With two weeks to go until the £1750 prize fund 2021 Bath Short Story Award, judged by Norah Perkins, from Curtis Brown, closes at midnight on Monday April 19th, try these ten tiny tweaks to your story before you enter.
1. Find and remove all your favourite ‘tic’ filler words. Could be ‘just’ or ‘really’.
2. Find and remove all your favourite ‘tic’ action verbs, eg do all your characters get the shakes? ‘he trembled’ ‘he shook’, ‘he shivered’.
3. Similar to the above. Stop your characters shrugging or sighing or arching their eyebrows or winking.
4. Scalpel out double adjectives. Or even most adjectives.
5. Scalpel out all unnecessary ‘ly’ adverbs.
6. Get the cliche police out and search for sneaky cliches eg, ‘gnarled fingers’, ‘tears welled’.
7. Chop off your last sentence. Or last paragraph.
8. Begin with your second sentence or paragraph.
9. If your character is going to dispatch their partner/husband/boyfriend by poison or any other murderous means, change the ending and let them live (not such a tiny tweak). Such murderous stories are very common among our entries. A change of heart is umusual.
10. Change the title to something that draws in the reader. Titles such as ‘The Gift’, ‘Flight’, ‘Dust’ are very common. Try making your title long and arresting (as long as that fits with the story).
Good luck everyone!
The reading team is busy at work. And as a final reminder, they read blind, so don’t add any identifying details on your document. And remember the word count is 2200.
Jude at BSSA Team