Do you ever finish a job and think: ‘Ooof – that was hard?’ I do it all the time, most recently with a story I (eventually) entered for the Aeon Award just last week. As some of you may remember, I started The Little People for a competition in Writing Magazine way back in September last year, but when the first draft came in way over the word count, I had to find a plan B, and this was it. Read the rest of this entry »
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You 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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Right, 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 The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year.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!
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Why is a carefully worked out plot both necessary and popular in any short story or novel? My contention is that the answer to this question is quite simply that the progression of a plot in a story follows or reflects a similar pattern to the development of the main events in almost everyone’s life. Subconsciously we are attuned to be interested in plots – and perhaps need them.
Let us take what is probably the most common and familiar plot in fiction from crime stories, romances, adventure stories and even literary stories. In these stories there is invariably a main character (a protagonist) who has some aim to fulfil, some crime to solve, a partner to find, success to achieve, a battle to win – and so on. To make the story interesting, obstacles must be put in the way of the protagonist. He or she must struggle to be successful in whatever the enterprise is. Suspense must be created as the reader wonders how the obstacles will be overcome. The protagonist is likely to be in conflict with others who may wish to prevent his or her success. There will be setbacks and the final one (the climax) will be especially dramatic. Assuming that the protagonist is successful in whatever the enterprise was, the ending of the story will be happy. If failure occurs, then we have a tragedy. Some stories end more neutrally. Read the rest of this entry »
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First, thanks to Rebecca for last Friday’s blog post. It certainly demonstrates that ‘writing about what you know’ needn’t limit you in any way if you don’t take it too literally.
We’ve now come to the end of our 2014 Flash Fiction competition. As usual, we had a great response and we’ll do our best to get the results out to you and the winning stories on our website early in the New Year. We’ll also be launching our next competition but you’ll have to wait a little longer to find out which genre we’ve chosen. Read the rest of this entry »
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