Thursday 20 August 2015

Competitions - Are they Good For Writers?
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. 

1st Prize:

£200 AND Publication of a short story collection of 35,000 – 40,000 words with editorial support for completion

2nd Prize:

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

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.

Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.

And now back to the novel....HONESTLY!

Wednesday 5 August 2015

The Long and the Short of It
I've written my last short story. No, not for ever but for a while. I've got a few short stories to tweak and edit but as for starting to write a spanking new story from scratch, that's it. Why? Well, I've made a choice and I'm going to spend time on my novel. I know now I'm not someone who can do both at the same time. While I'm completing my novel, I need to concentrate on that and immerse myself in the story, converse and interact with my characters and get the writing done. Those of you who have been following my blog will know that it's going on a bit now and the first draft needs to be finished.

During July, I took part in CampNaNoWriMo. CampNaNoWriMo is a more open-ended version of the original November event in which I took part. The organisation welcomes word-count goals anywhere between 10,000 and 1,000,000! The idea is that you have a virtual creative retreat where you write to achieve the goal you've set yourself in the company and support of other writers. A big thank you to Kath Eastman for inviting me to join her 'cabin'. Congratulations, Kath, on achieving an impressive word count on your new novel!  I knew from the outset that July was going to be a very busy month for me with lots of family celebrations so in the end I set my goal at 12,000 words. In the end, I'd written 13,474 words. Each one of those words took me a step nearer to finishing the first draft. Apart from the week when I was in Manchester, I did write practically every day and this is what I see now when I open my page. This way of writing is not for everyone but I've learned so much in my first effort. 

I've now written over 71,000 words of the first draft and am well on my way to finishing. This is something I'm determined to do without any more distractions from short stories but I'm sure the pull to write one will still be there. I like the fact that you can finish a complete story in a relatively short space of time and the sense of achievement that brings. I also know that 'getting it right' will be when the real work begins but for now I need to get the book written! 

What about you? Can you write short stories along side writing your novel? How do you get the balance right? Perhaps you started by writing short stories but now you mainly write novels. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  

Thank you for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.