The unenviable task of following Tony's entertaining entry about last week's meeting and the Local Author's Fayre has fallen to me.
This week it was Linda's turn to submit a chapter of her novel A Head Full of Budgerigars to the unforgiving scrutiny of the Severn Valley Authors. Entitled 'Tiger! Tiger!' the chapter dealt with a visit to America by Lily's cantankerous mother. As usual, Linda's writing was full of some wonderful imagery and descriptive phrases but we agreed that the two pages describing Lily's husband and the town in which they lived might better be reserved for use in a separate chapter.
I felt that she could make more use of dialogue and direct speech as a means to describe and develop her characters and illustrate the conflict between them. Dialogue (written as opposed to spoken) is an area in which Linda lacks confidence, but expertise will come with practice.
Changes in a recurring nightmare about a tiger that eventually lost its power to terrify were skilfully used to symbolise the shift in Lily's relationship with her mother during the holiday. Rob stated that the chapter was very evocative of time, place and people. We discussed the classic story line of 'opening, build up, climax and resolution'. Rob, who had fully recovered from the horrid life-threatening disease that afflicted him last week and is reading Lynn Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves, is particularly hot on punctuation at the moment. He pointed out that a comma was needed between 'fat' and 'pink' in 'a fat pink tongue'.
We it came to the use of italics, however, we were obliged to consult The Oxford Guide to Style. Then we argued amically about the appropriate position of the apostrophe in possessives ending in s: "Ed Ricketts' House" or "Ed Ricketts's House"? 'Use 's after non-classical or non-classicizing personal names ending an s or z sound,' states The Oxford Guide to Style. Nevertheless it goes on to state in a more conciliatory tone: 'Convention allows latitude in possessives (e.g. the additional s is used more in speech than in writing).'
Thank God for that. I'm all for latitude - particularly when it comes to speed limits and the drivers' hours regulations.