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Focus On Your Writing

January 23rd, 2020

I’m really happy to be able to announce the winners of our recent Flash Fiction Competition. We had some of the best short fiction that I’ve read for a long time; so the people who were placed should be very proud of themselves. I do hope you’ll read the three winners and I’m just sorry that we haven’t been able to include the best of the rest.

So, congratulations to winner, Susan Kittles, with Moving Day. Second place goes to Jim Goodman with Family Meal and in third place is Ruth Clarke-Irons with Where You Are Sleeping.

Don’t forget our 2020 Fiction Competition is now open for entries! Read the rest of this entry »




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How To Read A Novel

January 14th, 2020

One of the things that I’m sure you hear repeatedly is that if you want to be a writer then you must read, read, read. But why?

You should read – especially contemporary fiction – because it shows you what trends are current, what readers are looking for NOW and so what publishers are searching for.

You should read all fiction – contemporary, classic, experimental – to see how other authors use words, how they put together their plots, twine in sub-plots and how they make their characters realistic. When you read something you enjoy then you can analyse it and use the knowledge you have gained in your own work. When you read a book that doesn’t work for you, then you can try to decide what’s wrong with it and avoid this in your own writing. Read the rest of this entry »




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Whatever Makes You Happy

January 6th, 2020

The very first thing I want to say to you is a rather belated ‘Happy New Year’! I hope that 2020 will be happy, healthy and, of course, good for your writing.

In my last post before we finished for Christmas, I said I’d be considering New Year resolutions, but I’ve actually decided that I’m going to break with tradition and not make any this year. Instead I’m going to try something different.

You’ve probably heard about the idea that each night before you go to sleep you try to think of three things that have happened during the day that made you feel grateful. Well I’m going to try and do something different; each week I’m going to think of three things that make me happy. And I’m going to make them simple things – things that don’t cost a fortune. It’s a way of reminding myself of how good life can be, despite all the pressures we face and the worrying things we see in the news.  I’ve chosen these to start with:  going for a walk on a sunny, windy day; a visit to the seaside when the waves are rough; beans-on-toast when I’m really hungry. Couldn’t be simpler, but just thinking about them puts me in a better mood. Read the rest of this entry »




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Festive Greetings

December 20th, 2019

First, thanks to David for last week’s post. I found the final paragraph particularly interesting and it’s just  how I think of it: “The last line in flash fiction is crucial…it’s akin to the punchline in a joke”.  If there’s one piece of advice that you should bear in mind as you start crafting your stories to enter in competitions next year, then that’s the one!

In the meantime, we’ll soon have the shortlist for our own Flash Fiction Competition available and we’ll be launching our 2020 Short Story (2000 words) Competition before too long.

For those of you who have had success this year (whether you measure that by sales of your writing or the pleasure that your work has given to yourself and others), then there is still time to enter our Student of the Year 2020 award. Check out the details here and we’d love to hear from you if you feel your story would interest and inspire others (come on now, no false modesty!) There is £250 for the overall winner and four runners up will each receive £50. Read the rest of this entry »




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How I Craft Very Short Fiction

December 13th, 2019

What an honour to win a Writers Bureau prize for my very short story, “That Old Familiar Smile”. The Bureau has asked me to write about crafting very short fiction. Suddenly I am an expert?

I like the idea of achieving a complete narrative arc in less than 500 words. Just like a novel, it has to have a beginning, middle and an end but not one word can be wasted.  Here’s how I do it.

It started with a local writing group. When we met, we had three themes, five minutes to think and choose one, then just 20 minutes to write the story. Afterwards we read them out. Sometimes I wrote rubbish and sometimes, something quite good, if a bit rough.  The theme could be a proverb, a song title or a random phrase. Quick thinking produces a first line or, more challengingly, a last line. Read the rest of this entry »




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