Writing Exercise/Prompt

We here at the Guild try to encourage each other to write whenever possible. To that end we issue prompts once a year. These can be items — I wrote a funny story about demon babies and witches based on a such a prompt (a baby soother) — photographs, snatches of dialogue, or even randomly selected words/phrases. At our March 27th meeting (rescheduled to April 3rd) I offered the following exercise:


Gene Roddenbery, the creator of Star Trek, didn’t start out as a writer. He was a police officer for years before deciding that television was his true calling. Not having a lot of money or free time he couldn’t afford classes in writing so he taught himself using a simple trick — he watched TV. First he would watch with the sound off and try to write dialogue to fit the action. Then he would sit with his back to the TV and write action to the dialogue he heard. In that spirit I ask you to think of a favourite movie and write part of it (the opening, a favourite scene, etc.) in prose. Don’t mention what movie it is and see if we can guess the title just from the brief (500 word) sample. Below is an example I wrote many years ago — it’s a bit rough, but conveys the opening shot of one of my favourite movies (hint: it stars Richard Pryor, John Candy, and Hume Cronin).


The sun gaped like open wound in the sky. Bloated and sickly it hung against the washed out blue background. A blue only matched by overused urinal cakes, with not a porcelain white cloud in sight. What little warmth the gaseous orb shed fell limp upon the mostly yellow, threadbare grass.

That stretch of dying growth, which only a true believer would call an “out-field,” worked hard to make the shitty dirt look magical and inviting. Like every other aspect of the old ballpark, it failed miserably.

Crooked chalk baselines marked the field’s wobbly diamond. The fence, a collection of mostly vertical boards that had been painted years ago with a colour now little more than a memory, threatened to collapse with every stale breath of wind.

There were two dugouts. Twin pits not even fit for an animal. Both moldy. Neither had a working fountain … just rusting pipes that groaned and dinged before releasing a trickle of thick, disgusting slime.

Each dugout was built around a long bench, roughly cut pine, little more than a squared off log. The bench was a place most of the players were intimately familiar with, having spent plenty of time sitting on it – or others like it – throughout their careers. Knots covered its length, explaining why it hadn’t been cut for timber. Small holes marked where various species of insects resided … those that weren’t busy afflicting the players.

Behind the dugouts lurked the fans. A surly lot, more interested in the overpriced beer than the laughably inept action on the field, they jeered the home team and tried to find a comfortable spot in the unforgiving steel and concrete stands. Built to house six thousand, it echoed pathetically with a few hundred in the seats. The public address system screeched like a scalded cat, thankfully failing to convey the announcer’s incoherent ramblings.

All things considered, it was a ballpark worthy of the city of Hakensack.

None of this was noticed by the scrawny figure standing alone by the scared rubber of the uneven mound. Sixty-two feet six inches from home plate, give or take a foot, he was oblivious to his surroundings. Standing in a much-mended uniform, complete with a more pink than red bull rampant on his breast, he existed in his own little world.

Montgomery Brewster was unaware of the curses rising from the half empty stands or the obvious disrepair of the stadium around him. In his mind he was back at Wrigley Field pitching for the Cubs. Living, once again, the high life of The Show.

Family Business by Renny DeGroot – Book Launch

Family Business by Renny Degroot

Family Business by Renny Degroot

Toadhollow Publishing invites you to the launch of Renny deGroot’s debut novel:

Family Business

When: 12th April (2 pm to 5 pm)

Where: Fromagerie Elgin

(5 Cedar St – enter on Elgin)

Please RSVP to:


March 27th Meeting Postponed!

Our regularly scheduled meeting for March 27th has been postponed due to less than favourable weather.

The meeting will be rescheduled as early as next Thursday April 3rd, depending on the availability of the space.

Welcome Sudbury’s new Poet Laureate – Tom Leduc

One of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild own, Tom Leduc, was recently announced as Sudbury’s latest poet laureate. As Sudbury’s the third poet laureate he follows in the footsteps of Roger Nash and Daniel Aubin. Congrats Tom!

Here is the announcement from the city:

Welcome to our new Poet Laureate Tom Leduc

We are happy to share we have a new Poet Laureate, who will be in the position for the next two years. Tom Leduc has been chosen by our selection committee as the successful candidate.

Tom was officially announced to the community on Friday, February 21, at the the Canada Reads Storytelling Festival at the South End Library. CBC host Jason Turnbull interviewed Tom and welcomed him as the new laureate.

Tom works for Wajax Industrial Components by day and has been developing his writing and poetry in his spare time over the past seven years. He started submitting his work to local publishers in recent years and in 2012 won the Vale Living with Lakes Centre poetry contest with his poem “My Northern Lake”. Tom is a member of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild and as a representative of the Guild, performed a collection of poems at Sudbury’s very first Wordstock Festival. He also regularly contributes to the Library’s monthly poetry nights hosted at the Main Library. He is planning, as part of his legacy project for this position, to work with young people in the community and encourage and support children and youth with writing and poetry.

We will be sharing more information soon, including details about when Tom will be available to meet with the public at the Main LIbrary.

Congratulations Tom, we look forward to working with you!

from Greater Sudbury Public Library Website

You can also listen to Tom talk about his background and read his wonderful poem Slag Flower during an interview with the CBC’s Jason Turnbull by clicking the link below.

Tom Leduc interview on CBC Point North

Brian Henry Workshop – March 22nd – Sudbury

Creative writing teacher and editor Brian Henry is returning to Sudbury this spring to give a workshop on How to Make Your Stories Dramatic. Hosted by the Sudbury Writers’s Guild the workshop promises to be a popular one.

From Brian’s website – The Quick Brown Fox

This workshop is geared to both beginners and more experienced writers. We’ll look at the most important part of all stories whether fictional or true: the fully dramatized scene. You’ll learn some of the most successful tricks of the trade to make sure that you’ll never write a lifeless scene again.

We’ll look at both dialogue and action scenes. You’ll learn how to write great dialogue and how to mix it with your narrative so that the interaction between your characters comes alive. But the most difficult scenes of all are climactic action scenes; such as love scenes, chase scenes and fight scenes. Primarily using fight scenes as our examples, you’ll learn how to ramp up the tension you need for one of these high-octane performances.

For more details and to register, please visit the workshop page at Brian’s site – How to Make Your Writing Dramatic workshop, Sat, March 22, in Sudbury

Fee: $38.94 + 13% hst = $44 paid in advance.
or $42.48 + 13% hst = $48 if you wait to pay at the door.

Sudbury Writers’ Guild members get a $4 discount if they register in advance. Fee in advance for Guild members is $40.

Chuck Wendig Workshop – May 10th – Toronto

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig - 1st book in the Miriam Black series.

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig – 1st book in the Miriam Black series.

The Toronto chapter of the Romance Writer’s of America is hosting an all day writing workshop with writer Chuck Wendig on Saturday May 10th in Toronto. - Click here for details -

Chuck who’s not normally associated with romance writing is a prolific and often foul-mouthed writer who gives great writing advice. His blog Terrible Minds gives you a good taste of what he’s about.

He’s written everything from gritty urban fantasies, futuristic Corn Punk tales, to YA novels about dino apocalypses. I’ve read Chuck’s Miriam Black series – Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and Cormorant and love his style. Chuck has also published some great writing advice books are likea two-by-four between the eyes (in a good way). Titles like “250 Things You Should Know About Writing”, “500 Ways to be a Better Writer” and “500 Ways to Tell a Better Story”. His advice will stick with you and I often find his blunt advice exactly what I need to hear to get my but in gear and stop whining about my writing.

Personally, I’ll be trying to move heaven and earth to attend this workshop. If nothing else, I’ll get to meet some other great writers and listen to Chuck swear all day.

Mark Leslie – Guest Speaker

Mark Leslie and sidekick, Barnaby (in tee shirt) talk with SWG vice-president and local radio host Scott Overton

Mark Leslie and sidekick, Barnaby (in tee shirt) talk with SWG vice-president and local radio host Scott Overton

Acclaimed horror writer Mark Leslie (SPOOKY SUDBURY and HAUNTED HAMILTON) attended the November 2013 monthly meeting of the Sudbury Writers’ Guild to “do a talk from a writer’s perspective on EMBRACING ALL OPTIONS – ie, exploring traditional publishing as well as taking advantage of opportunities from platforms like Kobo Writing Life, as well as the other places like Amazon’s KDP, Smashwords, Wattpad, etc.”

His talk was well received and attendees came away with information about a balanced approach to e-publishing, including details regarding print on demand and eBook options. For more information on Mark Leslie’s books visit his website – Mark Leslie | Writer – Editor – Book Nerd. For information regarding his work with Kobo see – Kobo Writing Life.

Author Mark Leslie signs a copy of his new book, SPOOKY SUDBURY, for SWG member Vera Constantinea.

Author Mark Leslie signs a copy of his new book, SPOOKY SUDBURY, for SWG member Vera Constantinea.

Barnaby, sidekick and mascot to author Mark Leslie, holds forum.

Barnaby, sidekick and mascot to author Mark Leslie, holds forum.

Alice Munro wins 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature

The Swedish Academy that administers the Nobel Prize announced on October 10th, 2013 that Alice Munro had won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature for her work as the “master of the contemporary short story”.

Munro, aged 82, is the first Canadian to receive the Nobel Prize for literature and only the 13th woman in the 106 Literature awards that have been handed out.

More information on the Nobel Prize can be found here – http://www.nobelprize.org/

More information on Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize and her career can be found here: CTV News – Nobel Prize for Alice Munro