Review: Penzance Litfest 2014 (Penzance Literary Festival 2014)


Penzance author 1Penzance author 3Penzance author 5Penzance author 6Review: Penzance Litfest 2014

Penzance Litfest 2014 (Penzance Literary Festival) held from 16th to 20th July throughout the town was, for me, a great inspiration. A host of writers  (some pictured here), readers, and people interested in the topics offered massed to hear and see the huge variety of events. As a contributor, I can say this was one of the best organized events I have presented at, for everything was in place and there was always someone at hand to ask directions and provide the biro, paper – whatever you needed.

My aim for attending the Festival was to improve my writing and get over the writer’s block I am suffering while trying to complete a whodunit sequel to my first novel ‘John, Dementia and Me’. I can truthfully say that there were a number of creative writing workshops that I believe have done the trick. I am inspired to write on, although whether the writing I do will be of any quality remains to be seen. After this festival, I am ready to write at length and also ready to ditch most of it when I come to review it. What will it matter? As long as something is written, and who am I to think that everything matters so much? It is far better to write a load of rubbish than to constantly moan about not writing anything at all.

You may, or may not be interested to know of these twenty tips I picked up during the Festival that interested me most:

1. You DO have time to write everyday if you aim to write for only 6 minutes.

2. To give a sense of place, think of describing the effect on the character’s senses: what can they see, hear, smell, touch or taste?

3. If you’re stuck on characterization, try thinking of five things they would have in their pocket.

4. Think of what animal, musical instrument, landscape, city, plant, piece of furniture, clothing, pub. sign or weather your character would be.

5. Be a character actor, read their voices aloud.

6. Write quickly, without checking or changing anything first. Then underline phrases that you like (not as I have always done, underline phrases that I thought need changing.)

7. You need to present yourself as an author well, if you want people to be interested in you and your topic i.e. your books

8. Sometimes, images are more interesting than text for readers of social media.

9. In order to develop your writing, read a lot of other books

10. Write the story you want to write, not one that you think you should write.

11. It’s a good idea to plan. Planning speeds things up.

12. Voice is everything – find the right voice.

13. Write the back story; know the history of your characters.

14. Revise, revise, revise.

15. Don’t send your submission letter out too soon.

16. Don’t give up the day job; it is very difficult to earn anything with your writing these days.

17. To create a good hero, he must have 3 things: a flaw, such as excessive drinking; an endearing quirk such as polishing his glasses, and a trauma that has scarred him/her for life.

18. Your villain should have something in their past that caused them to be the way they are and they should have the ability to be persuasive and seductive

19. To create suspense: have someone not turn up to a specially arranged clandestine meeting or a child not returning home from school,

20. To create tension: have a house that seems to be empty and go through each room noting the details, find something strange in a knickers drawer/ a briefcase or find something has been interfered with: a diary or personal papers.

Highlights of the Penzance Litfest events for me were:

The Bookshop Band –an inspired group of young performers who research books thoroughly – reading them cover to cover and catching hold of one or two key ideas that spring from their understanding of what the book is trying to say. Then they weave these phrases and ideas into charming, almost magical songs. The combination of sounds they use –voice, ukulele, guitar, harmonium and the occasional percussion, along with the subtle changes in harmony give their songs an ethereal, perpetual sound as though they are tapping into centuries of folk lore.

There were a number of presenters whose books I plan to read on Kindle, not necessarily because their presentation was inspiring (although many of them were fascinating), but the books themselves seem interesting:

Tom Vowler: ‘That Dark Remembered Day’

Liz Fenwick : ‘A Cornish Stranger’

Sandra Greaves: ‘The Skull in the Wood’

Angela Stoner: ‘Once in a blue moon’

Tiffany Murray: ‘Happy Accidents’

Kate Lord Brown: ‘The Perfume Garden’

Paul Murphy: ‘As I walked out through Spain in Search of Laurie Lee’

I enjoyed every event I attended and I brought away some new idea from each presentation. I hope there will be another Litfest in Penzance next year and can’t wait to know the dates!

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One Response to “Review: Penzance Litfest 2014 (Penzance Literary Festival 2014)”

  1. M T McGuire Says:

    That’s a great list of points. I like the five things in the pocket one.

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