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Take a Break

April 13th, 2015

Castle.Rigg-blogHow’s the writing going? Sometimes I love that question – not always though. Take the past few weeks. Since early March I’ve been working on a story for the V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize (closing date 22 June.) Putting together the first draft was great, but it ran to 7,500 words and the competition maximum is 4,000 so when I started editing, things got tough. I lived under a little cloud for the best part of a week – ask my wife. Read the rest of this entry »




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Competition Time

March 16th, 2015

Win-blogRight, get your typing fingers ready. The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year. This is a competition open to residents of all Commonwealth countries, it’s for stories of 2,000 – 4,000 words, there’s a £5.00 entrance fee and, as well as publication in Prospect online and the RSL Review, the winner gets a very tasty £1,000. The deadline is 22 June, and with all the talent I know is out there, I’m sure one of you folks must be in with a chance.

I’d have a go myself but, as some of you may remember, I had a bad experience with a short story last year and it’s quite taken the wind out of my sails. I tried working something up for a Writing Magazine ‘adult fairy story’ competition, but ended up missing the deadline with a story that was far too long and which, even now, isn’t in any fit state to show an editor.

So where did I go wrong? Well, right at the start, I didn’t think – just launched into an idea without any proper planning. If I’d taken a couple of days to mull things over, it all could have been very different. In fact, I really should have back-pedaled further than that. Even before thinking things through, what I should have done is gone and found some advice on how to write for competitions. “Do-oh!” How thick can you be, ‘ey? Here’s me blogging for the Writers Bureau, and it didn’t even enter my head to see what our own tutors have to say about it.

Ah well … I’ve had a look now. And do you know what I found? A cracking article by Simon Whaley called Writing Competitions – A Judge Reveals All. It’s been sitting there in the back copies of E-Zee Writer since April 2009 and, honestly, it’s like a little potted masterclass. As well as loads of great tips on how to approach competitions, it explains how to timetable your work over three months to be sure you’re ready and properly edited in good time. If only I’d read it last year … I could be counting my winnings now.

So look, if you fancy having a go at the Royal Society’s short story prize, there’s loads of time to get something together. But don’t make the same mistakes I did. Do yourself a favour and read Simon’s article first, it’ll give you a great head start.

Keep on writing!phil-blog-sig




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Some You Win, Some You Have To Take It On The Chin

November 17th, 2014

magazines-blogA couple of months ago I wrote a blog about how hard it can be, just getting things finished. At the time, I’d spotted a competition in Writing Magazine for an adult fairy story, and I’d decided to enter. The competition was going to be my deadline, but whether I won or lost, the intention was to keep blogging about the story. I was working on the assumption that, if a piece isn’t successful on its first submission, there’s always somewhere else to send it. Read the rest of this entry »




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A Story A Day Keeps Stress Away

November 14th, 2014

GG2014-slider12-blogFirst, thanks to Kim for Last Friday’s blog. After reading her winning entry in our 2014 Short Story Competition I can vouch for the fact that she certainly knows how to sprinkle fairy dust on her own work!

And while we’re on the subject, next Monday marks the start of National Short Story Week. If you visit the website you can read short stories, listen to short stories and it may even inspire you to start writing short stories. Read the rest of this entry »




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Alive and Well – Short Stories on Radio!

October 6th, 2014

Radio-blogI know that on the first Monday of the month I usually provide a link to a YouTube clip that might  be of interest to writers.  But I was browsing yesterday and couldn’t didn’t find anything that really grabbed my attention.

However, over the last week I’ve been listening to the five stories that were shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award 2014. The authors wereTessa Hadley, Francesca Rhydderch, Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith and Rose Tremain. And the winner?  Lionel Shriver with Kilifi Creek.I won’t comment on what I thought about the stories – I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions.

People moan about the demise of the short story – especially on radio. So, if you’re serious about writing short stories, listening to these five is definitely a worthwhile exercise. Not to mention a good excuse to put your feet up and have a cup of coffee!

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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