Posts Tagged RNA

Writing for The Weekly News

On Saturday The Birmingham Chapter of the RNA held a Writers’ Day and I was asked to do a session on short stories. I chose to talk about writing tales with a twist for The Weekly NewsThe Weekly News

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.

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Black Pear Press Short Story Competition and KISHBOO

On Saturday I had lunch with the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

It was a very positive affair with lots of people having good news to share such as excellent reports from the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, publishing deals and competition successes. As always I came away eager to get writing again.

One of our members, romantic comedy author Alison May has been asked to judge a short story competition for the first time and she gave us the details (unfortunately there’ll be no favouritism because it’s all judged anonymously).

The first Black Pear Press Short Story Competition is for stories up to 1500 words in any genre/theme.

First prize is £75 and second prize is two Black Pear Press publications. Entries may be published on the Black Pear Press website and may be included in an anthology.

Closing date is 26th September 2014 and entry is via email. Entry fee is £5.

Full details are here.

Another ‘first’ short story competition that you might like to consider is that currently underway at KISHBOO. This will become a regular quarterly competition with a first prize of £50 and a second prize of £25. The entry fee is £3 and the first competition closes on October 20th 2014. Again any genre/theme is acceptable and the maximum word count is 2,000. The full terms and conditions are here.

Good Luck!

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RNA New Writers’ Scheme

I’ve just come back from a meeting of the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. We get together every three months at the Edwardian Tea Rooms in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for lunch and a chat about writing in general and romance writing in particular.

I joined the RNA at the beginning of 2010 through its New Writers Scheme, which provides unpublished authors with a comprehensive report on a full-length romance novel. The report covers characters, plot and the suitability of the novel for its intended audience. This scheme has a limit of 250 places and opens for applications at the beginning of January each year (but you do have until the end of August to submit your manuscript). The scheme is usually full within a month – so you have to be quick off the mark!

My novel came out of this very badly but nevertheless it was money well spent. The following points came out of the detailed critque:

  • Aim at a readership that you can identify with – it’s hard to write to chick-lit for 20-somethings when you’re old enough to be their mother!
  • Get to know your characters before  you start writing – my heroine had many inconsistencies in the way she acted, leaving it difficult for the reader to care about her at all
  • Work out the plot in detail, again before you start writing, mine had as many holes as a seive 
  • Only include scenes that move the story on otherwise the book becomes dull

Don’t submit to the New Writers’ Scheme if you’re afraid of criticism – parts of my report were quite brutal. Recognise the report you receive for what it is – an attempt to help you become a better writer and that can’t be done without honestly telling you if your novel is bad.

Of course not everyone’s work is as bad as mine! Anne, who I met at lunchtime, was given some useful advice about giving her 1950s heroine more oomph and she is now working to improve her book. About 5% of manuscripts submitted to the scheme are judged worthy of a second reading and may then get sent on to an agent. 

If you decide to submit – Good Luck! and remember, contrary to popular belief romance writing is not easy.

Today’s writing prompt: Easter Egg (not very seasonable now but remember if you’re writing for publication, magazines work several months in advance).

Easter Egg

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