This meeting was well attended with 19 writers in the seats. Linda Bond returned from the frozen north to join us until the snow melts. We missed you. Joining us for the first time was Susan Sofie Bierker, author of Me, Too!: Child and Adult Sexual Abuse Prevention. Sofie asked if we could make a few suggestions as to why her book is not selling too well. She read the back cover blurb and got a number of suggestions which seemed to please her. Good luck Sofie.
I received a few suggestions as to what direction our discussion should take. This week I picked some I thought would evoke passionate input, It seems I was correct for at least once in my life.
How much research do you do when writing a fictional piece?
How do you use the research?
Do you remain accurate to the findings or do you use poetic license?
Do you care about being accurate with details or do you simply write for fun and make stuff up?
We took off on a discussion in which we heard at least 10 points of view on the subject. Most all agreed research is important for fiction and non-fiction work. One even quoted an unremembered source as saying "non-fiction is 83% truth while fiction is 83% truth." After a few surprised looks, a light seemed to appear in the eyes of most of the group. It dawned on even me, writers write what they know in most cases. When writing fiction, either research or personal knowledge lends much to the story resulting in a great amount of truth making its way to the page.
One of us recalled having a character drinking a beer in his story. During an edit of the piece, he wondered if that brand of beer existed in the time-frame in which his story took place. Some research proved him correct and he could proceed without worry. Another found their characters eating food unknown to the citizens of the century. I related as to how I once wrote a chapter in which I had fluorescent lighting in a home two years before it was commercially available. Each of these errors was found and corrected before publication. Did you ever wonder about your work?
The consensus of the group was unanimous, research for anything you write, with the possible exception of pure fantasy, is needed to present a readable and reasonably accurate story. Even Science Fiction requires research, presenting a story in the future with today's outdated technology would probably turn your readers off quickly.
Each of us works to put a good story on paper. If we are accurate, readers can relate to our work and read without question. Make an error and some reader will be sure to find it. Let's hope it's a small one and only a select few people will find it, preferably our Beta Readers.
As our discussion drew to a close we took a short break and moved on to a presentation by Peter Frickle. On Peter's bookshelf, the works of numerous masters abound. Hemingway, Faulkner, Dumas, and others inspire his writings. He's read biographies and memoirs by many of these renowned authors. As a result, he penned his view on what memoirs attract readers and here are a few points he made.
Think small, those little details lend authenticity to the story, they give the reader something to which they can relate in their lives. If you think only of grandiose happenings in life, can you fill the pages of a book? Was your life so big, so interesting, it can garner the attention of readers? If so, that's wonderful but most memoirs are less spectacular and are written to share the little, poignant moments of our lives. Look for the human factor, the human connection. The story must have continuity, each segment must flow seamlessly into the next. Break the story into logical sections, attack a large project by breaking it into manageable chunks and show a personal connection with the places and people in your life. Readers do not connect with whining, whining, whining. Don't complain, relate.
Peter's advice is given freely and without a directive, it's meant to help writers in accordance with the goal of this group.
As we moved into the reading portion of the evening, we had a large number of requests but time is limited. So, next meeting the opening readers will be, Debbie, Leah, and Dennis. Thank you for your patience.
Ernie Ovitz took us back in time to 311AD. The Prefect of Rome (now we would call him the Chief of Police) engages in a bit of pillow-talk with his lover. During the sensual repose, he reveals more information about spies in Rome than intended. Will this cause a problem with Emperor Constantine?
Rod read a portion of a chapter he read at the last meeting. After incorporating some suggestions and advice from the group, he revised the work. The revisions were met with approval and declared workable.
"More mayhem" is what Doug Sahlin promised in presenting a chapter from his latest Yale Larson saga. Yale takes a call from an acquaintance relating a death threat against her business partner, one of Yale's clients. Rushing to a development site, Yale encounters his client exiting a trailer-office on the property. Shoving him back inside just in time to avoid a clear shot from a sniper, Yale calls the police and contends with high-velocity rifle rounds puncturing the walls of the building. When one of the rounds strikes his client in the buttocks Yale drags him to a safe area and returns fire. Even though his automatic handgun is outmatched, he hopes the sheer volume of shots will cause the sniper to be less accurate and maybe he can even land a lucky shot. What's next?
Poetry is one of the long suits of this group as we are blessed by some wonderful poets as well as prose writers. Don Westerfield is a class-act in the poetry department. He is launching a new book in a few weeks entitled, Seasons. Fortunately, he treated us to his reading of the introduction and title poem. When it hits the market, I suggest everyone buy a copy, it's worthwhile reading.
Amari the Prankster, a chapter in the biography of a Cuban Chef by Jeffrey Kutcher will be a great read when it's finished. Jeffrey presented the chapter in which Amari tricks the lunchroom monitors into giving him a second meal, strictly prohibited by the system. By rushing to eat in the lunchroom, Amari takes his place near the front of the line, he eats quickly and leaves by a back door. Moments later, he returns to the end of the line and waits patiently for his turn. This was the beginning of Amari's revolt against the rule of Castro's Communistic Reign.
Fantasy or Science Fiction? Rene Fletcher brought us a chapter from her latest work. Ava is inducted into a sisterhood of women of Inner Earth. During the ceremony, a vision of evil spilling from Pandora's box to infest the minds of humans is reflected in a pool of magical water. This is our introduction to Mind Mites.
When Bill Elam took the floor his reading of a new chapter in his story about a nameless old man held us entranced. Bill's reading style and well-crafted words carried us into a grandfatherly relationship between the old man and a small child. Emotion blanketed the room and more than one eye became misty.
It seemed as if the clock was racing and too soon it was time to draw to a close. As we made our way to the parking lot, small knots of writers continued discussions. This really is a group of writers, readers, and listeners.
Until next time, February 20th at 6:30 PM; Keep on Writing!
Schedule and Location
Welcome to the Sarasota Writers Group Blog. Meetings are held the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Nokomis Fire Station, located just a few blocks south of Albee Road (where Matthews-Currie Ford is located) at Pavonia Road. We are on the west, or bay side, of U.S. 41, by the Fire Station's flashing yellow caution traffic light. If you are coming from the south on US 41, we are just north of Dona Bay. Turn on Pavonia and pull to the far end, or west side, of the firehall. Please do not block the fire doors! We meet in the training room on the far side of the complex. Gathering time: 6:00 pm Meeting called to order: 6:30 pm Ten minute break: 7:50 pm Meeting Finishes at 9:00 pm