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Competition Crazy!

May 8th, 2015

DSC00644.blogI’ve always been competition crazy – well, for short story competitions anyway. I entered one in my teens and was fortunate enough to win, but it took years before I had my next award. Yet, there’s that something special about them and this compelled me to keep writing and to keep entering. So, exactly what is the attraction of writing competitions and are they worth entering?

Writing competitions are great fun to enter. They offer more scope for experimentation and in many cases, you don’t have to stick to the boundaries enforced by writing for particular markets such as the women’s weeklies. Read the rest of this entry »




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A Writer’s Gold Mine

April 27th, 2015

ChrisFielden-blogYou won’t believe this story, but I’ll tell it anyway because I’m seeing Sally tonight, and that’ll be hard. So, if I try it on you first, I might just get things straight enough in my head to tell her. And then maybe … well … y’know.

Anyway, here it is. 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 The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year.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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Editors Aren’t Always Perfect

January 30th, 2015

writer.com-blogFirst, thanks to Colin for last Friday’s blog. You often hear people who are ‘sniffy’ about genre fiction saying it’s plot driven, whereas literary fiction (usually their preferred reading/writing matter) is character driven. It’s OK for a book or story to be character driven but if those characters don’t provide some forward movement or development (a plot?!) then the reader loses interest pretty fast. Read the rest of this entry »




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Are You a Highlighter?

November 28th, 2014

pray-blog (2)First, thanks to Esther for last Friday’s post. We wish her well with sales of The Siege!

I was out Christmas shopping last weekend and made a donation to The Salvation Army. In return I was given  a copy of The War Cry. Glancing  through it when I got home I saw an article on e-readers and highlights that people make when they’re reading a novel. This got me thinking.

The short article was very cleverly targeted, starting off with a subject that might interest anyone, not just a religious person. It looked at how many times the opening passage from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had been highlighted – to date 4491! And just in case anyone could have forgotten it: Read the rest of this entry »




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