History and purpose of the Writing Group.
At the very first session of the Lanzarote Creative Writing Group the members were given a list of subjects and asked to write for 15 minutes on each of two of them. No-one was obliged to share what they had written but everyone wanted to do so. The session demonstrated that the same title could evoke lots of different responses, that everyone had something worth sharing and that seemingly very mundane topics could inspire remarkable results.
Everyone came back the next week.
Every few weeks a summary of the sessions and the skills and techniques practised was given out to members. Often they were surprised to realise that while they thought that they had just practised writing a little story or sharing a few reflections they had in fact been focusing on some specific aspect of writing and developing their writing styles and abilities in structured ways.
More recently we have chosen a topic and discussed, in advance why it is useful, how to do it well, what works, what are its pitfalls and so on, sometimes over a short series of sessions.
Because of the nature of the island the group changes constantly as people come and go, sometimes seasonally, sometimes due to work schedules or other commitments. This means that most sessions have to stand alone and have value as the same group might not be present to follow up what we have done.
Topics recur and we spiral around the main ones adding, developing further, practising, trying new approaches but basically the format of doing an exercise, sharing our work and inviting each other to comment and offer criticism remains the same, mostly because it works and has kept people coming back for more.
We have focused on character a lot as characterisation is central to most fiction writing. Even in a biographical piece or factual reportage developing empathy for and understanding of the central character is important and this is an example of how most writing skills are transferable although they may appear to be specific to one genre or style. Figurative language and poetic techniques such as alliteration, use of similes or metaphor and so on, work just as well in prose. Good description is vital in most types of writing….
We have focused on story line, plotting, setting, use of vocabulary, viewpoint, voice, atmosphere, dialogue, close first person, active and passive detail…. The list is almost endless. Sometimes we try some poetry, we have written travel pieces, reports, witness statements, reviews, speeches……
My role is to keep coming up with fresh ideas, although some are, I hope, well worth revisiting (nobody ever got a six-pack through doing sit ups once!) and to prepare materials and the format of the session.
I devise exercises and hope to make the sessions varied, interesting, useful and fun. I try to make it clear why we do certain things, what I think is the value of the exercise, what skill it highlights or what technique it demonstrates and I hope to encourage everyone to feel that they are gaining confidence and improving their writing abilities in a friendly, informal atmosphere. Individual members may find they enjoy some weeks more than others but I hope they will see some value in every session.We have had members of all levels of ability and experience from complete beginners to published authors. Everyone’s work has value. New members are always welcome and it does not matter if you cannot come every week but want to join us when you can.
I am learning as I go along too and members are welcome to make suggestions if there is anything in particular that they would like to focus on in a session.
Please keep an eye on the blog (and remember that comments are wanted and useful):
writersend.com and if you are on facebook there is a facebook page for the group: Lanzarote Creative Writing Group, and one linked to the blog: WritersEnd Creative Writing. My phone number is 630 751 106 Please use my yahoo account if you wish to e mail me: