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Congratulations To Our Short Story Winners!

May 17th, 2019

First, thanks to Lorraine for last week’s post, which I loved. It was just so positive! It’s advice that I think applies not just to your writing, but to every aspect of life. I know it’s a cliché, but if one door closes… always look for another one that you can get your foot in and push.

It’s so important to try to remain positive whatever life (or your writing) throws at you. Writing can be a lonely profession and it’s important to stay mindful of your mental health. As you can’t fail to have noticed, it has been Mental Health Awareness Week over the past few days. I think we all need our own personal strategy for coping whether it’s meditation, exercise, therapy, or simply being kind to ourselves. Mine is gardening – and it lifts my spirits every time I look at what’s going on in my plot over the changing seasons (see pic of how it’s looking this week).

Moving on, we’ve finally selected the four winners for our Short Story Competition and I’d like to offer my congratulations to all of them. I hope you’ll read them and enjoy them as much as I did – I also hope that you’ll try to work out what made them winners. We’re really proud of the top entries because they are so different in style and content. But the thing that unites them all is the skill and imagination that has gone into writing them. As you can see from my comments on the winner ‘Love Atoll’, I was really impressed.

After applause for the winners, I can’t help but mention the things that got so many stories dropped onto the discard pile. I’ve listed the main ones below and I can assure you that if you are guilty of any of these then the same flaws will probably bias other judges against your work; so please keep them in mind when entering competitions:

Themes that come up time and time again are people suffering from alzheimer’s and elderly people who fade away to join already-dead loved ones. Your story would have to be really original to make it to the shortlist.

This year, probably in tune with the zeitgeist (see above), we had lots of stories where characters committed/were considering suicide or who had mental health issues. You have to remember that if lots of people write about these things then the quality has to be superlative to give yours a chance.

Linked to the above two points, we had fewer humorous stories this year. It’s great when, as a judge, you get something to lighten the reading load. But only attempt humour if you can do it naturally, without forcing it.

And the one that most judges hate… the story where the main protagonist turns out to be a cat or a dog (although the reader has been led to believe it’s a human). You might think you’re writing a twist-in-the-tail story (no pun intended) but it’s usually no surprise for the poor reader.

Finally, this year I lost count of the number of stories where I read “….fingers digging into the palms of his/her hands” to denote worry or stress. If you want to show your character’s frame of mind, please try to find a more original way of doing it.

Lecture over!

Our 2019 Poetry Competition is now accepting entries. There are prizes of £300, £200 and £100 for the three winners and each also receives a Writers Bureau course of their choice. The closing date is 31st July, so if you’re considering entering then you might want to don your bard’s cap, pick up your quill and start penning those verses.

Author: Diana Nadin




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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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