Just three weeks to go until our £1750 prize fund Award closes on April 20th.
Unsurprisingly, many people say it’s hard to write at the moment. But if you want to give the competition a go, you might try another tip by award-winning writer and writing tutor Mary- Jane Holmes, who we also quoted in another post on this site recently and write in a fairy tale, mythological or surreal style. Sometimes it is easier to write about important themes at a slant. And because you often have the structure of such myths and tales imbedded in your psyche, the words can flow without effort.
Maybe you can begin a first draft with ‘Once Upon A Time…’ and use fairy tale or mythological characters or write a modern version of a classic story. Fairy stories often have three parts to them and three main characters, cf ‘Goldilocks’, ‘The Three Little Pigs’ or the three sisters in ‘Beauty and the Beast’. We’d also be interested to read stories based on fairy tales from other cultures. We suspect such tales follow a similar pattern.
We found the quote below recently and thought it was interesting. You might agree?
The rule of three or power of three is a writing principle that suggests that things that come in threes are funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things. The reader or audience of this form of text is also thereby more likely to remember the information.”
So why not try writing in this form? Our initial readers love a memorable story and you may hit the bull’s eye and win one of our prizes.
Just four weeks to go until our 2020 Award closes on Monday, April 20th. Now spring has come and the sun is out, perhaps it is possible to relax a bit in these current very stressful times, and write or edit a story. There’s still time. A way to find out if your own story works is, of course, to read other short stories. One place to begin is with our own anthologies and collections by writers who have won prizes with us.
Chloe Turner won the local BSSA prize in both 2017 and 2018 with her stories, ‘Breaking the Glassblower’s Heart’ and ‘Witches Sail in Eggshells’. Her short story collection also titled Witches Sail in Eggshells was published by Reflex Press in 2019.
KM Elkes won the local BSSA prize in 2015 with his story ‘Three Kings’ and was shortlisted in 2014 with his story ‘Greta Garbo and the Chrysanthenmum Man’, published in the anthology Bath Short Story Award, Vol 3. Ken also writes very short fiction and his acclaimed collection of flash fiction, All That Is Between Us was published by Ad Hoc Fiction in June 2019.
Both these books are great reads as are our BSSA anthologies. You can buy the 2019 and 2018 anthologies from our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction’s online bookshop and via Amazon in ebook form on Kindle. And you can buy anthologies from previous years from this website at bargain prices.
And if you want to support us, our writers and our publisher, you might like to vote for them in the Saboteur Awards. Public voting for the longlists is open in several different categories until April 6th. Both Ken and Chloe qualify for the best short story collection category, so you will have to choose one of them! The 2019 BSSA anthology qualifies for the best anthology category and our publisher Ad Hoc Fiction qualifies for the most innovative publisher category. Voting closes on April 6th and we’ve linked the voting form here.. We would love your support and so would these writers. We all need a boost at the moment.
In these challenging times, for our eighth yearly award ending on April 20th, we welcome stories on all themes and subjects from the personal to the political, historical to contemporary, real or surreal. And we also invite you to send us stories with heart. They might not be light-hearted, but we love to read anything that resonates deeply and moves us. Your words count.
Our limit for the BSSA Award has always been 2200 words. A story this length takes about ten minutes to read out loud. And we think this is probably about the maximum length that people listening in a public arena can manage to concentrate on. Of course, you don’t have to write to the limit. Some of the stories that have been among the winners and short listed over the years have been much shorter than that. There is no lower limit. Although if you want to write a very short piece (300 words or less) it’s best to enter The Bath Flash Fiction Award, run by one of our team members, Jude Higgins.
To think about how to tighten your story in order to bring out its energy and subtle layers in a short space, this list of tips for writing short-short (or flash) fiction,from award winning poet,flash fiction writer, and writing tutor Mary-Jane Holmes, current judge of the Bath Flash Fiction Award, is very useful for all writers of short fiction.
Zoom in on a single event;
Begin in the middle of the action as close to the arc or climax of the story;
Decide where your focus is – event, point-of-view, character?;
Write using active voice and eliminate extraneous description;
Remember that every word counts;
Use a directive last sentence that gives narrative insight or opinion;
Make rereads necessary or at least inviting;
Close with a phrase that sends the reader back into the story;
Know when you’ve made your point.
2020 has been a checklist for global disasters: political; environmental, with bush fires and flooding and now a potential pandemic with new cases of Coronavirus or Covid-19 announced daily. Apart from the bizarre stories of stockpiling loo roll, we hear about people self-isolating and, in the case of the state of Lombardy, an entire Italian province under potential lockdown.
What must it be like to be removed or remove oneself from the world?
When I was a teenager, one of my favourite poems was Tennyson’s ‘Lady of Shallot’. The hypnotic rhythm of the verses as well as the choice and placing of words build up to create the horror of her predicament. She must not look out of the window so has to view the outside world through a mirror.
‘There she weaves by night and day/ A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say/ A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.’
She also has no idea what the curse might be ‘And so she weaveth steadily.’ This builds up to delicious, dramatic climax when ‘half-sick of shadows’ she leaves the tower and island where she has been imprisoned by the curse. You might also recognise her from the paintings of John Waterhouse and other pre-Raphaelites (see above).
This photo was taken in Marrakech a few years ago and made me wonder who might have once sat in the gloomy interior looking out onto a sunny tiled courtyard and, directly opposite, another dark room. Perhaps the room was a refuge from the searing sun? Or something else?
If you need inspiration for your story, think about isolation as a theme or use a poem, a painting or one of your own photos as a starting point. Your story (up to 2200 words) can be on any theme or genre but must reach us by midnight on Monday, April 20th. So get writing!
How are your stories coming on? Do you need to jump in and start writing or are you on the umpteenth draft? There are seven weeks to go until the deadline of our eighth yearly Award on Monday April 20th. Our judge this year is Kate Johnson from Mackenzie Wolf Literary Agency.
You still have time to write a new story or polish up an existing one and enter.
This picture of turtles taken in the Yves St. Laurent garden in Marrakech might prompt a new story. Perhaps a different angle on mothers and babies, perhaps a story in an interesting location. Perhaps a story actually involving turtles.
We’re looking forward to reading all your entries, almost as much as we’re hoping that we’ve seen the last of the recent spate of storms. But stormy stories are welcome, as well as quiet ones.