Dare To Be Different

floral-pattern-wallpaper-vector-keepdesigning-exampleI’ve been away (again, I know!) in Castleton in the Peak District this time, where it poured with rain most of the weekend but we still had a great time.

We stayed with friends in this lovely one-time miners cottage which dated back to the 1700s – and Bonnie came too. (She thought she was a goat and/or sheep and kept going higher and higher on the peaks, when we were out walking. I was a nervous wreck).

All this gallivanting has meant that writing, Morning Pages, marking for the Writers Bureau, blog posting and general ‘stuff’ has been neglected and now I’m madly trying to catch up and not get stressed.

And breathe…

Random Word Competition – Closing Friday

So far I’ve had about 40 entries for my flash fiction 100 word writing competition but there’s still time to enter (midnight this Friday is the closing date!) if you want to have a go. I’m going to try to print them all out without seeing who sent what (if I can!) so that I can pull together a shortlist, over the weekend, as impartially as possible. And then I’ll get someone else to judge the shortlist. More details here.

A Little Prize

You know how I’m always telling you to be original if you want to do well in a competition? Well, I followed my own advice recently (smuggie alert!) and scooped a much-needed £100 cheque.

If you look on page 28 of the current Writers Forum magazine, you’ll see that I’m the winner of a little competition they ran over Christmas. They wanted a kind of writerly ‘cracker joke’, that involved a pun on a well-known writer’s name. For example: “What do you call a writer who juggles a pint of ale with a snooker cue in her hand?” (Beatrix Potter) or, a more straight-forward one, “Which writer is kind to dogs?” (Pat Barker).

Mine was, “What do you call a writer who will let you borrow £100?” (Len Deighton)*

The editor made it quite clear that his favourite entry wasn’t mine, but “What do you call a writer who falls asleep in an Indian restaurant?” (Edna Curry) BUT as Edna Curry isn’t well-known (apparently she’s an American romance writer but I haven’t heard of her – have you?), he couldn’t award first prize to that one as it hadn’t followed the rules (it had to be a ‘well known writer’).

So, mine was picked because I wrote something reasonable but also because I stuck to the rules (I used a well-known writer) AND, just as importantly, no-one else had sent in the same idea. In fact, as part of his judging process, the editor eliminated any duplications. So, you may think the Pat Barker one is pretty good, but lots of people sent that one in, so he didn’t want to choose it. By eliminating any duplicates, it was ‘easier to choose a clear winner’.

Remember that, when you enter any kind of competition! If yours is the same as someone else’s, it could work against you. Dare to be different, if for no other reason than your story will stand out if it’s original.

*he writes spy and thriller novels – oh, and cookery books. He’s the author of The Ipcress File, amongst others. (But of course, you knew that!)

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14 Responses to Dare To Be Different

  1. Karen says:

    Hi Helen, that’s great!

  2. Well done Helen, I didn’t understand any of that though… 🙂 Glad to hear you had a good weekend in Derbyshire and I sooooo understand that line about trying not to get stressed.

  3. juliathorley says:

    I love Castleton. Did you buy yourself a piece of Blue John? Congrats on the win: very funny.

    • Julia, believe it or not we didn’t go into any of the caverns or the shops, so no, I didn’t get any Blue John! (kicking myself now) but I’m sure we’ll go back at some point. It’s difficult when you’ve got a dog with you, to do all the touristy things, as we didn’t want to leave her out!

  4. Wendy Clarke says:

    I’ve only been to the Peak District once and we stayed in Castleton too. It’s lovely, isn’t it. If I’d known you were going I could have directed you to the worst cafe in the world! The experience was surreal… and then we read the Triipadvisor comments 😄

    • Yes, Castleton was lovely. And what a shame about your cafe experience! We were really lucky, I have to say and had some lovely food. The Sunday lunch in The Castle (where you can take dogs too) was out of this world! In fact, it was probably the best bit of the whole weekend!

  5. philippabowe says:

    Well done for the win and funny writer cracker joke! Maybe it will end up in actual crackers… And my advice for the bloody-hell-too-much-to-do stress: don’t look down. 😉

  6. Tracy Fells says:

    Congratulations on your win. Good prize for so little word count! Wise words too, Helen, re sticking to the rules and trying to be different. Both essential to doing well in writing competitions.

  7. Love your cracker joke. What a novel idea! Well done for following the rules and coming up with something original.

  8. Patsy says:

    Congratulations! I like the Edna Curry one too, but agree it didn’t fit the rules and therefore yours was the more worthy winner.

  9. Well done, Helen, you’re on a roll with competitions, so I’m going to enter one at the last minute soon. I’ve been thinking up a corker of a story of course:)))

  10. Linda says:

    Congratulations on another win! Not sure if I’m being thick here but is Edna Curry supposed to be Edwina Curry?

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