Ann MacLaren at Largs – 2nd February

February got off to a good start at LWG with Ann MacLaren’s visit on 2nd to give an excellent talk on Short Story. She is an enthusiast on many aspects of writing, and is not without success in whatever genre she turns her hand to.

Ann sensibly opted to use her notes all the time, rather than speak without them and omit something important. In her talk there was much of importance and specific interest: advice, anecdotes, humour, and giving many examples of these. I liked her frequent reference to graveyards, and their importance for finding local names as well as intriguing stories (real or imagined from inscriptions on stones), as well as historical detail. I am a frequent visitor to graveyards too, and got a poem from an Orkney graveyard, and experienced an embarrassing incident at the dead centre of St Monans in Fife.

Apart from her talk, Ann gave us a workshop which produced some imaginative writings from members in a very short time; and she distributed a handout with advice about the art of short story writing. For example: carry a notebook at all times, watch & listen to people, really look at places which are familiar but taken for granted, read small ads in newspapers and magazines, and agony aunt features. Facebook/Twitter conversations can update our knowledge of how young people talk, and think.

A Short Story Competition was set: the theme is ‘transport’. A story involving the actual transport – plane, buses, taxi, hearse etc – with a maximum of 1500 words, to be handed in on 9th March, for adjudication on 13th April. I’ll leave the last words with Ann: “Give your story a good title. It should sum up what the story is about… Make your reader want to read it.”

Jack

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