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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.

Short Story Competitions

The tips on the right were gleaned from comments made by Iain Pattison when judging our competition over recent years. It is probably worth bearing these points in mind when writing for any short story competition.
Michael Oke came to a circle meeting a few years ago and gave a very good talk about memoir writing. He has his own business helping people to write their memoirs and produces the finished articles to a very high standard. He once appeared on Dragons’ Den with his proposition - no offers. Later, one of the dragons, James Caan, used his service for his own memoir. Even without help from the Dragons, Michael’s business is still thriving. Having now personally assisted with over 300 books, he is recognised as a leading authority on the writing of private life stories. He handed out a page of tips at his talk to us which, at the time, several of our memoir writers found helpful. Hopefully, some of our newer members will find his Twenty Tips for Writing Your Life Story helpful too.   Writing a memoir Ian has judged the NAWG short story competition. Here’s the advice he gave to potential participants - as published in NAWG’s Link magazine.  As a judge of the open short story category, what will I be looking for? Quite simple - a story with wow factor. I want to read a yarn that dares to be different, oozes originally, that isn’t a wet, limp, retread of all the bland magazine stories I’ve ever seen. Give me escapism. Give me drama. Look beyond the mundane and the ordinary. Be witty be adventurous. If you like, explore dark, meaty themes and deep emotions. Whatever you write about, be bold, be intriguing, be attention grabbing and surprising. Aim for language that is tight and economic - avoid over-blown description or florid, pretentious self-consciously clever word play. Keep it simple. Keep it moving. And never forget that it is a story, not a character sketch or vignette - plot is vital. Dramatic, upsetting, amazing things have to happen to the main character. He or she has to be sucked into the events unfolding and play a significant part in resolving whatever dilemma or crisis has engulfed them. And I want to see work that is polished. Give yourself time to hone work. Don’t knock it out in a panic a few days before the closing date. Ian’s Own Words On Short Stories
for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Writing Tips
for writers of fiction, non-fiction and poetry
Thames Valley Writers’ Circle
Writing Tips