reading and writing poems about nature

Starts: Mon 4th January 2021

Ends: Mon 8th March 2021

Mondays 10:30am – 11:30am

Or Mondays 7:30pm to 8:30pm

Cost: £50

Rediscover your love of poetry!

…Or maybe you’re looking to find it.

This ten-week course is aimed at people who want to read, write and discuss popular poetry with a group of friendly, like-minded individuals.

The sessions are delivered via Zoom, which allows everyone to easily share their work on the screen as well as take turns to ask questions and share thoughts about the chosen poems.

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Mai Black – Course Co-ordinator

Beginners and experienced writers are equally welcome. I have deliberately chosen poems which are well-known and accessible to all.

Each week, read the poem in advance and print out a copy. Try to think of a comment to make or question to ask. During the session, everyone will write a short piece which can either be shared straight-away or worked on before the next session.

On weeks five and ten all participants can choose to read a short published poem as well as one of their own pieces.

The course costs £50 for ten one-hour sessions and is payable by direct debit. If you email me your mobile phone number, I can text you my bank details.

For more information, email suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com.

Or phone me on 07943 068033 (I’m Mai – pronounced May)

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Suffolk Writers Group at work and play. (I’m in the middle at the top).

Here is some of the lovely feedback I received about the last course.

‘This course has been great fun giving me the experience to return to poetry and fully appreciate it.  When I was at school the teacher hated poetry so I never went back to it. I have learnt so much in a relaxed and informative way.  Thank you Mai for a great experience.  I look forward to the next one.’ – Jacqui Martin

‘All I can say is thank goodness for lockdown. Without it I’d never have found this lovely group. Mai is great – I’ve learnt so much in such a short length of time.’ – Sue Dale

‘Brilliant insightful course, rediscovering the beauty of language.’ – Ian Speed

‘It’s such a supportive group and Mai does such a great job in keeping us motivated.’ – Ian Hartley

Poems for discussion and inspiration

Week One – I Remember, I Remember by Thomas Hood

Week Two – Pied Beauty – Gerald Manley Hopkins

Week Three – Everybody Sang by Siegfried Sasoon

Week Four – Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening – Robert Frost

Week Five – Members’ Choice

Week Six – Emmonsail’s Heath in Winter by John Clare

Week Seven – The Sunlight on the Garden by Louis McNeice

Week Eight – Home – Thoughts from Abroad by Robert Browning

Week Nine – Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney

Week Ten – Members’ Choice

(All these poems can be found in this book. You will also be able to find them easily with an internet search)

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To visit our main website and find out about other writing courses and creative writing resources, click here.

Exploring nineteenth century poetry

During this ten-week course, we’ll be reading and discussing some of the most iconic British poems of the nineteenth century.

Beginning with Daffodils by William Wordsworth, each week will consist of a reading, a chance for everyone to share their ideas and a ten-minute slot for everyone to write a response to the poem. You can then choose whether or not to share your written work with the group.

You’ll learn (or revise) a variety of rhythms, rhyme schemes and poetic forms as well as getting a sense of what it meant to be a nineteenth century poet.

In the future, I will also be running similar courses based on seventeenth, eighteenth and twentieth century poetry.

Currently, all courses are taking place on Zoom. I will be holding regular practice sessions so that you can get used to the system before signing up for a course.

The course costs £50 for ten one-hour sessions and is payable by direct debit or cheque.

I am intending to run this course from 10.30-11.30am on Thursdays, starting in early July but let me know if you can’t make that day/time as I currently have a degree of flexibility.

For more information, please email me at suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com.

John Keats

Here is some of the lovely feedback I received about the last course.

‘This course has been great fun giving me the experience to return to poetry and fully appreciate it.  When I was at school the teacher hated poetry so I never went back to it. I have learnt so much in a relaxed and informative way.  We were all at different levels but it did not matter everyone was so friendly.   Thank you Mai for a great experience.  I look forward to the next one.’ – Jacqui Martin

‘All I can say is thank goodness for lockdown. Without it I’d never have found this lovely group. Mai is great – I’ve learnt so much in such a short length of time.’ – Sue Dale

‘Brilliant insightful course, rediscovering the beauty of language.’ – Ian Speed

‘It’s such a supportive group and Mai does such a great job in keeping us motivated.’ – Ian Hartley

Poems for Discussion and Inspiration

1807 – ‘Daffodils’ by William Wordsworth 

1820 – Ode To Autumn by John Keats (27th April)

1842 – The Lady of Shalott by Alfred Lord Tennyson

1850 – How Do I Love Thee?  – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

(Own choice of poems)

1862 – Remember by Christina Rossetti

1871 – The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

1885 – From a Railway Carriage by Robert Louis Stevenson

1890 – The Lake Isle of Innisfree – WB Yeats

Own choice of poem and Poetry Quiz

Suffolk Writers Group at work and play

To visit our main website, click here.

What do people want from a first chapter?

I asked members of the writing group what they want from the first chapter in a novel.

Here is a selection of the answers:-

Jen

I need to feel pulled into the story, dropped into the middle of the action and convinced that I don’t want to climb back out again! I like an immediate sense of action and character. I want to be intrigued, surprised even, but not confused. l like prose that is effortless to read but has emotional resonance and rhythm. I want the writer to make me feel – to make me connect – from the very first page.

Tony

Intrigue and engagement. If it is a writer I know I am likely to settle in confidently. If it is a new one he or she will need to engage with me by the thoughts and ideas which I am reading. These provide the intrigue for the story development however slow or fast that may be.

Mike

The reader’s attention must be arrested by the first sentence. The lead need not necessarily appear, but should certainly in the chapter that follows. There must be movement. Not necessarily physical, for example someone running or swimming, but a sense of movement towards danger, or the unknown. The reader must immediately care about the character in play, enough to wish to know what happens next. Lack of movement, in other words stasis, is death to the opening chapter, and therefore the book.

Here’s a list of things other people said they are looking for in a first chapter:-

  • Being immediately immersed in a scene
  • Beautiful language
  • A character in conflict
  • An original voice
  • An engaging, welcoming voice
  • A likeable character
  • A feeling of forward momentum
  • Empathy and/or sympathy
  • Believability
  • Questions that need answering

Here are some of the things that would put us off a novel

  • Being confused
  • Incorrect grammar/spelling
  • Small, dense text in an unattractive font
  • A lack of originality
  • A setting we can’t identify with
  • Too much backstory
  • Cliché

What about you? What are you looking for in a first chapter?

Join the Suffolk Writers Group Facebook Page to take part in this and similar discussions.

First Chapter Creative Writing Course

Live on Zoom, ten sessions, small group, one-to-one feedback by email

In Summer 2021 I’ll be running a course to support people with writing and editing their first chapter. Email me if you want to go on the mailing list for that or any of the poetry or short story writing courses.

suffolkwritersgroup@gmail.com

Members of Suffolk Writing Group 2020

Good Openers for Novels

Head lamp
Head lamp

I just had to publish these story openers from Dan, Gem and Kelly. Fantastic work, you three!

A Little Known Story of Graeme Le Saux

Graeme Le Saux liked to pretend he was a lampshade. After all, he had to find something to fill the time after he couldn’t make football punditry work. He felt much more suited to this. And every Sunday in the quiet of his Surrey home, he’d put a lampshade on his head and sit perfectly still for a few hours or so.

He’d really come along since he’d first started. Having fashioned a proper shade out of one of his wife’s old dresses, and running electrical wires to his head to actually make light. “I’m going to be the best lampshade ever,” he thought to himself.

He remembered back when he’d first started and his old Southampton teammate James Beattie had called him a homo and a complete tit when he told him of his new hobby but he didn’t care, he was beautiful. And that’s all he really wanted to be. He’d tried to show it in his marauding runs and kicking David Batty whenever he played him in his football career. Only now did he really feel he had brought light into the world in a way he never had before.

He was running from room to room one day. Trying different places and generally giggling like a crushing schoolgirl, when there were his friends. Gathered round with sombre looks on their faces. Graeme would never forget this day as the day that he ran and never looked back. Some say that if you look in the mirror and say his name three times he appears, and that he still lights the darkest places. The truth is, no one really knows.

By Dan

 

Busy Hands

Truly Furlow’s hook wove the wool deftly. She’d first learned to crochet as a young child at her grandmother’s insistence – “The Devil finds work for idle hands” she always said. Trudy, being only small at the time, thought that as her grandmother always found work for her hands, the old woman must be the Devil. Her wide blue eyes would squint away in fear as the hook and wool were handed to her. Being only small, she dare not disobey.
Twenty years of daily crochet had turned her into a pro; she could whip up a wooden extravaganza wherever she was. But her favourite place was here – the graveyard of St Mary’s on the Quay. It was a graveyard love had long since left. The only flowers were thistles and the stones were crumbling like hobnobs dunked in tea for too long. A soupy mist would often sneak in from the nearby river and tug at her ankles as she sat on the bench. It was an atmosphere most would find creepy but Trudy felt safe here. Safe from the Devil.
Purple strands stirred through the black as the hooded cloak she was crocheting grew. Soon she would start on an edging of silver thread – but not yet. She needed to do it under the light of the full moon so it would soak up the moons protection and cast it over her when she wore it. But the moon had not yet risen and she needed that protection. Today was her 27th birthday. Her grandmother would be coming for her.”

By Gem

 

Claire Morris liked watching black and white movies. At 42 she was past caring about having company. She preferred to go on her own, submersing herself in worlds of handsome heroes. She would imagine herself to be the beauty they fought over, instead of the short, mousy haired woman she really was.

It was Sunday afternoon and she was at the Playhouse Cinema, row ‘h’, centre seat. It was her place of worship. As the glow of the screen shrouded her, she felt truly happy. Far removed from the realities of life, from the disappointment it contained. Occasionally the outside world would try and worm it’s way into her consciousness. Why couldn’t her husband be as chivalrous as Cary Grant? She would feel the familiar knot of anxiety stir in her chest, but she pushed it back down. She refused to think about him. Not here.

By Kelly

Alphabet of Writing Practice

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Things for writers to consider:-

  1. Adverbs/adjectives
  2. Boringness
  3. Clichés
  4. Dodgy similes and metaphors
  5. Emotion
  6. Figurative language
  7. Genres
  8. Heroes
  9. Imagery
  10. Justification
  11. Knockout ending
  12. Length of words and sentences
  13. Metre
  14. Nouns
  15. Opposites
  16. Punctuation!!!??!
  17. Quests and Questions
  18. Rhyme
  19. Structure
  20. Time
  21. Understanding
  22. Viewpoint
  23. What’s the point?
  24. Xtremes
  25. Your sanity
  26. Zzzzz (the sound of a reader snoring)

 

 

 

Writing Screenplays

arlingtons group

Google ‘screenplay structure’ and you’ll soon end up with a massive headache.

There are hundreds and hundreds of different approaches.  There is some overlap but this makes it harder, not easier, to make sense of it all.

The same is true with structuring novels and plays but when I’ve researched how to structure those, you don’t read things like: ‘If you don’t write it exactly as I’ve told you – with plot points planned to the second, you will utterly fail.’

My version is a combination of those I have studied.

I would say the five main plot points are:-

1.  The Inciting Incident (sets everything in motion (eg. someone dies, falls in love)

2.  The Lock In (the point of no return)

3.  Midpoint (reversal of fortune, where the victim starts fighting back)

4.  Climax (the high point of emotional intensity (eg. the chase scene, the battle, self-sacrifice, death, the reveal)

5. Resolution (A coming together of all elements – often a celebration or sometimes a peaceful death)

In group, we used that to analyse our favourite films and then plotted out storylines of our own.

This Week’s Homework 

Bring an idea for a story in terms of either:

a) a summary

b) a ‘once upon a time’ type children’s story (this also works with stories for adults)

c) A storyboard

d) A graph/table showing how you’ve used the plot points to structure the story.

seven types of story telling

If you want to be part of a similar group where you discuss ideas and share your work, click here.

https://suffolkwritersgroup.com/

(Don’t worry – you don’t need to live in Suffolk. I also run courses online.)