You may think that this is a strange blog post following on from the last one where I told you that I was going to concentrate on my novel from now on. No, I haven't gone back on my word and written any short stories but I have edited and tweaked a few for competitions.
I was delighted to have been long-listed for the West Sussex Short Story competition. Unfortunately I didn't make the final ten on the short-list but I feel that the story has been given enough of a stamp of approval to try it elsewhere if it fits the remit of another competition.
So are there any benefits for a writer to enter competitions? For me, there's a buzz of taking up a challenge to write something that may grab the attention of a first reader or judge. It may be a panel of writing club members who sift through the entries and then recommend stories to go through for a further reading. I learned this when I wrote a crime story when I knew the judge was a crime writer, only to find out that she would only see the shortlisted entries of which mine wasn't one!
As the world's worst procrastinator, I enjoy the deadlines that competitions give me. Those dates are written in my diary with dates to remind me to finish edits and write final drafts. Competitions can stretch you as a writer and you may be writing about themes, and in forms of writing, you may never have considered before. I like, too, the anonymous aspect of competitions. The success - or lack of it! - depends on nothing but the words I have written and the story I have created.
Another benefit from entering competitions is that writers can learn from the feedback given by judges. Last year I was fortunate enough to have been long-listed in the Alfie Dog Short Story competition and the editor, Rosemary Kind's general feedback on the site was very helpful. We learned how the judging process was organised and what she was looking for in a winning story.
'What set the better stories apart, more than anything, was the originality of their story ideas and the high level of reader satisfaction. Ideas were not contrived, but enabled the reader to suspend reality for a few minutes and enter a different world. Their characters were convincing and believable with a greater depth of emotion that touched the reader.This latter point is something you will see clearly if you read the winning entries.'
If you would like to read last year's winning stories, you will find them HERE .
With this in mind, why not enter the 2015 competition? The closing date for entries is September 30th so you have some time yet.
£200 AND Publication of a short story collection of 35,000 – 40,000 words with editorial support for completion
full critique of stories to a total maximum word count of 10,000 words
Entry fee – the download of 5 paid short stories by different authors (Purchase number required on entry)You will find full details at Alfie Dog Fiction.
I'd love it if you would like to download any of my stories as your part of your entry fee. Here's the link showing you where to find them. Thank you.
Here is another exciting competition that caught my eye and may appeal to those of you who enjoy writing longer stories. 'The People's Friend' has launched a serial writing competition for those writers who haven't had a serial published in the magazine. In the current 'Writers' Forum', Shirley Blair, the editor, gives tips on writing a serial for the magazine along with writers who have had serials published there. The closing date for this competition is October 30th and full entry details may be found on www.the peoplesfriend.co.uk
Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.
So, there's plenty of writing to do over the next few weeks as well as moving on with the novel.
Do you enjoy entering competitions? Which ones appeal to you and which ones would you recommend? Please leave a comment about your experiences and feel free to share your successes, too. It's always good to hear how other writers have fared.
And now back to the novel....HONESTLY!