shoot in the canola field. In the end, we did a quick go around the circle.

Richard received is copy of Manuscript Submissions for winning the blog contest held by C. Patrick Schulz during HWG week on his blog. He offered it up to anyone who wants to borrow it. It was printed in 1990 and relates more to typewriters than computers, but does hold some nuggets of wisdom for those who would like to see it. Alberta took it home this week.

Nancy asked if we could take turns being the "Guest" Bloggers on our own blog. We would like to have people post blogs about writing, their struggle with getting published, anything to do with the writing process.

Richard had set up a little photography studio in the room and took the rest of the headshots for the anthology.

During the readings, we had one member complain about the length of another member's short story. The direct quote was that it was "putting people to sleep." That launched a discussion about how long items should be that people read in the group. The piece in question was about 5000 words. Glenn and Nancy agreed that we all need to have tolerance of what people read. Sometimes members read aloud short stories that are longer than others.

Over the years, we have learned it is easier NOT to have a limit. Members will tell us if it is a longer piece than normal and we can decide to cut it short or wait for another meeting depending on the time available. Since we have no need to vacate the room by 3:45pm anymore, we have a little extra time to allow for longer items. When members let us know beforehand that the story is longer than usual, we can make that choice as a group BEFORE.
We are a group created to SUPPORT and HELP each other, not judge each other.
That can be done outside the group if anyone wants a real critique.

The prompts this week were a little different than normal. Nancy handed out fortune cookies and we used the fortunes as our prompts! What a delicious idea! I didn't collect or write down everyone's fortunes, but mine was "You have a good head for matters of money." From it, I wrote a piece about a man down to his last $5.

This is my own aside here, consider it an afterthought of our meeting:
We need to revamp our website. If any member wishes to be included on the website and post some short pieces of fiction or non-fiction, please contact me, Nancy or Shirley. Shirley will set you up! Our little group has grown considerably and we want to give all of you what exposure we can so that when Agents and Publishes and Fans look us up, they have something great to find!!!

Keep in mind our next meeting is JULY 25, 2010 and Richard will be leading.
As soon as we can find him...right Waldo?

Keep Writing!