Posts Tagged Writing Magazine
Back in 2011 I wrote a post about Women Only Writing Competitions. At the time they seemed to be a ‘thing’.
Recently two men have independently stumbled across that old post whilst searching for ‘men only’ writing competitions and each left a comment indicating that they don’t think it necessary to have such discriminatory entry requirements. And I agree with them – surely it’s the standard of writing that’s important and not the sex of the writer. Women have come a long way since the days of writers such as the Bronte sisters, who had to hide behind male pseudonyms. I feel we can now compete on equal terms.
Since 2011 other forms of restricted entry have emerged, for example asking for entries only from the LGBT community or from minority ethnic groups or from writers of limited financial means or from particular age groups. I assume that these entry restrictions are imposed because the competition organisers are either looking for stories from these particular viewpoints or the prize is a bursary aimed at those in need or it’s been found that writers from these groups are reluctant to enter open writing competitions. These are all valid reasons for using specific competitions to encourage writing in particular groups.
However, I hope that in the future all writers will feel comfortable entering all competitions, confident that their stories will be judged without prejudice. Meaning that in the future competition organisers (or publishers) might specify if a particular character/story type is required rather than the type of author required. Of course bursaries for those on a limited income should continue to be awarded to those talented writers in the most financial need.
In the meantime here are a few ‘restricted’ competitions, lifted from the pages of this month’s Writing Magazine:
The Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing – for unpublished writers who consider themselves under-represented in nature writing, through gender, class, sexuality, ethnicity, disability or any other circumstance. Closes 10th September 2019.
The Mo Siewcharran Prize – for unpublished UK novelists from a BAME background. Be quick! Closes 29th July 2019 (but will run annually).
Mslexia Fiction and Poetry Competitions – open to women only. Close various dates in September 2019.
Passager Books are seeking submissions of poetry, memoir and short fiction from writers over 50. Closes 15th September 2019.
Last night I and five other short-listed authors were sipping sparkling wine in the rooftop garden of Hachette UK. Also among us were the team from Writing Magazine, several of the authors published by the various imprints of Hachette, editors and literary consultants. Earlier in the day we’d each made a short video interview in the Darwin room (Origin of the Species was one of the first books published by the company). It was all exciting stuff!
The six of us had been shortlisted from 130 entrants in the 2016 Just Write Creative Writing Competition organised in association with Writing Magazine and John Murray Press. The competition asked for short stories of 4,000 to 8,000 words in any genre and on any theme.
In true award ceremony style, the name of the winner was taken from a ‘gold’ envelope and announced to the waiting crowd. Emma J Myatt was the worthy winner and we expect great things from her in the future! There followed lots of chatting to literary people and I got encouraging feedback for an idea I have in mind – something to work on for the future …
We all came away on a high, with goody bags full of books plus copies of the newly-printed anthology containing all six of our shortlisted stories. And we were kept busy signing the anthologies for lots of the other guests to take home – I felt like I was famous as people kept pushing books in front of me to sign!
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?
After all the wonderful advice I got on my previous post about cover design, I thought I’d got things under control in that department. But my attempt at a cover for my third book was so abysmal that I daren’t even show it to you here. Compared with similar books already on Amazon it looked very basic and most definitely amateurish.
I think this is because the book is non-fiction and therefore requires a very business-like cover to get anywhere near competing with the hundreds of other books on the same subject.
So I decided to call in the professionals. I used the website Fiverr. This site features hundreds (or maybe thousands even) of sellers offering their services for just $5. The range of services is vast from personalised greetings cards, translations and bespoke bedtime stories. But there are also lots of e-book cover designers on there too.
I picked one of the top-rated designers (like on EBay, buyers have to leave feedback on the service they received) and told her the title of the book, what it was about and a brief suggestion about the type of image that might be suitable (it is also possible to send the designer a specific photo if you have one that you want to include on the cover).
Two days later my cover design was delivered and you can see it on this post. It’s much better than I could produce. I’ve borrowed the title from a ‘column’ on the Open Writing website which runs an extract from this blog each week (the site includes lots of other writing from around the world, too).
A Writer on Writing is a compilation of 14 of my articles that have appeared in the UK writing press, such as Writing Magazine & Writers News, The New Writer, Writers’ Forum and Freelance Market News. They cover subjects as diverse as generating ideas, writing articles with an anniversary ‘hook’ and flash fiction.
As I did with my other books, I have set an introductory price of 77p – with a view to increasing it when I see how sales go. Setting the perfect price point to encourage buyers without devaluing the work involved in producing a book is very difficult. 77p is the lowest price point available to independent authors.
I’ll keep you posted on how my e-publishing empire is growing (or not as the case may be!).
Eddie Walsh from the sadly defunct Emerald Writing Workshops competitions has refunded entry fees for his competitions that
would have closed later in the year. So now I’ve got £3.60 to use as the entry fee in another contest. So I’ve been looking around to see what there is with a £3 to £4 entry fee and discovered the following selection of short story competitions:
- Monthly ‘Writing Magazine’ Competitions – £3 for subscribers and £4 for non-subscribers but I’m going to give these a miss because, as a subscriber, I can enter the contests in the Writers’ News section of the magazine for free (I’ve unofficially set myself the challenge of entering the WN comp. each month & have managed 3 so far, with th 4th in the pipeline).
- Monthly ‘Writers’ Forum Competitions – £3 for subscribers and £6 for non-subscribers, plus there is the option of paying an additional £5 for a critique. This is a possibility but I know I’ll be tempted by the critique and a total of £8 is a lot for one competition.
- Dickens Bicentenary Writing Competition – £3 per prose piece/£2 per poem. Entries to be inspired by a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Closes 15th August 2012. Not for me – I’ve read very little Dickens so unless I went for Scrooge, I wouldn’t know who to base my hero on.
- The Word Hut 5th Short Story Writing Competition – £4 entry fee with prizes of £50, £25, £10. 1,000 words and an open theme. Closes 16th September 2012. I’ll give this one some thought and have a look through my ‘stock’ of 1,000 word stories.
- Speakeasy Open Creative Writing Competitions – £4 per story/£3 per poem with prizes of £125, £75 and £50 in each category. 2,100 words and an open theme. Closes 31st October 2012. This is another one for me to consider but I might have to write something new to meet the word count – most of my stuff seems to be shorter.
And if you’re looking around for other competitions to enter a good resource (which I’ve used in my searching) is the Writers’ Reign website.
If you’re struggling with a story, agonising over an article or gnashing your teeth about the novel, why not take a short break to recharge your batteries and have a go at some flash fiction instead? Spending a short time playing around with just a few hundred words (or less) will get the brain cells working again, send you back to the magnum opus refreshed and also give you that lovely satisfied feeling that comes from finishing a piece of work and submitting it.
Flash fiction seems to be growing in popularity and here are just a few of the competitions and markets for it:
Flash Fiction World runs quarterly FREE to enter competitions – plus the site contains details of other competitions and helpful advice for the writer.
Emerald Writing Workshops runs quarterly 500 word story competitions with cheap entry fees – I’ve extolled the virtues of Eddie Walsh and his competitions before, so I won’t go on and on again.
Real People Magazine pays £25 each week for a 60 word story – most of which tend to have a twist in the tail.
And don’t forget the ‘Win a Book’ competitions which appear each month in Writing Magazine. They usually ask for around 250 words on a particular theme. I find them great for kick starting the grey matter and for trying a genre I might not otherwise consider – I recently won the ‘Paranormal’ competition and have had a go at ‘Pitching a SitCom’. These competitions are a quick and easy way to step outside your comfort zone.
If you know of any other extremely short fiction markets then let me know – I’m always looking for reasons to deviate from my current project!
The draw has been made and my World Book Night books now have a new home. I will be posting them off to Dorinda Cass in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Dorinda says about herself:
I am about to start the final year of a BA(Hons) degree in Creative Writing at the University of Hull. For the degree I have done all different types of writing including plays, short stories, poetry. Next year I will be concentrating on one of my favourites – either short stories or novel. I am just starting to write with publication in mind. I have been a member of Scarborough Writers’ Circle for five years and, for my sins, I am now the treasurer of the group! We have a website at: http://scarboroughwriterscircle.wordpress.com and anyone interested in writing is welcome to come along.
I hope you enjoy the books, Dorinda!
I also want to give a mention to two fellow bloggers:
- Bev Morley is giving her blog a makeover and is looking for guest book reviewers – so pay her a visit if you’ve read a good book recently.
- I had intended to award Mel Hammond a Versatile Blogger Award but unfortunately she didn’t get my message about it in time for me to include her in my original post. So this is a belated mention for her!
Finally I have a couple of small successes to report (which go some way towards making up for rejections from The Oldie and The Weekly News):
- Star letter in the July edition of Writing Magazine
- Long-listed in the Emerald Writing Workshops ‘Novel Opening Competition’ . I have made the long list of 16 from an original entry of 54. A short list of 6 will be chosen shortly – fingers crossed!
Just wanted to share my good news with you – I was shortlisted to the final judging stage in the Writing Magazine Crime Story Competition. The winning story (and the shortlist) is in the January 2011 issue of the magazine (just out) and the runner-up’s story will be published on the Writing Magazine website.
No prize or publication for me but I was chuffed because it means I’ve learned something from reading the winning entries over the past months:
- The stories that do well in both Writing Magazine and Writers’ News competitions are very strong on character.
- The reader is taken right inside the mind of the protagonist.
- Other characters are few and minor.
- There is often little or no ‘action’ in the story.
Writing Magazine competitions manager, Richard Bell, reinforced this emphasis on character in the magazine’s Competition Special, earlier this year, when he said, “We have seen several excellent stories in which the main character simply undergoes an attitudinal shift; they are shown changing their opinion about something. That is not an earth shattering event, but it can be enough to provide a storyline. “