© Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Iain Pattison One of the Circle’s highlights each year is to run a competition in which we get an external judge to decide the winners and to provide a critique for each entry. Iain, we are delighted to say, continues to support us by being the person who takes on this onerous task. Iain is a full-time author, creative writing tutor and competition judge. His short stories have appeared in numerous women’s magazines, UK and US anthologies, and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. To give participants an idea of what Iain likes, here are a couple of quotes from an interview he did for The Word Hut web site.
How would you describe your writing style? Quirky and zany (if people still say things like zany) with a drop of satire thrown in. I try to make my stories Spartan, fast paced and exciting while machine gunning as many gags as possible. I love twist endings and always aim for an emotional response from my readers – even if it’s only a loud groan. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their writing? The late Terry Pratchett. He was a god and I worship his memory. Some people sneeringly dismiss his Discworld books as being simply fantasy or comedy, but he had a spookily insightful understanding of how people really think and act, both as individuals and groups. He said more about the human condition in one chapter than Dickens did in all his works … and got more laughs.
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Iain’s Tips These are some of the tips that we’ve picked up from Iain’s critiques in past competitions. They’re tips, not rules, so they are flexible and open to interpretation. Hopefully, they will help you to avoid the worst of Iain’s “buts”.

It’s a short story competition…

…so try to avoid memoirs, monologues, poems etc. Have a plot with jeopardy, dialogue, a chain of events leading to a conclusion, hopefully unexpected.

Watch the word count

Keep your writing tight, don’t waste words - especially when writing humour.

Lights, Camera, ACTION

Don’t spend half the word count setting the scene. Get into the action as soon as possible.

Maintain the pace

Try to avoid interrupting the story flow with information dumps or back story. If the reader needs information, keep it brief and relevant. And don’t cheat by having characters tell each other information that they would already know.
© Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Iain Pattison One of the Circle’s highlights each year is to run a competition in which we get an external judge to decide the winners and to provide a critique for each entry. Iain, we are delighted to say, continues to support us by being the person who takes on this onerous task. Iain is a full-time author, creative writing tutor and competition judge. His short stories have appeared in numerous women’s magazines, UK and US anthologies, and been broadcast on BBC Radio 4. To give participants an idea of what Iain likes, here are a couple of quotes from an interview he did for The Word Hut web site.
How would you describe your writing style? Quirky and zany (if people still say things like zany) with a drop of satire thrown in. I try to make my stories Spartan, fast paced and exciting while machine gunning as many gags as possible. I love twist endings and always aim for an emotional response from my readers – even if it’s only a loud groan. Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their writing? The late Terry Pratchett. He was a god and I worship his memory. Some people sneeringly dismiss his Discworld books as being simply fantasy or comedy, but he had a spookily insightful understanding of how people really think and act, both as individuals and groups. He said more about the human condition in one chapter than Dickens did in all his works … and got more laughs.
Created with Xara Designer Pro X

Iain’s Tips

These are some of the tips that we’ve picked up from Iain’s critiques in past competitions. They’re tips, not rules, so they are flexible and open to interpretation. Hopefully, they will help you to avoid the worst of Iain’s “buts”.

It’s a short story competition…

…so try to avoid memoirs, monologues, poems etc. Have a plot with jeopardy, dialogue, a chain of events leading to a conclusion, hopefully unexpected.

Watch the word count

Keep your writing tight, don’t waste words - especially when writing humour.

Lights, Camera, ACTION

Don’t spend half the word count setting the scene. Get into the action as soon as possible.

Maintain the pace

Try to avoid interrupting the story flow with information dumps or back story. If the reader needs information, keep it brief and relevant. And don’t cheat by having characters tell each other information that they would already know.
for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Iain Pattison
for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Iain Pattison