1. Be a Member – Make sure you are a member of the meetup group Meetup   so that you can be added as a host.
  2. Decide your topic.  Is it Genre-based writing (Mystery, Young Adult), or are you focussing on a writing technique.  You do not need to consider yourself good at a topic to host a session on that topic. It could be that you want to learn the topic yourself, or are interested in the topic.
  3. Tips and Tricks: List down tips and tricks to write on the subject.  Use Google, but try to research the topic on more than one site.
  4. Examples: Ensure that you give a few examples. Examples serve a dual purpose.  They teach as well as inspire. It also triggers a few discussions and questions, which in turn sets the creative juices flowing. Make someone read the example, and discuss its relevance to the subject at hand.
  5. Prompts: This is all important.  Try not to miss this. In the limited time that you have, writers will thank you for prompts that get the person thinking. There is definitely a section of writers who ignore everything else, and just read the prompts.  That is not a directive to skimp on the rest of the material. I personally prefer not to use the prompts.
  6. Additional References: This helps writers to go back and research a topic even after the session.
  7. Personal Information: I like to give links to my blog or provide my gmail address, so that people can get back to me with pieces that they could not complete during the session.
  8. Feedback: Encourage the crowd to give feedback.  Tell the crowd to give feedback, and focus both on the positive and constructive, in a tone that ensures that the reader does not feel cornered or bullied.  Ensure that at least some of the regulars are involved in giving feedback, and you, as a host, can take a firm stand on this. As a host, you must listen to the reader, and give some kind of personal feedback. Say something more specific, like “I liked how you started of the piece. It gripped me and made me listen,” than just saying “It was nice, I liked it.”  Even if it is a particularly bad piece, there should be something that you liked that you can point out, before launching into constructive feedback.
  9. How many exercises: One, two or three?  The more the number of exercises, the greater chance to experiment, and lesser time to write per exercise.  The lesser number of exercises, means giant pieces and more people to read. Both have pros and cons. So it’s your call, and time management skills are necessary if you go for more than one exercise.
  10. Newcomers: As a host, come in at 2:00 and engage the newcomers. Ask why they are here, what they want from the meetup, why they are interested in writing/write club. Some are just here for the fun of a meetup, but there are some that are serious about writing too.  Even after the session, ensure that newcomers (especially the serious ones) are integrated into the conversation, and not left out of the “groups”.
  11. Mentor/Helper: Take the help of one of the regulars to get your content okayed. They can tell you if your topic has been recently repeated, or if your material is complete and coherent.  The helper can also add points before and during the session, and help in giving feedback, or assist in any activity that you require help on.
  12. Writing or Listening: You will notice that during a session, a lot of people are still writing.  Ensure that the majority of the crowd is listening, so that the reader gets the crowd’s attention completely. There must be a general understanding that we must listen to the person and not do our own thing.
  13. Share your material – Send it to amelabrs@gmail. com with a summary of how the event went so that I can update the blog.

 

—–SAMPLE MATERIAL FOR REFERENCE—

 

Topic: Magic Realism

 

#Sample

 

I felt the woman’s tongue entering my mouth. Warm and soft, it probed every crevice and wound around my own tongue. The heavy smell of flower petals stroked the walls of my lungs. Down in my loins, I felt a dull need to come. Clamping my eyes closed, I fought it. A moment later, I felt a kind of intense heat on my right cheek. It was an odd sensation. I felt no pain, only the awareness of heat. I couldn’t tell whether the heat was coming from the outside or boiling up inside me. Soon everything was gone: the woman’s tongue, the smell of flowers, the need to come, the heat on my cheek. And I passed through the wall. When I opened my eyes I was on the other side of the wall – at the bottom of a deep well.

(The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, Book Two, 247)

 

#Tips and Tricks

  1. Sell it with a straight face
    1. Having a centaur baby may not be normal, but its totally possible
    2. Prose is not littered with apologetic phrases like “It was really weird and abnormal, but they had this centaur baby, or, something seemed really off to (insert main character’s name) because that’s not what life is normally like”
    3. You are the authority of this world, so lay down the rules of it, so that the reader can relax into the narrative.
    4. Try to lay down the magical rules at the earliest.
    5. There can still be odd things in this world too, which can create conflict. “He had found the missing stone of gobbledygook. No one would believe him. They all thought it was destroyed by the great tribe of Mungadoo. ”
  2. Decide where the real stops and where the magic begins
    1. In this story, only magical element is the baby centaur.  The rest of the story talks about the being, inner struggles, retrieving the runaway baby, relationship drama, and the whole gamut of family stressors. If you changed the child from being a centaur to a child with a developmental or physical disability, the story would still flow beautifully.
    2. No random pieces of magic cropping up.
    3. Does not mean that you cannot use more magic than the author has.
    4. Explore the Real World through magic

 

#Prompts

 

1) Your best friend left a heavy box with you and told you not to open it. You resist the temptation, until the box begins buzzing…

2) You saw your neighbor digging a hole in his backyard. Next day his wife goes missing…

3) You have taken an STD test after an ill advised fling, you are at the hospital reception waiting for the results…

4) You are in a bathroom and have just taken a home pregnancy test, the result is…

5) Among your mother’s old belongings you find a stack of love letters to a man, but he is not your father…(or vice versa)

6) You have just joined a group of friends, they ominously keep referring to “what happened at New year’s…” what did happen?

7) John is the freshly appointed butler to the filthy rich Briarwood’s, he has to take care of the whole mansion except for the master bedroom on the first floor, which is always locked…

8)  You have just gotten engaged to the love of your life, a RAW agent approaches you and tells you he/she is not who you think they are, RAW agent offers you an opportunity to catch them and serve your country…

9) You stand in front of the mirror of Erised, you see…

10) You are sleeping alone at home, you wake up in the night to find that the basement door is open.

11) You visit your grandmother to pay your last respects, she calls you close and whispers, “they poisoned me…”and passes away.

12) You are at the airport to receive your childhood sweetheart whom you have not met for more than ten years…

13) You are out having dinner with your spouse, a small girl sees your spouse and starts creating a scene saying your spouse is the one who killed her mother.

14) Your spouse has been aloof and spending more time away form home…one day you follow him/her…to a cemetery.

15) You are a devout follower of Baba Kamdev and have finally been granted a personal darshan, you are waiting in his room, Baba walks in and closes the door.

16) You are at the airport, your luggage sets off an alarm, the officers see the x-ray of your luggage and pull out their guns, they open your luggage, there is a…

17) You finally get some privacy with your crush, as you kiss he/she/it falls down and stops breathing.

18) Last ball of the match, Indian cricket team needs 6 runs to win…

19) You are cheating in a competitive exam with cheat sheets hidden in your shirt, your friend asks for one and you pass it, the examiner seems to have noticed and is coming towards you.

20) You gave your laptop to your friend/sibling and they have forgotten to clear their browsing history, do you check it? What do you find?

21) You are on a skype call with your friend, you see the door open behind them and a masked stranger enters the room…

22) You have been offered a promotion, but you can avail it only if you fire your friend.

23) You have been receiving flowers from a secret admirer who seems to know your every move, you next receive a human ear in the mail, it has a label that says “You’re next!”

24) You wake up from a drunken night of partying to find a bomb besides you, and it shows ten minutes and is ticking down.

25) You are part of an evil experiment, if you push button A 10 innocent adults die, if you push button B 5 juvenile criminals die, if you don’t push a button everyone including you dies, you have 5 minutes to make a choice.

 

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