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Poetry Pointers

August 17th, 2020

First, thanks to Antonio for his humorous post. But behind the humour there’s lots of serious and useful advice; so please think about it and take it to heart if you hope to improve your short fiction.

Next, I’m sorry that I didn’t get a post up last week. Working from home is great but when you get an IT glitch it causes real problems. Hopefully, normal service is now resumed!

The end of July saw the close of our 2020 Poetry Competition – thank you to everyone who entered. We’re currently working through the entries in order to put together our ‘longlist’. As usual, it’s hard work because we had so many great poems. As we’ve been going through them some made us laugh, some made us shed a tear and one or two made us gasp or groan. Read the rest of this entry »




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Back To School

April 24th, 2020

World Book Day was very exciting for me. Through my publisher I was invited to a local primary school in Derbyshire to lead a series of half-hour workshops for all the year groups. I was thrilled by the opportunity as I love running workshops and I have never been part of a World Book Day before!

The first thing I had to consider was updating my DBS Check. Ideally my mind would be at ease if I could have gotten an enhanced DBS which covers everything.  However, as a self-employed writer you can only get a basic check which is £23. You can’t ask yourself some of the questions on more enhanced checks which is why you can’t get one. I have been advised that a basic check is sufficient as usually there is someone on hand to help with the workshop anyway, so that was one less worry! 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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Make Your Ideas Welcome – They’re Your Friends

November 15th, 2019

Forty-odd years ago, our dynamics lecturer wrote an equation on the blackboard. One symbol caught my imagination. That idea, for a novel, complete with cover design, remained with me for about thirty five years.

Years later, I reached the novel writing section of the Writers Bureau Comprehensive Writing Course. The same idea eventually grew into my début novel, Theta Double Dot.

I’m always fascinated by how others garner ideas, so I’d like to share some of my own methods. I should emphasise that these have evolved, as my circumstances and opportunities have altered. Read the rest of this entry »




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