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Putting on the Style – September 14th, 2022

What is your chosen writing genre? Are you essentially a poet, a children’s writer, a crime novelist, a writer of romantic fiction? Do you prefer science-fiction and fantasy or are you, perhaps, more comfortable with non-fiction? Prepare to be shaken out of your comfort zone!

In this second session of the new season of Ayr Writers, Nigel asked us to consider to what extent we were aware of how our chosen genre, imposed constraints on our writing style. For example, if you look at the choice of language for children’s fiction and for literary fiction, the difference is immediately clear. Literary fiction can also explore complex themes and suspect morality. In children’s fiction, a simpler theme and a more positive moral outlook is required. Or, when comparing brutally explicit crime fiction or gothic horror with ‘cosy-crime,’ again, the style of writing, setting and mood is dictated by the genre. Only rarely do writers successfully step out of the format (think brutal murder, mayhem and humour. It’s not usually a good mix, unless you happen to be Christopher Brookmyre.)

Our first task of the evening was to create a short piece of writing using the prompt ‘standing in the middle of Ayr High Street.’ The catch was that it had to be written in one of the following styles, according to your allocated number.

  1. Gothic horror
  2. Children’s fiction
  3. Misery memoir
  4. Science-fiction
  5. Political thriller
  6. Landscape poetry
  7. Columnist’s opinion piece

Oh, goodness me – gasps of horror! However, it’s amazing what you can produce, when pushed. Andy, one of our new members, chose to write his columnist’s piece in the style of Jeremy Clarkson. New to the area, he chose instead to use Kirkintilloch and poke fun at its doubtful claim to be ‘The canal capital of Scotland.’ He made use of some wag’s alteration of ‘canal’ to ‘banal’ and then even left off the first letter entirely. A very entertaining piece.

Another new member, Thomas, gave is an excellent prose poetry piece, which was well received. Nigel’s misery memoir was Ayr High Street seen through the eyes of his wife, who hankered after the late 1960s, when Ayr was a favourite holiday destination and there was no such thing as an empty shop.

My gothic horror contribution featured a traffic accident of a bygone era, where a distraught lady stands in the way of an oncoming carriage. Strangely after the accident, all that is found is a bundle of purple silk – no body.

After the break, we launched into another exercise with a new number and a new prompt – this time, we are standing on top of Ailsa Craig. Again, the pieces showed club members’ seemingly effortless ability to leap from one genre to another.

Maggie M was a disgruntled reporter, dumped, unwillingly, on top of Ailsa Craig.  Linda had Boris hiding there with stolen, top-secret documents. No one would find him there! (Would they bother to look?) Nigel’s piece was a disgruntled child being reluctantly dragged up there by an enthusiastic parent. Carey substituted Ben Lomond for Ailsa Craig and drew on past experience of failing to feel the buzz of achievement she was assured would be worth the effort of the climb. Linda B’s was a brilliant mix of misery memoir and poem (I hope I haven’t missed anyone – apologies if I have.)

To round off the evening, Nigel gave us a few bullet point reminders about writing a book review. That is the first competition of this season, due on 28th September.

Remember to include all the author and publishing details including ISBN, publication date, price, pagination and format (hardback or paperback)

  • It’s not a blurb, synopsis or précis of the story, so no spoilers please
  • Relevant information about the author (First novel? Not in the usual style? For non-fiction, are they appropriately qualified to write on this subject?)
  • Intended readership
  • Plot (Believable? Keeps you guessing?)
  • Language
  • Use quotes with discretion

And, as ever, show, don’t tell!

So, over to you. Get reading and get writing.

Maggie Bolton

2 thoughts on “Putting on the Style – September 14th, 2022”

  1. What a good evening that must have been. I’ve enjoyed reading about all the creative responses to the tasks. Just getting the wrapping though, not the content – wish I could have been there.
    Many thanks for the Blog.

  2. Choosing writing genre is the main part when you start to write, Because your genre will be conducting your writing career through out in future !

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