I'm not quite sure why people want my opinion on their work but, if they write in a genre I feel comfortable commenting on, I do what I can to help. It is sort of interesting that almost every fledgling fiction writer seems to make the same three faux pas in their first draft. I think I give the same three pieces of advice to all of them:
Rewrite the “speeches”. People don't talk that way (unless you are writing about politicians). Break up the flow of information and write dialog, not monologue.
Listen to how people talk. They don't use each others' names with every sentence. In fact they rarely use each others' names at all. And they often do not speak in whole sentences. Train your ear to hear.
Always advance the story. You may find it interesting that Fred the Car Mechanic once climbed Mount Kilimanjaro but if it is not germane to the story, why bring it up?
If a writer can accept those pieces of advice and take them to heart, he will be off to a better start than most beginning fiction writers. But even if they don't it is hard to live in Gloucester and not succumb to the urge to create. This community has long been famous for its art community but if anyone took the time to count up the writers who have emerged from this town I am betting there would be as many. T.S. Eliot and Rudyard Kipling came to Gloucester for inspiration. You can't get much better than that.
For several years we had a writer's group that met monthly at Hovey House. It was a good group but eventually it disbanded for the simple reason that most of us didn't have enough time to write as it was and meeting was just one more time in which we were not writing. Lately I have been thinking about trying to get another writing group together but this time I want to focus on fiction writing. I have respect for all kinds of writing but it is my belief that fiction writers have their own unique needs and imperatives and benefit best from meeting with others struggling with the same things.
In the Hovey House Group we had everything: poets, how-to manuals, memoirists, political writers, playwrites.... it was an interesting group. I don't know how many of those people have actually produced a complete manuscript at this stage. I know Jane Daniel's Bestseller! Is now on Amazon but that is the only one I know of for sure.
I have this growing suspicion that if you live in Gloucester for any length of time you have to eventually write about Gloucester. I know Gloucester has served as the setting for a few of my stories lately. Sailor's Valentine, which is available as an e-story through Heart Throb Books, is one of these. It is the story of a woman who comes to a small fishing town and falls in love with a cranky, difficult but irresistible fisherman. And when I was invited to write a bit of romantica to Ravenous Romance's Green Anthology I couldn't resist writing Gone Fishing about a Gloucester fisherman and his contentious and ultimately erotic encounter with a journalist writing for an environmental magazine. So far the feedback on that one has been fun.
So writing in Gloucester seems unavoidable. Writing well is, of course, the goal and one that many here obviously attain. One of my Writing Rules is “Respect the reader's intelligence.” When you write about Gloucester you have a lot to work with there.
Thanks for reading.