The Manchester Speculative Fiction Writing Group is a year old

A Year of Writing Speculatively

My regular monthly writing group The Manchester Speculative Fiction Writing Group is now a year old.

We had our 1 year birthday celebration last week where Guy Garrud attempt to kill us all with a sugar-loaded Guinness Cake. It was fabulous.

Held at MadLab on Edge Street, Mcr, the group has changed and shifted a lot in a year. There is a core number of folk regularly attending, some others who came and went and newbies who are currently testing the waters.

Under our wide umbrella of ‘Speculative’ fiction we’ve had cyberpunk, steampunk, straight sci-fi, fantasy, horror, post-apocalypse, mythology, far future, near future, alternative worlds, superheroes, ghosts, werewolves, were-elephants, Dr. Who fan fiction, fairies, afterlives, spaceships, GEVs, impossible cities, zombies, vampires, future Manchester, past Manchester, and fiction based on dreams.

And much much more, of course. That’s the beauty of speculative fiction – you’re not hemmed in by the real world, but nor is the real world completely closed off. Almost literally, anything goes.

This is the one and only writing group I attend, although some of our members have been to others. Based on reports, I think we’ve got a good system going. We read all submissions in advance via Dropbox and bring a full and (often brutally) honest critque. Other places seem to prefer people reading their work out on the night and then offering a gut reaction. I think this method has some advantages, but it bypasses some of the nitty gritty of writing that we are really good at nailing; ie grammar, spelling, syntax and formatting. I’ve really learnt a lot about these things.

Its also a great insight to see how other writers write. Each of our regular attendees has their own style, their own quirks, their own agendas and, often, their own common mishaps. Having five or six other folk who have a knowledge of your style is like having extra autonomous parts of your brain saying ‘i think this is what you meant.’ For a fledgling writer, this is extremely useful.

I have had loads of pieces critted there. Many of the best ones are pending a rewrite soon and I’m really looking forward to wading back in.

If you fancy joining us, all the information is here on the website. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Sci-fi and its offshoots are the in genre at the moment it seems. There’s been a lot of activity on the Grauniad of late to do with sci-fi, thanks in large part to this guy, whose latest book I’m currently reading. If you are trying to squeeze into this expansive and beguiling field, nows the time. And if you are Manchester-based, this is the group for you.

Come along, we don’t bite. Well Guy does. A bit.

Written by Dave Hartley

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