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Water-powered Writing

June 17th, 2021

Everyone knows how powerful water can be. We’ve all seen footage of waves crashing against a sea wall and of flash floods causing danger to life. But have you considered how water can be a power for good in your writing?

Writers from Shakespeare through Wordsworth and Virginia Woolf to more modern authors such as Neil Gaiman have been inspired by water in its many forms.

I often visit a local reservoir in my trusty campervan, Vincent – given my surname, my van couldn’t be called anything else! A walk along the lake shore can be peaceful or, on a blustery winter’s day, exhilarating. Yet, whatever the weather, I always come away with something useful for my writing, whether it’s the first draft of a poem, the outline of a short story or just the solution to a plot hole in my current work-in-progress. Read the rest of this entry »

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Genre Versus Literary Fiction

June 9th, 2021

You often hear the word ‘genre’ bandied about in writing – but what exactly does it mean? The dictionary defines it as ‘a style or category of art, music or literature’.

So, we have detective stories, thrillers, romance, historical novels, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, erotica… Each of these different genres has its own conventions. Loner detective with drink/hostile partner problem; Eastern European drugs/arms/people smugglers; dungeons and dragons; haunted houses…  You will probably find yourself wanting to write in one of these genres if you enjoy reading that type of story and feel you can bring something new to the conventions that faithful readers expect.

But what is the difference between genre fiction and literary fiction (the kind of story that wins the Booker Prize)? Read the rest of this entry »

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Short Story Competition Winners Announced

June 2nd, 2021

First, thanks to Savannah for last week’s post. She provided some interesting suggestions on how you might improve your short stories. It’s quite easy to get stuck in a rut when writing and it’s good to try out new ideas and approaches. There’s usually more than one way of writing a story and it pays to experiment until you find what works best for you and, of course, your reader.

Sorry about the delay in announcing the winners of our 2021 Short Story Competition. If you haven’t already discovered them on our website, here they are! In first place is Bob Thurber (see photo) with Thanksgiving 2010; in second place Ellen Evers with The Goodbye Visit; in third place Pamela Gough with Cake for a Wake and in fourth place Ruth Clarke-Irons with Cross My Heart. Congratulations to all of them and I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading their work.

When the competition was held last year we’d gone into the first lockdown but the weather was good, people were feeling ‘creative’ and were striving to keep their spirits up. No one knew how long things would drag on – and the entries, on the whole, were very similar to those submitted for previous competitions. This year, things were very different and the themes that people chose seemed to reflect this – they were much darker and less optimistic. It had been a long hard winter, people were missing loved ones and there seemed no end in sight. That’s why Bob’s light-hearted, humorous story made it stand out from so many of the others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three Unusual Techniques To Try In Your Short Stories

May 25th, 2021

Savannah CordovaI’ve helped judge Reedsy’s weekly short story contest for nearly three years now, and it’s honestly been one of the most creatively fruitful experiences of my life. I’m a short fiction writer myself, and reading thousands of stories has helped me realize what actually goes into a good one — rather than what you think is good, but is really just self-indulgent or overdone.

Diana’s post on making sure your competition entries are original provides some excellent guidance on what to avoid in your stories. But today I want to talk about a few elements you might try experimenting with for greater success, along with some past Reedsy winners as examples! Though all these techniques take practice to pull off, once you’ve nailed them, you’re sure to grab a contest judge’s attention.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Block-v-Indented Paragraphs

May 11th, 2021

There are two paragraphing styles that you need to be aware of – block and indented – and many new writers wonder about which they should use.

Block paragraphing has a blank line separating the last line of the previous paragraph and the first line of the new paragraph. Each paragraph is a block of text on the page, with white space all around it. The first line of each paragraph is left-justified which means it is not indented. This blog uses block paragraphs!

Indented paragraphing does not have a blank line between each paragraph. Instead, you start the first line of each paragraph about five or six spaces from the left hand margin of your page.  Read the rest of this entry »

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