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Could you be the next editor of Chapter and Verse?

May 18th, 2012

First, thanks to Amanda for last week’s blog and the points she made about what you need to bear in mind if you hope to sell your work to newspapers and magazines. Also, a big thank you to Amanda for the work she’s put in as editor of Chapter and Verse over the past few months. If you are a student and would like to follow in her footsteps as editor, please get in touch with me: dianan@writersbureau.com. The job doesn’t take up a lot of time but you do need to be decisive and have an eye for detail. Incidentally, the latest edition of Chapter and Verse is now available in the Student Area.

Also, whether you’re a student, or not, if you currently blog regularly on writing-related topics and feel you’d like to provide a guest blog, I’d love to hear from you with a link to your writing.

Small but perfectly formed

This weekend I read The Hunt – one of the shortlisted entries for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012 (a bit of a mouthful – but then with a prize of £30,000 you can excuse that). It was by Emma Donoghue, author of Room, a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. But I didn’t know that when I was reading the story; I just got to the end and sat back thinking what an impressive piece of work it was. Unfortunately, it didn’t take first place and it looks as though the only way you can read the winner (Kevin Barry’s Beer Trip to Llandudno) and the other shortlisted entries is to buy the winners’ anthology from Waterstones. It’s only £2.99 and if you regularly enter literary competitions it might be worth buying it to find out what judges are looking for in the more prestigious competitions.

Make sure your story is original

And talking about competitions, entries are now coming in for the Writers Bureau Short Story Competition. I take a sneak peek at all of them before they go off to the judge and we do get certain recurring themes. The one that really stands out so far this year is the following:

A motorist breaks down in the middle of nowhere late at night or a hiker gets lost on a misty moor. A stranger materialises out of nowhere and leads them to a welcoming farmhouse/inn (delete as appropriate). The people have old fashioned clothes and speak oddly but this is more than made up for by their hospitality. Made sleepy by their ordeal, the motorist/hiker is shown to a comfortable room but wakes up the following morning in a barn/ruin. When they get back to the convenient local village in daylight and ask about their hosts – surprise, surprise, they find that the people have been dead for the past 100 years.

Can I just say one thing – if you’re contemplating writing a story like this, please don’t. It’s one of those hackneyed plots that make judges groan. Just like the far-fetched ones that end… and then I woke up, it was all a dream.

And my guest blogger next week is Writers Bureau tutor Simon Maginn who will be discussing the perils and pleasures of publishing your first novel.

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