An A-Z of ‘Character Conflicts’

The bad news is, my entry to the Writers’ Forum ‘A-Z’ competition (they wanted an 800-word A-Z feature on any aspect of writing) DIDN’T win or even get an honourable mention 😦 BUT that means, WF’s loss is our gain because here it is, just for you: the A-Z of character conflicts.

We all know a key element in fiction is conflict but it’s easy to think this just means ‘fighting’. It took me a while to realise conflict is more about giving your character problems or obstacles (both internal and external) to overcome. I’ve often thought a list of possible conflicts would be useful. There are many more than 26 of course but here are some ideas (and for the purpose of brevity, ‘hero’ in this piece stands for any main character, male or female):

A: Addiction. Drugs, sex, alcohol, gambling, nicotine or shopping: give your characters an addition and you give them problems.

B: Bullying. It’s not confined to the playground: bullying happens in the workplace and within marriages too.

C: Cowardice. Many heroes start life as cowards, resisting the ‘call to action’. eg: Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Part of reader satisfaction is seeing a character change and grow. If your hero’s fearful, force him to face those fears.

D: Difference: ‘Fish out of water’ is a popular theme in fiction. If your character is ‘different’ – an outcast or an oddity – that isolation and struggle for acceptance could drive a compelling plot.

E: Enemy. Most protagonists need an opposing antagonist (for every hero, a villain). This is the most obvious character-versus-character conflict: someone who’s trying to thwart your hero’s aims.

F: Family: marital strife, sibling rivalry, power struggles, ‘boomerang kids’, post-natal depression, arranged marriages and so on. Family relationships offer dozens of possibilities.

G: Guilt: A fascinating inner conflict. Guilt can torment a character, as he tries to hide it or come to terms with it.

H: Hunger. A hungry (or thirsty) or starving character has a basic need to fulfil. It’s a real plot driver and whole novels have been written around it (eg: Helen Dunmore’s The Siege).

I: Indecision. Procrastinating, indecisive characters are in mental turmoil. Just look what happened to Hamlet.

J: Jealousy. Ditto, Othello.

K: Killjoy. A misery-guts can prevent characters from achieving their dreams (eg: a tyrannical father or boss) or – like Ebenezer Scrooge – make life miserable for themselves.

L: Lies. Most crime fiction involves lies but untruths in any kind of fiction create confusion, fear (eg: of being found out) and tension.

M: Money. Lack of cash is a problem in itself but desire for money can also lead to crime and rifts (eg: a shared lottery win, a contested will).

N: Narcissist. Self-obsessed and vain, with an inflated sense of their own importance and lacking empathy, narcissists are the characters we love to hate. Typical narcissists: Dorian Grey and the husband in the play Gaslight, who manipulates his wife into believing she’s going mad.

O: Opposites: put complete opposites together in a confined space (preferably somewhere confined – an office, or the family Christmas dinner) and conflict will naturally occur.

P: Phobias. The hero of The Da Vinci Code is claustrophobic (tricky when his only escape route is a narrow tunnel) but there are hundreds of phobias, from fear of clowns (coulrophobia) to the number 13 (triskaidekaphobia) Google phobias and take your pick.

Q: Quarrel: A courtroom battle, a row over a parking space or a fight between nations. A ‘bust-up’ – big or small – is an obvious conflict but if it suits your story, why not?

R: Religion: Anything that divides society – such as religion – will provide issues and conflict. Your characters may be torn between obedience, doubting their faith, in love with someone from another religion or at war.

S: Society. Person-versus-society – eg: characters who struggle with a community or a controlling government (eg: The Handmaid’s Tale or Orwell’s 1984). It doesn’t have to be science-fiction, though. You could write about slavery in ancient Rome, the suffragette movement or the miners’ strike.

T: Technology. A car breaks down, a plane’s engine dies, a writer’s laptop explodes, robots turn against humanity. When technology ‘fails’, problems ensue.

U: Underprivileged. If your character’s poor, uneducated or otherwise lacking, due to their background, they will struggle to get ahead. It’s the basis of all ‘rags to riches’ stories.

V: Vendettas. Family feuds, often involving misplaced loyalty and forbidden love, will force characters to act, even against their will. An obvious example is Romeo and Juliet.

W: Weather. Snowdrifts, floods, storms, heatwaves. Any kind of extreme weather or force of nature (a landslide, a tsunami) can present your character with a raft of problems to overcome.

X: Xenophobia. Give your hero a fear, distrust or even hatred of someone of another nationality and then put him in close contact with just that person. And let the sparks fly.

Y: Youth. If you want to raise the stakes, it may help to make your character young or naïve (or seemingly young, such as an adult with learning disabilities). That character will be vulnerable, may struggle to interpret the world and might also lack the resources to easily solve his problems.

Z: Zombies. Or ghosts, aliens, vampires, werewolves: take your pick of malevolent forces. They don’t have to be confined to horror or sci-fi fiction. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a 2009 parody of Austen’s classic novel and later, a film. When it comes to character conflicts, as long as you can make it work, there really are no rules!

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Posted in Books | Tagged , | 24 Comments

Tips for Short Story Competitions

Just a quickie from me today because I’m trying to do NaNoWriMo and I’m already behind on the wordcount! Eek!

As you probably know, the idea is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November, which works out at just about 1,667 per day, so that’s what I’ve been aiming to do.

My ‘novel’ (idea-for-a-novel might be more accurate) is historical so I’m having to do a bit of research as I go along (otherwise I’ll just be writing complete twaddle!) That’s my excuse for the slowness, anyway and I’m sticking to it!

Anyone else out there doing NaNoWriMo? How’s it going?

Short Story Competitions – Tips & Tactics

Since my last post, I’ve been to a talk by writer Vanessa Gebbie on ‘tips and tactics’ for entering short story competitions. Vanessa has won and been placed in lots of prestigious short story competitions (eg: the Bridport Prize, which she talks about here ) and she also happens to be the main judge of this year’s Evesham Festival of Words’ short story competition (more of that anon).

‘Word Cricket’

At the start of the session, she asked us to do a ‘word cricket’ exercise (which I’ve subsequently done with my own class and it’s great fun). If you do this with a group yourself, it’s important to state at the beginning that no-one will be asked to read their work aloud (because otherwise they’ll censor what they write or worry about what people will say/think).

The idea is that you’re given a starter phrase (eg: ‘The door creaked open…’ ) and then you ‘free write’ for 10 minutes (ie: don’t take your pen off the page, just write whatever comes into your head, in a stream-of-consciousness way) but at regular intervals, the moderator will ‘bowl’ you a word that you have to insert into the writing immediately, or as quickly as you possibly can.

Our workshop/talk was held in a museum that had a World War I display, so many of the words that Vanessa ‘bowled’ at us, had a military theme (eg: trench, wire, shell) but you can use anything. I was particularly evil with my own class and gave them words like ‘seagull’, ‘balloon’ and ‘tiger’.

At the end of the 10 minutes, when Vanessa asked how that had felt, the words ‘exciting’, ‘liberating’ and ‘fun’ were used. A few people agreed they might have an idea for a story (or a character) and apparently, this technique has been used to generate the first (very rough!) draft of stories that later went on to win prizes.

What are the ‘rules’ for writing a short story?

One of the attendees was clearly new to writing and he asked how to write a short story and for some rules and an explanation of the difference between novels and short stories (phew, how long have you got?!).

‘Read lots of short stories’ was the clear and obvious answer (read lots and see what can be done with the form). But as far as ‘rules’ are concerned, Vanessa’s not keen on them.

I, for example, was always told that you should start a short story as close to the end as possible and that you should have as few characters as you can get away with. But Vanessa wasn’t keen on any of those instructions. There are ‘no rules’, she told us. If you can make it work, then anything goes!

If you’re thinking of entering the Evesham Short Story competition (more details here), here are a couple more things to think about:

Vanessa likes a good title (some of her own story titles are “I can squash the King, Tommo…” and ‘Words from a Glass Bubble’). So, try to think of a good title and start your story with some punchy first lines, that demonstrate a strong, clear voice. In the first few lines of a short story, the reader must be convinced that you, the writer, can tell a story and that reading it is going to be worth five or ten minutes of their precious time.

She also advised anyone sendng a story to a competition, not to leave it to the very last minute (which is what I do!). Why? Because the ‘readers’ (and I’m one this year), will have less time to spend on your story. Many stories are submitted in the final few days of a competition, which puts the readers under pressure to read them and come up with their shortlist. If you send your story in early, then you’re effectively buying more time; more time for your story to be read and considered and, hopefully, put on the ‘possible shortlist’ pile.

Evesham Festival of Words Short Story Competition

The adult competition costs £5 per entry and closes on 22nd March 2019 (so there’s plenty of time but don’t leave it too late!). There’s a first prize of £150 and runners-up prizes too and as there’s no anthology this year, if your story is placed (or wins), it’s up to you whether or not it appears on the Festival website. If you’d prefer for it not to appear, then of course you’ll be free to do something else with it, as it will be considered ‘unpublished’.

There’s also a junior competition (judged by Ann Evans and open in two categories – 8 – 11 years and 12 – 15 years), which is FREE to enter. We’d love to encourage more junior entries this year, so if you work with children or young adults – or have one yourself, that likes to write – please do consider encouraging them to enter!

Right, end of not-so-short post. And it’s back to the 1940s for me ….

Posted in Competitions, Short Stories | Tagged | 7 Comments

Alright, how’s it going, alright? (Back from Wales!)

Alright?

To be honest, I didn’t hear anyone say that ‘Alright’ thing while I was in Wales last week (maybe it’s only in Gavin & Stacey) BUT there was a lot of Welsh being spoken (fair play) and they might have been saying it all over the place, just in a language I couldn’t understand.

So yes, I’m back! Since my last post, I’ve been on a week’s writing course in Wales, my blog’s had its 8th birthday (846 followers and 612 posts to date, including this one, if you like stats!) and I’ve also had an ‘anniversaire’ (but I’ll keep my new age to myself, thank you very much).

I promised you a full report on the week at Tŷ Newydd, so here goes:

Our 4.5 hour journey from the Midlands to North Wales was pretty uneventful, apart from a crazy lorry driver, who tailgated us, on the windiest of Welsh roads, for what seemed like FOREVER (you’ve seen the film ‘Duel’, right?) and a planned coffee stop at ‘Vinnie’s’ which, from the sign, sounded nice but turned out to be a shack on the hard shoulder with a portaloo! (We drove on …!)

Sorry? Oh, I see. You wanted a full report on the writing holiday, not the ‘getting there’ bit. Right, .. well, Tŷ Newydd is the National Writing Centre of Wales and it’s also the former home of Prime Minister David Lloyd-George (or DLG, as my Welsh friend calls him).

Apparently, he died in the beautiful library in which the group (14 of us, including 2 tutors), spent every evening. The room had amazing acoustics but only some of the time, which was a bit eerie!

The library at Ty Newydd (which means ‘New House’ by the way)

The house is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by woods, the river Dwyfor flows nearby and it’s just a short walk into Criccieth, with its stunning coastline and castle and general loveliness.

The centre is run very much along the lines of Arvon, so if you’ve been on an Arvon course (I have – twice – but not recently), then you’ll know what I mean. BUT, the good news is, you’re not expected to cook (just ‘help out’ one evening in the kitchen – washing up, collecting plates, that kind of thing. You do it in teams of 3 or 4, so it’s not too arduous!)

And …shhh, it’s a bit cheaper than Arvon too. But it’s ‘rustic’ in the same way – ie: it’s not a hotel. You have to take your own shampoo and shower gel, for example and there are no ‘tea and coffee making facilities’ (I’m a bit partial to those, I must admit!) and not all the rooms are en-suite, although if you’re sharing a bathroom, it’s only with one other person.

But, on the plus side, it’s cosy and comfortable and the food – courtesy of Tony the chef – is fabulous and if you want to spend time writing, there are lots of nooks and crannies in which to hide yourself away.

After a help-yourself breakfast, we had workshops in the mornings (starting at 9.30am), on all aspects of writing a novel – from getting and developing ideas, to setting and dialogue and so on, and then, later in the week, more of the ‘nitty gritty’ getting an agent, writing a synopsis, kind of stuff.

Lloyd George’s grave, Llanystumdwy

In the afternoons, there were one-to-ones with both (excellent!) tutors – Alison May and Janet Gover and time to write (or walk in the lovely sunshine).

On Wednesday night we had a guest speaker – the very down-to-earth and inspiring Jo Thomas. She went through the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme no less than 8 times (!) and was on the verge of giving up, when she finally got her book deal – and she now writes two novels a year! Wow!

While I was there, I started thinking about my next novel (that sounds very grand but bear with me… the ‘first one’ is still with the RNA but I can’t hang around waiting for the critique to come back, especially as I want to do NaNoWriMo, so I need to move on!)

It was great having the chance to discuss my fledgling idea with the two tutors and to write the first 500 words, which was my ‘task’ for Thursday night, when we all read a short piece of work aloud, written during the week.

One of the brilliant aspects of being at a writing centre like Tŷ Newydd is that you’re in a little bubble for the week. The ‘real world’ seems very distant and it’s so much easier to think and act like a writer.

It’s also a real experience to be with ‘working writers’ – ie: the tutors – for whom teaching is just a small part of their working lives: most of the time they are writing, working on edits, promoting their latest novel and thinking about ideas for the next one. It gives you a real insight into what it’s like (hard work – no lounging on a chaise longue, dictating to a secretary, a la Barbara Cartland, for a start!).

It also made me think about the Romantic Novelists’ Association. This wasn’t specifically a ‘romance’ course but as the tutors pointed out, most novels have an element of romance in them (even if it’s just that the narrator was/is married). The RNA is a ‘broad church’ – even if you’re writing something that’s more ‘relationship-based’ than ‘romance’ (ie: you don’t have to be writing Mills and Boon, hearts-and-flowers type stuff), there may be a place for you and the RNA is very supportive of its members and new writers.

So, don’t dismiss it. The New Writers’ Scheme, which I joined in January, is a great and very cost-effective way to get a critique on your work. There’s more information on the website.

In summary, we had a fabulous time, learned lots and enjoyed ourselves. I would definitely recommend it! (but just take your travel kettle, eh?)

Vanessa Gebbie: Tips & Tactics for Short Story Competitions: 27th October, 2.30 – 4pm, Evesham

On a different note, if you are anywhere in/around Evesham this coming Saturday (27th October 2018, 2.30 – 4pm), you might be interested in a talk on writing short fiction for competitions, led by Vanessa Gebbie, who knows a thing or two about winning and judging short story competitions.

Her stories have won or been placed in competitions including the Bridport Prize, the Fish Prize (twice), Per Contra (USA) and Willesden Herald and she now acts as final judge for many competitions herself – including Evesham Festival of Words’ Short Story competition in 2019.

Tickets are just £10 including refreshments and I’ll be there, so if you do pop along, come and say hello! More details here.

Posted in Events, Novels, Short Stories, West Midlands | Tagged | 6 Comments

‘Ladybird, Ladybird…’

I told you (last time) that the weather had gone strange and now, here we are, on the 10th October, with sunshine and temperatures of 21 degrees C!

I’m sitting in my ‘cave’, with all the doors and windows open, the dog lying next to me on the sofa (she’s allowed on it in here AS LONG AS she waits for me to put the blanket down) and about a million ladybirds crawling everywhere. Have you got them too?

Apparently, they’re searching for warm spots in which to hibernate! I’m not sure if that’s cute or creepy (crawly).

And talking of ‘Ladybirds’, do you remember ‘Play With Us’ (1a)? I think it was the first book I ever read. It’s certainly the first one I remember and as it’s aimed at 4 – 5 year olds, that’s probably about right. Ah, Peter and Jane and all that.

The second one – 1b – is here:


When I Googled it just now and saw that cover, I was instantly transported back to my childhood. I can even remember the feel of the hardback cover in my hands and my fascination with that butterfly.

Of course, there’s a new range of ‘adult’ (not that kind of adult!) Ladybird books now, which are really good fun. (‘The Midlife Crisis’, ‘The People Next Door’, ‘The Hipster’ and so on – and they all use original Ladybird illustrations).

Writing Holiday Course

This time next week – all being well – I’ll be at Tŷ Newydd, which is the National Writing Centre of Wales – on a Writing Popular Fiction course led by Alison May and Janet Gover.

Wheee!

I am going with MY FRIEND CHRIS (who likes to get a mention) and I’m really looking forward to it! I’ll report back in full in the next post.

This course is full but if you want to see what else Alison is offering over the next 12 months, there are more details on her website. I really like her teaching style – it’s relaxed but informative. (Unlike a scary teacher that my friend recently encountered on her ‘Learn to Play Bridge’ course, who asked someone, ‘Are you completely stupid?’).

Funnily enough, in my post of exactly a year ago today (10th October 2017), I was blogging about a weekend writing retreat I’d just been on, led by.. you’ve guessed it – Alison and Janet.

I’d also been for a boozy tour of the Cotswold Distillery but that’s not happened today. In fact, in complete contrast, I have been to Pilates. My body is a temple and all that.

NaNoWriMo

And there’s just time to remind you that the month-long torture that is NaNoWriMo starts in about 3 weeks’ time. I think I might do it again this year. Anyone else?

Posted in Blogging, Bonnie, Cotswolds | Tagged | 16 Comments

All Change!

The weather’s gone funny, don’t you think? We had a proper cold winter, followed by a proper hot summer and now the weather doesn’t know what to do with itself.

We turned the heating on and now we’re sweltering and have turned it off again.

I realised yesterday that (probably because they were early and took me by surprise), I didn’t pick any blackberries this year. ☹

And yes, to reflect the time of year, I’ve changed the header to something ‘leafy’.

National Poetry Day

It’s National Poetry Day this week – on Thursday 4th October, to be precise.

The theme this year is ‘change’, which is really wide-ranging and could almost encompass anything:

A physical change (from a caterpillar to a butterfly, say, or from a girl to a woman), changing seasons, change of cultures (holidays or migration), changing your hairstyle, a change of career, moving house or jobs, swapping partners or schools, changing trains, changes in society (suffragettes, the end of slavery, a new president).. and I’m sure you can think of many more.

If you want to find out more about National Poetry Day (and/or get some inspiration for your own writing), there’s plenty of info on the website, including a list of events, poems on the theme of change (by everyone from Shakespeare to Rudyard Kipling) and resources for teachers.

If you prefer writing fiction to poetry, then remember that a moment of change is always a good place to start a story:

Think about Harry Potter, when Hagrid comes to tell him he’s got magical powers and that he’s off to Hogwarts to learn to be a wizard. That’s certainly a change from living under the stairs at the Dursleys!

If you’re a fan of Robert Galbraith (aka J K Rowling), as I am, you’ll remember the first novel in her Cormoran Strike series starts when Robin arrives to start working as a temp for Strike – something that immediately changes both their lives.

Bodyguard, the TV series I mentioned in the last post, starts with a change, when David Budd is assigned as protection officer to the luscious Home Secretary, Julia Montague.

And in Kafka’s novella Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis), Gregor Samsa wakes up to find he’s been transformed into a giant insect. (If you want to hear Benedict Cumberbatch read it – in English! – it’s here).

If you’re ever stuck for a story idea – or how to begin – think about a moment of change and see where it takes you.

The Friendship Project for Children

Something that made a change for me recently, was writing my first article for The People’s Friend magazine. I wrote about a favourite topic of mine – the Friendship Project – the Warwickshire-based charity that I used to work for and it appeared in last week’s issue.

But here’s a little look, in case you missed it!

Posted in Books, Events, Good Causes, Poetry, The People's Friend, West Midlands | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Time for TV!

Jed Mercurio is certainly the ‘man of the moment’ (and if you don’t know who he is, where’ve you been?!). He’s the writer of Bodyguard – THAT BBC 1 drama (10.4 million people watched the final episode last Sunday!).

It’s been credited with a return to the ‘good old days’ of TV, when we all watched the same programmes (because we didn’t have box-sets or the choice of a million channels). And certainly, over the past few weeks, my experience was, if you asked people “Are you watching Bodyguard?” they’d all say “Ooh yes!” Even my ex-police officer neighbour, who hates most police dramas because they’re so unrealistic, was gripped.

I’ve been a fan of the writer Jed Mercurio (with his amazing, Shakespearean-sounding name), ever since I watched Line of Duty, which he also writes. He’s one of the few TV/script writers that actually gets some recognition and isn’t just a faceless name lost in the credits.

He’s also something of a ‘whizz kid’. He’s a qualified doctor – oh and a former RAF officer (it doesn’t seem fair, does it, that someone can not only save lives and fly planes but is also a brilliant writer?) and he only got into writing when he answered an advertisement in the British Medical Journal and got involved in writing his first TV drama, Cardiac Arrest.

Here’s an interview with him, talking about Bodyguard – on the BBC Writers Room.

I’ve probably mentioned the BBC Writers Room website before.

It’s a great resource of information and opportunities for anyone wanting to write TV drama, radio, comedy, children’s programmes – and more.

For example, at certain times of the year, the BBC has ‘submission windows’ when they will accept and read unsolicited scripts. They next ‘window’ is likely to be for drama and towards the end of this year. Good news, then! They are actively looking for new ideas and new writers!

The website also has a script library, which is fascinating. Bodyguard isn’t on there (yet!) but all 4 series of Line of Duty are – and plenty of others, if you’re interested.

And if you’re missing Bodyguard… here’s another TV tip from me.. Killing Eve is brilliant!

Posted in Television | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Obeying the Dice!

Right, before anyone moans, I’ve checked and these days, you can use ‘dice’ for both the plural and singular forms of ‘cubes with numbers on them’! Who knew?

The New Oxford Dictionary of English says,”In modern standard English, the singular die (rather than dice) is uncommon. Dice is used for both the singular and the plural.”

Right, now we’ve cleared that up, off we go.

Sometimes, when I’m procrastinating and can’t seem to settle down to do anything (I know, it’s hard to believe that ever happens), I write a list of 6 things that I’ve got to – or want to – do, all of which would take about an hour (or you could do it for half hour slots, if you prefer).

A typical list might be:

1. Read a book! 🙂
2. Polish up a story and submit to Writers Forum competition
3. Write a blog post
4. Work on magazine short story
5. Take the dog for a walk
6 Do the ironing & hoovering

As you can see, depending on my mood (and the weather), these are a mixture of ‘treats’ and ‘chores’. And then – I bet you’re ahead of me here – I throw a dice and whichever number comes up, that dictates how I HAVE to spend the next hour.

It’s like a ‘boss’ telling me my next task and when the decision is taken away from me, it’s much easier to just get on and do it. And the idea is, of course, that if I start early enough in the day, all 6 tasks will eventually be done. (Erm, in theory, anyway).

It stops me from procrastinating and putting off tasks (I usually leave the thing I want to do least until the end of the day and end up doing it at midnight, which makes the whole thing more of a chore than it would have been if I’d done it when I wasn’t tired and had plenty of time!).

It’s also a kind of rough plan for the day. If I know that, at some point, I’m going to be working on a short story, when I’m doing one of the other tasks (like taking the dog for a walk), I’ll automatically start thinking about that story. Hopefully, then, when I come to sit and write it, I’ll already be half way there.

Of course, the roll of the dice could instruct me to spend a lovely hour reading, which is something I probably wouldn’t normally ‘allow’ myself to do during the day as it feels like such an extravagance. But if the dice tells me that’s what I have to do, I have no choice but to obey! (Is this starting to sound like some kind of weird Doctor Who episode?)

If you are a decisive and organised person, you are probably shaking your head in despair but all I can say is, it works for me and it’s kind of fun, not knowing what order I’ll be doing all my jobs for the day. (And of course, you could make it even more exciting by using 2 dice and 12 different tasks….!)

BBC National Short Story Award
On a different – and much less frivolous note – the shortlisted entries in the BBC National Short Story Award were announced a few days ago. This is not something I enter, I hasten to add because I feel it’s for the ‘big boys and girls’ but maybe one day….

There were nearly 800 entries and, apparently for the fifth time in the Awards’ history, the “shortlist consists of all female writers”. Hmm, I’m not sure what I think about that. Does it matter? Is it even relevant? Perhaps – I hope – it shows that the judges weren’t concerned with who had written the stories and therefore weren’t trying to be ‘balanced’ or ‘politically correct’ in their choices – they were just focussing on choosing the best five stories. If those happened to be written by women, so what?
Because – as someone who entered the competition has pointed out on Twitter – this competition wasn’t necessarily judged anonymously.

In the rules, it states: “Judges are encouraged to read the longlisted stories anonymously; however, they are not required to do so. The whole panel will be provided with the name of the author of each longlisted story ahead of shortlisting to ensure all judges are party to the same information when making their decisions.”

That seems odd to me and I hope most judges did decide to read the stories without knowing who’d written them. Most writing competitions are judged anonymously, after all and that seems only fair.

And if you’re interested in listening to the shortlisted stories (something to do, perhaps, if number 6 pops up on the dice and I end up ironing..) they’re all on the BBC Radio i-player here.

Evesham Festival of Words Competition
And talking of competitions, The Evesham Festival of Words Short Story competition will be launched on 1st November. One of my shiny new jobs, as a member of the Steering Committee, will be to select a shortlist (anonymously!), in conjunction with another ‘reader’. I’m really looking forward to it! The shortlisted entries will then be passed on to the main judge, Vanessa Gebbie (anonymously!) for her final decision.

Vanessa Gebbie, who knows a bit about writing competitions, as she’s won and judged several, is, incidentally, running a workshop in Evesham next month (Saturday 27th October), giving tips on entering short story competitions, so if you want the inside track on what she might be looking for, come along! It’s only £10 a ticket. More details (second event down) on the website here.

Posted in Competitions, Short Stories, West Midlands | Tagged | 14 Comments