Time is running out now. There’s just over one week before our 2019 Award ends on Monday,15th April. Results out in late July.
Tweak your title Does your short story have an arresting title? Over the years we have seen many stories titled, ‘The Journey’, ‘The Gift’, ‘Flight’, ‘Dust’. One or two word titles of course can work fine. Our 2018 winning story is called ‘The Tank’. The noun ‘tank’ isn’t commonly used as a title, and it works because it focusses on two people trapped in a water tank. Don’t make your title quirky or too long unless this matches or complements the whole story style and subject matter. For example, I don’t think the title of my micro fiction ‘You Know You Are Doing It For Real When You Buy Toilet Cleaner’ recently published in Flash Frontier comedy issue, would work for a longer story. This very short piece is essentially what is sometimes called ‘a breathless paragraph’ and the title fits the pace. One of the 2018 commended stories ‘Down In the Mud On Limehouse Beach’ is a descriptive title that pulls the reader in. It’s intriguing.
Top and Tail your stories. You know those small woody parts that stick out on newly picked gooseberries? If you don’t snip them off at the bottom and at the top they can spoil your eating pleasure. It’s the same with a story. Consider if those first and last paragraphs (or lines) are really necessary.
Add the senses Have a look through to see if you have enriched your story with sensory detail. And not just sight. We’re fond of smells too in the BSSA reading team. And touch, taste, sounds. This is something often mentioned but it always helps reader stay inside your story world.
Typos We’re not too fussed about minor typos, but it’s a happy feeling to read a clean copy in a simple font.
Word length. A couple of words over is allowed. But we have had stories entered hundreds of words longer than the 2200 limit.
Comb through for cliches.
We’re a fan of the obvious. Often the seasoned writer knows all about what’s on the list below but still neglects one or two aspects of final edits.
They sneak in as do nods, shrugs, sighs. Get your scalpel out. It’s fun to cut away excess flab. Double adjectives, pesky adverbs.
Check your computer ‘drawers’ for old stories and cut them down using the above tips. Remember, we do not have a lower word limit. So an old story might shine more brightly if it can lose half of its words.