Posts Tagged ‘Writers’

Tuesdays with Story

The first word . . .

From the beginnings of literature, poets and writers have based their narratives on crossing borders, on wandering, on exile, on encounters beyond the familiar. The stranger is an archetype in epic poetry, in novels. The tension between alienation and assimilation has always been a basic theme.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Tuesday evening. . .

Seven TWS writers attended October 4 meeting.  

Suzanne Gillingham (Kaleidoscope, Chs. 1-2) The characters were interesting and for the most part likable. The first chapters had too much telling and not enough showing with too much info dumping though there were areas that needed more explanation, for example, souls vs emotions. Also needed was a conflict set-up. 

Bob Kralapp (Logical Realities of World)
(Logical Realities of the World, short story) The major observation was that the story felt unfinished, and left the reader with far too many unanswered questions. Judy suggested that the opening paragraph needed to be broken into shorter paragraphs for ease of reading. Amber commented on the tension generated in the concluding scene. Thanks one and all for the excellent comments.

Kashmira Sheth (Journey to Swaraj, Chs 26-27) Over all the comments were positive. John had suggestion to change the last sentence and also take out one trivial sentence. Judy pointed out to one verb that needed to be changed. Judy also asked about theme of the book. Amber said the story was coming of age. Larry suggested defining the word “swaraj” (self-rule) earlier in the story. We also talked about “theme” in general. Bob doesn’t start with a theme, Larry does. I have quotes about theme in this newsletter. Thank you.

Judy Cummings (A Real Hero, Chs. 3-5) In general, everyone liked the character’s voice and felt the plot was moving along well. Larry suggested putting the protagonist’s name and age earlier in the manuscript, along with correcting the use of military salutations.  Amber pointed out some confusion with unclear dialogue tags and John recommended tightening up the language in a few places.  Thanks for the feedback.

Larry F. Sommers ) Lost in the Woods) Larry F. Sommers, “Lost in the Woods”:  Everybody liked the general tone. A couple of “cute” bits in dialog could have been left out. Judy refused to believe that in eight years of marriage Genie had learned nothing of Gus’s personal history. There were some thoughts that the old man, Carl, may have reached out to Gus by letters or by sending woodcarvings.  Otherwise, it’s hard to see Gus’s motivation for re-establishing contact. Thanks for lots of constructive thoughts, everybody.

Presenter for our next meeting on October 18:

Amber Boudreau

Kashmira Sheth

Judy Cummings

Suzanne Gillingham

Please note that we still have two spots open.

The last word . . .On themes from the writing master class.

  1. 1. Put your characters in conflict with one another. Most themes center on controversial ideas that are a source of conflict for human beings. By putting your characters in conflict, you’ll create more opportunities for actions, choices, and conversations that enable them, and your readers, to tackle your theme head on.
  2. 2. Reinforce your theme with motifs. A motif is a recurring image or detail that highlights the central ideas in a story through repetition. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, for example, Gatsby’s constant, lavish parties emphasize the theme of excess, materialism, and the pursuit of the American dream. Use motif to shed additional light on the theme and also give readers a reminder of its existence.
  3. 3. Represent your theme with symbols. Symbols are objects, characters, or settings that are used to represent something else (while, again, supporting the theme). A symbol may appear one time, or be present throughout the story. In The Great Gatsby, a green light symbolizes Gatsby’s dream for a better life with Daisy. In the beginning of the book, he reaches toward it; in the end, it seems unreachable.

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Tuesdays with Story

December 21st, 2021

Joan Didion, December 5, 1934-December 23, 2021

“You get the sense that it’s possible simply to go through life noticing things and writing them down and that this is OK, it’s worth doing. That the seemingly insignificant things that most of us spend our days noticing are really significant, have meaning, and tell us something.” – The Paris Review interview (2006).

Here’s who presented on Tuesday evening

Larry Sommers (Untitled Memoir, chapters 2-3)

Bob noted that I provided artists with all the records mentioned except “Yes! We Have No Bananas.” Amber questioned whether the narrative was well served by using bullet points in a couple of places to list particular memories. Kashmira thought the chapters following Chapter 1 could proceed in a time frame more appropriate to the Air Force narrative of Chapter 1, weaving in flashbacks to earlier times later on. All good thoughts. Thanks, everyone.

John Schneller (Precious Daughter, chapter 27)

Most readers wanted a bit more out of the scene at the mountain precipice. Kotel’s emotional response to his near death moment could match up with a the tempestuous weather. I recognize it is a common weakness in my writing to leave emotions untouched. Kashmira enjoyed the introduction to snow. The grizzlies were popular with all but Jack wanted more taunting. 


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Tuesdays with Story

Meeting notes from Tuesday (of course), December 7

“Collaborative workshops and writers’ peer groups hadn’t been invented when I was young. They’re a wonderful invention. They put the writer into a community of people all working at the same art, the kind of group musicians and painters and dancers have always had.” 
― Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew

Five writers presented their work at Tuesdays meeting. Here are some of the comments they received.

John Schneller

Precious Daughter

Most found the chapter engaging. Amit appreciated the change in tension when storylines jump from Nia to Kotel. Kashmira thought the dialogue should be given prior to the hawk catching the breeze and exiting. Larry noticed that I like to have minds ‘bounce’ a little too often. Thanks for reading.

Bob Kralapp

“Don’t Take It Personally”

Mike wanted to know if there was anything Kenny and the narrator respected about the coach that would make them feel his betrayal in betting on the game. Or if he was just another authority figure. Amber felt that the story read a lot more streamlined than before. She and several others agreed there should be something more at the end that would bring it around and make it feel more finished.


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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
November 23, 2018

At Barnes & Noble Westside

For the second meeting in a row, seven writers gathered in the magic circle. They critiqued the work of seven of their colleagues. Here is some of what was said:

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapter 1, rewrite, untitled novel) . . . Jack would prefer the story open with a wide shot and then had a question about how dark
it was exactly. He also had comments about continuity and breaking up sentences. Jerry thought the story was going to be about the tree. Cindi found the descriptions beautiful, but wondered why they traveled down to the temple and back. Larry and Jack are looking for some symbolic value as they’ve read ahead and know what’s coming. They’re in search of a hook. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
October 19, 2018

They gathered at the bookstore

John Schneller led 11 TWS members gathered in the writers circle through critiques of the works of seven of their colleagues. Here is some of what was shared:

Lisa McDougal (chapter 6, The Tebow Family Secret): There was some confusion about why Adam gave Jessica a Sprite instead of a beer when she asked (under age). It was suggested that the African mask be made less valuable so that it would be more believable that Adam would have it. Also to rework line about camera being new. Tracey recommended I change the lines from the movie because of copy right issue. Larry thought the ending wasn’t subtle enough.

Millie Mader (Short story, rewrite, “Stone Cold Stripper”): My only contribution is that I’m going to do more rewriting. (sigh!!)

Jack Freiburger (chapter 18, A Walk Upon the Water):

Bob Kralapp (short story, part 1, “Capacity”): (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
August 10, 2018

Tuesday eve at ye olde book shoppe

Eight writers came out Tuesday evening to critique the work of six of our colleagues. Here’s some of what was said:

Kashmira Sheth (chapters 4-5a, Surya’s Story): Kashmira submitted more chapters from her MG novel. There were some spelling and word choice concerns that Tracey and Jerry pointed out. Jack wanted some tightening to make sure Surya’s fear and desperation came through. There were discussions about the lemon grass, step-well, python etc. Overall, everyone like the story.

Lisa McDougal (chapter 01, The Tebow Family Secret): Tracey suggested that the intro be told in first person. Bob said that the intro could be told in the 3rd if done more creatively. Jerry questioned if a billionaire would come home and get soda himself. Millie and Tracey gave suggestions on a new name for one of the characters. “Dotty” was the winning name. Larry and Jerry had questions/suggestions about the key code lock for the wine cellar. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
July 20, 2018

In 10 days

It’s Fifth Tuesday!

The Trivedis will host us at their home in Madison, about a five-minute drive from Barnes & Noble Westside.

Yes, it’s a potluck, so bring some great food to share. Vegetarian, please. No meat dishes allowed this time.

And we have a writing challenge: Write a fake book blurb, a nice way to roast a fellow writer. Example: blurb Larry Sommers’ latest book, The Sommers’ System for Writing a Bestselling Novel in 30 Days.

Maximum length: 200 words

Format for your page:
(Title of book)
(Author’s name)
(Publisher and publication date)
(Number of pages)
(Retail price of book)

(Your blurb)
(Your name and at least one writing credit)

When you have your mini-masterpiece finished, email it to Jerry Peterson by Sunday evening, July 29.

Start time for our Fifth Tuesday is our usual 7 p.m. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays With Story
 June 5, 2018

Eight of us gathered around to read and critique each other’s work last Tuesday.

Jack Freiburger read from A Walk upon the Water. Millie noted a character blew his nose twice and Jack admits the Irish are a sentimental bunch. Deb hopes Jack reads the audio version of the book, but he says he can’t do the accents from Maine. Millie wants to know how old one of the characters is. Larry wonders if there’s going to be a golden fleece and thought it was a good read. Deb thought the pacing was fine but wanted a little more detail about a character’s handkerchief. And Larry congratulated Jack on using a word he had to look up. (more…)

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Writer’s Mail

Writer’s Mail
Tuesdays with Story
May 18, 2018

We came out …

Ten TWS writers met Tuesday night to consider six pieces of work.

Mike Austin (prologue, Backroads)

Larry Sommers (chapters 8-9, The Boat Builder’s Daughter)

Kashmira Sheth and Amit Trivedi (chapter 21)

Meg Matenaer (Chapter 1, Write in Time)

Kashima Sheth (Middle grade mystery, first ten pages)

Amber Boudreau (chapter 1, rewrite, Avice)

 Amber read from Chapter One of her new fantasy novel based on a previous work. Larry felt there were three plot points that got lost in the ordinary of everyday tasks. A few people wouldn’t have known it was fantasy if Amber hadn’t mentioned the genre as there is nothing in the first chapter to indicate it as such. Kashmira recommended taking all of this advice and holding onto it until the novel is finished and then rewriting it after.


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Hello world!

CSL016 Welcome to Tuesdays with Story, the new blog for the Madison writers’ group. Tuesdays with Story has two sections, both of which meet at Barnes & Noble Westside in Madison, Wisconsin, one section on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, the other on the second and fourth Tuesdays. We start at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.

Visitors — writers looking for a writers group — are always welcome. We are an eclectic group of novelists, short story writers, poets, children’s writers, memoirists, essayists, and nonfiction writers, so whatever your interest, you’ll fit right in. No membership fees! All you have to do is show up and participate.

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