Monday, 21 October 2013

Yeovil Literary Festival - by Margaret Graham

It's high time I wrote about the stunningly successful Yeovil Literary Festival which began on 19th September. There was a terrific line up of writing stars including Tony Robinson, Sante Montefiore, Paddy Ashdown and Michael Morpurgo.  The event was organised by Adam Burgan, Manager of The Octagon, Marcus Bishop Manager of Yeovil Waterstones and Liz Pike, doyenne of the Yeovil Community Arts Association and Yeovil Literary Prize. 

Tony Robinson's session at The Octagon brought tears to the eyes of Marcus, my old mate and partner in crime. We used to do a lot of events together. The tears? He told me it was because Tony connected so effortlessly with the children and captured their imaginations. I missed it unfortunately as I was still on my way down from High Wycombe. Why is it that good things happen on the same day.
I was chairing a history event on my home territory and at lunch handed over to Sylvia, my Chair of Vice, as she likes to be called and galloped on down to Somerset. I made it just in time for the Literary Dinner hosted by the Yeovil Community Arts Association which I ran a few years ago, and of which I am Patron. It is now led by Liz Pike, who is a force of nature. Here she is, talking to Marcus and Hazel, the management team of Watersones, Yeovil.

Santa Montefiore was our speaker at the Literary Dinner held at The Manor Hotel. How very dare such a slim elegant package be such a funny, erudite and charming person. It's totally not fair. We all loved her
stories, and enjoy her books, the latest of which is Secrets of the Lighthouse. She is sitting here with Adam Burgen, my new best friend. He did the most amazing job with the Literary Festival and he and Sean, his assistant, steered it throughout the weekend. The Manor Hotel sponsored the dinner, the proceeds going to the YCAA, a charity that provides funds for the creative arts of the area. I found myself there in between sessions eating, having the odd glass of wine and enjoying the cappuccinos. I am known as a pain in the neck where cappuccinos are concerned, and The Manor passed with flying colours.

Tracy Baines and I ran a workshop and a number 1-2-1 editorial sessions on Saturday at The Octagon Theatre, in the Johnson Studio to raise funds for  Words for the Wounded. The standard of work was exemplary and the enthusiasm boundless. It's so exciting to meet aspiring authors who are willing to work hard to improve. It leads to a lot of fun and is always stimulating. There was quite a presence from the Yeovil Creative Writers (google Yeovil Writers) who go from strength to strength.

 Before that there was a celebratory reading at The Manor by past and present prize winners of the Yeovil Literary Prize, all of whom are now published. From the left, Kate Kelly, Jackie Gingell and Babs Morton. Kate and Jackie I know well, and Babs had come down from the North East for the occasion and I found myself sitting next to her at the Michael Morpurgo evening. The North East is my family's stamping ground and it was great to chat.
Joining them was this year's winner, Sion Wilson, here on the left,  who has written a cracking novel and we wish him all the best with it. We had several others reading their work, including Chip Tolson who came second in the Stage Play Prize judged by Julian Fellowes some years ago. This was organised by the YCAA with The Octagon Theatre. Later in the day Paddy Ashdown, one of Words for the Wounded's patrons talked about his book on the Cockleshell Heroes. A Brilliant Little Operation.  Read it, it's fascinating.
At the Manor whilst sipping a glass of wine with Shelagh Mazey, author of the successfully self-published Dawn to Deadly Nightshade I spied Steve Haigh, late of BBC Somerset Sound who has decided he doesn't do retirement and is working on The Conduit, a local arts magazine. There were so many authors and everyone fascinating but I missed far too many. It's tricky when you're actually working and you can only dip in from time to time. I will do better next year.

Finally Michael Morpurgo and a trio of singers put on a stirring narration of Private Peaceful on stage at The Octagon. Michael's funny, poignant and ultimately heartbreaking reading - well, acting - of his novel, interspersed by songs from the period was an extraordinary theatrical experience. I can honestly say that it was the most impressive theatre I have seen for many years, and a most satisfying finale to the first Yeovil Festival one could imagine. Of course I cried. I do wish I could do it elegantly but as Babs Morton, sitting next to me, would testify I am a noisy mess.

So, this has just been a taste of the Yeovil Literary Festival, which is to be the first of many. So readers and writers, do come next year. It was a total success and Yeovil is still buzzing. One day, if all you aspiring authors out there keep working, keep writing, keep entering competitions, keep developing your craft you will be one of the speakers, making us laugh, cry and nod in agreement.

Don't forget, Words for the Wounded writing competition will be open for entries on 11 November. WE NEED YOU!  Try your luck, support our wounded, sharpen those pens, flex those typing fingers and rev up your creative imaginations, remember the universal shape, strong characters, living breathing scenes. (Check some of our earlier tips and those below). See you next year at the Yeovil Literary Festival and allow me the privilege of reading your work at Words for the Wounded.

Our next blog will be by our guest Jackie Gingell who will include some of her own writing tips. Make sure you tune in.


Point of View

In my first novel, now called After the Storm and re-issued in August, there are times in scenes when I view the action from more than one person's point of view. Though this is often done in novel writing it is not a good idea because it weakens reader identification and empathy. Try to stay within one person per scene so the reader totally buys in to that one person's experience. For instance.

Annie wondered who this strange man was, reaching for her hand, his face white and sad. Archie looked at her, dear God, I would have passed my own child in the street.  

Here we are seeing the scene from two people's point of view.

It would have been more empathetic to have separated them and stayed with Annie until she had taken the hand, received her father's words. 'Hello Annie. I'm your father.' You would then remain with Annie absorbing her reactions and moving on through the scene to the end. At that point you could have a two line space and go into Archie's scene where we receive his feelings and thoughts on the subject.

This is especially important in a short story in which there is usually only one point of view.

Hope this is helpful.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your message for Words for the Wounded