The 2020 Award with its £1750 prize fund closes in two weeks today, Monday 20th April.
If you want to write a new story at this stage (two weeks to write a story of up to 2200 words is certainly possible) but are stuck for ideas, we’ve seen that several writers are compiling great lists of prompts to help spark creativity. Christopher Fielden, who for years has been offering many resources for writers and runs his own course on writing short stories, has included a list of different inventive prompts from several different writers. American short fiction writers and teachers Nancy Stohlman and Kathy Fish are offering daily prompts for their ‘Unexpected World-Wide Writing Sabbatical’. And we’ve also seen different prompt ‘challenges’ from the online magazine The Cabinet of Heed. which might also help you write a longer piece. It’s always great to see different themes and angles on familiar subjects among the story entries. And if you like, why not try writing a story to the image on this page? Who did paint that yellow number 2 on the road. And why?
We’ve noticed that many of the short listed and winning stories in our BSSA anthologies contain underlying messages of love and hope. So if, in these very difficult times, you can write unusual stories and add these elements, it would be good to read them. We welcome stories on any theme and subject though. It is always interesting to read variety among the entries and thank you to everyone for entering.
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.
The BSSA organisers Anna Schlesinger, Jane Riekemann and Jude Higgins were delighted to launch BSSA 2019, last night, 18th November at the wonderful Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath. Nine of the twenty writers published in the anthology were able to come and read extracts from their stories to a large crowd of guests. It was wonderful to hear the story extracts come to life in the voice of the writers. For the first time, authors of the first, second and third prize stories were able to attend as well as the winner of the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction and those four writers as well as the five other shortlisted writers travelled from all over the UK to be with us. You can buy your copy from our publisher Ad Hoc Fiction and if you are in Bath, at Mr B’s.