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In Praise of Competitions…

February 16th, 2018

In summer last year I chanced upon a short story competition and decided to enter. I hadn’t even appreciated that such things existed.

I didn’t win. In fact, I heard nothing back from the organisers, save for an acknowledgment of receipt. But I enjoyed the experience; it piqued my interest, and I searched for more.

Before long, I had a list of potentials and aimed to come up with entries for each. These were stories that I would never have written were it not for the spur of the contests. Read the rest of this entry »




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Don’t Ignore The Small Press Magazines

March 17th, 2017

First, thanks to Julia for last week’s blog. After reading it, and the very polished entry that she submitted to the recent AFW poetry competition, I think she should stop being tempted to say ‘poetry isn’t really my thing’ – it most definitely is!

However, I definitely know what my thing is, and I’m not sure I should be boasting about it: collecting snippets of useless (but, in my defense, interesting) information. I recently read an article about Milton and Paradise Lost. Apparently, it’s been estimated that he introduced 630 new words into the English Language (Will Shakespeare was a laggard by comparison with only 229). Examples include pandemonium, fragrance, didactic, stunning, impassive, debauchery, self-delusion and terrific. Read the rest of this entry »




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Short Story Extremes

February 17th, 2017

people's-friend-bloggyFirst, thanks to Mary for last week’s blog. It really is important that you proof your work thoroughly before you send it out to an editor or a publisher. If you’ve not bothered to correct silly typing mistakes then they might wonder just how carefully you’ve checked your facts. I’ve done a lot of proofreading in my time and I actually find it quite enjoyable. If you’re interested in knowing more about what’s involved – either to check your own work, or to take it up as a freelance career – then you might want to consider our Proofreading and Copy Editing Course.

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, our 2017 Short Story Competition is now open for entries until 31st March. If you’re thinking about sending in your work, why not have a look at how some of the modern masters write their stories. Every year the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Competition is held with a prize of £30,000. As you can imagine, with prize money at that level, the standard of entries is pretty high. Read the rest of this entry »




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Robots Writing

January 12th, 2017

what-is-the-what-blogAs I write this, I’m watching the snow come down, settle and then melt away. It’s a very half-hearted attempt! But it’s certainly miserable for anyone out in it and it’s times like this that tempt even the most industrious writer to have a ‘duvet day’.

My advice is: don’t fight it. The odd day’s loss of production can soon be made up and it’s the ideal time to curl up and have a good read. Most successful authors agree that if you don’t read, you’ll never by a competent writer. Stephen King is quoted as saying: If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Read the rest of this entry »




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Literary Summer Breaks

July 7th, 2016

buxton-blogMost people are familiar with the Costa Book Awards but since 2012 they’ve also been doing a Short Story Award.

In order to choose the winner, the public votes for six shortlisted stories that have been chosen by the five judges. You can download and listen to, or read, all the shortlisted stories at the appropriate time. I’m quite looking forward to this stage, as the shortlisted entries are invariably of a high standard and you can learn a lot from the way they are crafted. It also gives you a clue as to what the public enjoys and you might want to take this into account when you’re putting together your own entries for future competitions. Read the rest of this entry »




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