Archive for category Short Story
I’ve rather neglected the short story scene of late – my head has been stuck in the clouds, dreaming of becoming a bestselling novelist!
Last week Mars Hill from Nottingham Writers’ Club kindly sent me an email about the Club’s 2018 competition and I’m sure that some of you more down to earth people will be interested in having a go. My one dismal attempt at the RNA NWS came back with a comment indicating that it was easier to earn money with short stories than novels. So maybe I should get my head out of the clouds and have a go at this.
The prompt for the Nottingham Writers’ Competition is ‘Choose a Season’. It can be any kind of story in any genre, as long as your chosen season plays an important part. Maximum word count is 2,000.
The three main prizes are £200, £100 and £50. There will be five runners up prizes.
Entry fee is £6 online or £5 by post.
Entries can only be submitted between 1st February and 28th February 2018. But that means you need to start planning and writing now!
Visit the Nottingham Writers’ Club website to register your interest and get full details.
Need something to gee you up and encourage the writing muse? Try one (or both!) of these free, themed short story competitions.
Vanda ‘n’ Linda’s Write Space Competition
Vanda Inman and Linda Lewis are looking for 500 word stories inspired by the photo on their website.
First prize is your choice of module from Vanda’s Short Story Success writing course. Second prize is either a critique of a short story of up to 2000 words or a copy of Linda’s book, The Writer’s Treasury Of Ideas (UK only).
Closing date is 31st August.
Words Magazine Short Story Competition
Words Magazine wants up to 2,000 words on the theme of ‘Murder’.
First prize is £50. Second prize is £25.
Closing date is 31st December.
I’ve been busy novelling for the last eight months or so and haven’t had time for competitions. However, a couple have popped into my inbox lately and, since I can’t use them, I thought I’d share them with you lovely people. Fingers crossed, one (or more) of you might have what it takes to be a winner!
Travel Writing Competition run by Travel for Seniors
This is free to enter and offers a first prize of £100 plus internet publication. They want 750 words on the theme ‘Travel for Seniors’ and the closing date is 31st July 2017. Entries can be fact or fiction.
Details are on the Senior Travel Expert website.
The Fiction Desk Newcomer Prize for Short Stories
This is aimed at ‘new and emerging writers who haven’t already been published by us, and have yet to publish a novel or full-length collection of short stories on paper‘. There is an entry fee of £8 and a first prize of £500 and second prize of £250. Closing date is 31st May 2017. Full details are on the Fiction Desk website.
Ever been to Milton Keynes? It’s famous for its concrete cows and the urban myth that it was named after the two economists Milton Friedman and Maynard Keynes. The town’s name actually came from the old village of Milton Keynes which was in the centre of the area designated for development as a ‘new town’ in 1967.
2017 is Milton Keynes’ 50th birthday and, to help the town celebrate its half-centenary, a short story competition has been organised. Hooray!
The competition is asking for stories in any genre but they must be set in Milton Keynes. Maximum number of words is 1050 and the closing date is 21st April 2017.
£100 goes to the winner, £50 to second place and £25 to third place. Fifty of the best stories will be selected for publication in a limited edition anthology.
Entry is FREE and judges include local Milton Keynes authors Carole Matthews, Karen Guyler and Scott Dorward.
Full information is available on Carole Matthew’s website.
And, by the way, Milton Keynes gets a brief mention in my psychological thriller Bedsit Three…
If the 50,000 word marathon of NaNoWriMo is too much for you, have a go at this 50 word story competition organised by Just Write.
It’s free to enter and an open theme but the story must be exactly 50 words – not as easy as it sounds!
There are prizes of books and ‘literary goodies’ plus the winner will be published on tyjustwrite.com.
Closing date is 30th November 2016 and entry is by email or post.
This competition could be a useful exercise in focusing the mind and creating an elevator pitch for your NaNoWriMo work-in-progress.
Also, there was a wordpress glitch when I published my last post and I don’t think notification emails were sent out. In case you missed it, it was 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of Good .
Much is written in the blogosphere and on social media about the diminishing market for women’s magazine stories. I haven’t submitted any womag fiction for a while but am still interested in the area and mentioned it in a talk I gave a couple of weeks ago.
The group I was speaking to consisted mainly of retired, but very active, women. I told them how my writing career had moved through articles, short stories for women’s magazines and on to longer fiction.
At the end, several of them told me how they’d stopped buying some of the magazines when the fiction was replaced by celebrity/real life stories. One lady said that she really enjoyed the Woman’s Weekly Fiction Specials because they were ‘proper stories with a beginning, a middle and an end’ and they gave her something nice to read before she went to sleep at night. Several mentioned that they liked the mix of things in My Weekly.
It makes me wonder whether the magazines that dropped fiction had a noticeable increase in sales afterwards or whether it brought them no obvious benefit. They certainly lost readers from the group I spoke to.
(By the way, if you’re wondering about the significance of the flower photo – this beautiful array of colour was a gift following my talk.)
This week’s post is prompted by a writing acquaintance who was asking for suggestions of websites that have good creative writing prompts.
Creative writing prompts are useful for those times when the ideas just won’t come. Using a prompt focuses the mind and encourages the words onto the paper. It doesn’t matter if the story then goes off at a tangent from the original prompt – the prompt has already done it’s job by starting the process.
There are various sites offering creative writing prompts. Here are a few to get you started:
- Esther Newton often provides prompts and challenges on her blog
- Throughout June 2016 Writing Magazine has been providing a daily prompt
- Creative Writing Now has a page of forty-four short story ideas. They also offer a free e-book of writing ideas.
- Writing Exercises has lots of ‘random generators’ to create plots, first lines and subjects.
Many writing competitions supply a prompt in the form of a subject or theme. These prompts have the added advantages of a ready market to which your story can be submitted and a deadline to work to.
Do you have a favourite way of generating prompts and ideas?
Whilst I was at the Self-Publishing Conference I picked up a complimentary copy of Books Ireland magazine. Inside was the launch of their 2016 short story competition and it has a pretty good first prize: 400 Euros plus a writing course at the Irish Writers Centre plus publication in Books Ireland.
The second prize is 200 Euros and third prize is 100 Euros.
There is no theme, the word limit is 2,600 and the closing date is 31st August 2016. Writers of any nationality may enter. The judge is Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, founder of writing.ie, literary agent and author.
The interesting thing about this competition is that members of writing groups receive half-price entry. The standard entry fee is 10 Euros but members of a writing group (or subscribers to Books Ireland) pay only 5 Euros.
Full details about the competition and where to send your entry are on the competition web page.
May the luck of the Irish be with you!
The official guidelines for The Weekly News are on that treasure trove of information, Womagwriter’s Blog, but here are some of the other points that I made in my presentation:
Research the market. The Weekly News can be hard to get hold of but I find it more readily available in smaller newsagents and convenience stores rather than WH Smith or large supermarkets. Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy for you. Alternatively, stories that have been previously published in The Weekly News can be found in these two e-collections: House Guests and Other Stories and Old Friends.
The twist should come as late as possible in the story and will often turn the tale completely on its head BUT the reader should not be lied to. The story should make complete sense whether read with the twisted ending in mind or the ending that you hope the reader will assume is coming.
Types of Twist
- Character Identity – the small boy nervous about going to school turns out to be the headmaster
- Character Motive – the head juror is pushing for a quick verdict not because he’s in a hurry to get home but because he’s actually committed the crime and therefore wants the defendant sent down ASAP
- Location – the stranded climber is not on a mountain top but is on a climbing frame in the park
Things that (seem to) work for me:
- Having a male main character (both sexes read The Weekly News)
- Aiming at the lower end of the 1200- 1500 required words. These stories pull the wool over the reader’s eyes and the fewer words, the easier that is.
- Keep the time period for the story as short as possible (I’m talking seconds/minutes rather than days) to keep it snappy
I know that a lot of you are successful Weekly News writers and probably have your own personal set of ‘rules’. You might prefer to keep them secret from the competition(!) but if not, do they differ greatly from mine?
Finally a shout-out to some of the people who helped Saturday go with a swing:
Marilyn Rodwell who ably orgainsed the whole day
Bella Osborne who taught us how to plan our novel (and gave us post-its to play with)
Lizzie Lamb who talked about her self-publishing and marketing experiences
Alison May who educated us about editing and said it’s OK to hate your first draft
Helen Barrell who talked about all things social media
and fellow blogger Maria Smith who came and introduced herself to me – lovely to put a face to a name.