BSSA 2022

Unique Angles on The Short Story

Our Award ends on April 11th. In 13 weeks time. Want to write a short story with an unusual angle that stands out from the crowd? Join one of these very affordable short courses at The Crow Collective organised by dynamic writer and story teller, Sage Tyrtle.

Our own BSSA team member, Alison Woodhouse, prize winning writer and tutor for the City Lit, is running one on Structuring Your Short Fiction on January 30th for the Crow Collective. And Sage has has a great line up of tutors for her other workshops in the series.

A new year, a new story?

January is a wonderful month (no it is, really) and one of the best parts is cracking open a brand new notebook and filling it with fresh words. Let’s not call them resolutions (not a fan, they can so quickly turn to disappointments and we use them against ourselves) but rather hopes and dreams; let’s take a gentler approach to writing and ourselves as writers (and humans!).

If you’re struggling to think of a fresh new story, perhaps try this. Choose a story you wrote a while ago, one you’ve abandoned, one you got stuck on, you lost your way, you don’t think it’s any good. Print it out and read it in a comfy chair, with a cup of coffee or tea, and don’t use a pen, just let the words sink in without criticising them. Maybe do that a couple of times. Then put it away, go about your day. When you’re ready, come back to your laptop or notebook and write that story out, without looking at it. See what has stayed with you, what you remember. My hope is, you’ll unearth a ‘new’ story that was there all along. I do this a lot with drafts. I write them in pencil and just let them go where they want. They’re terrible, really rubbish (yes, I know we shouldn’t use those words but they ARE) but when I come back, read them, start again, there’s nearly always something golden I can find. A character, a situation, a voice, an idea, even just a sentence but it’s great, the story is still breathing! And it’s a kind of magic.

Our deadline is April 11th. That’s 14 weeks away. Plenty of time so slow down, don’t rush, swim around a bit, explore your words, weave magic. I truly believe stories are more important than ever. Fill them with your voice, your unique way of seeing the world. Write the story only you can write. We can’t wait to read them!

Eight short story prompts for the winter solstice

21st December. It’s the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and today there are  just under eight hours of daylight in London
Because most writers love a prompt to get them going here’s a list of prompts, one for each daylight hour. Maybe if you have some time today, see if you can write a rough draft inspired by one of them. Our 2022 Award ends on 11th April, so plenty of time to finish it.

photo by mikka luotio on Unsplash

  • Write a short story which begins at sunrise on the winter solstice and ends at sunset.
  • Write a happy and hopeful short story involving an incident on the shortest day.
  • Write a short story based around Stonehenge with nods to Thomas Hardy.
  • Write a short story involving an illicit solstice party.
  • Write a short story involving a solstice tradition in another country.
  • Write a story about the beginning and the end of a relationship in eight paragraphs with eight snatches of dialogue.
  • Write a wintry short story from the point of view of an eight year old child.
  • Write an historical short story with a title that includes a character’s name and the word ‘light’.
  • Write fast, don’t worry about whether it makes sense, this is just your first draft a chance for you to play.

    Happy Winter Solstice!

    BSSA 2022 Open Now

    The ninth Bath Short Story Award is open for entries now and will close on Monday, April 11th at midnight BST. We welcome stories of up to 2200 words on any subject or theme from anywhere in the world. Before entering, please check the rules for more details.
    This year, the competition is judged by novelist, short story writer, playwright and writing teacher, Paul McVeigh who has judged many short story awards. Read our interview with him to find out more about him and what he looks for in a short story.
    The longlist and shortlist for the 2022 Award is likely to be announced in July 2022 and the winners by August 2022.

    Prizes as follows:
    £1200, first prize
    £300, second prize
    £100, third prize
    £100, the Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction.
    £50 in book vouchers for the local prize, donated by Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath.

    Entries: £9.00 each, online only.
    Word limit: 2200.

    We look forward to reading your stories.
    NB. We are not accepting simultaneous submissions this year.Thanks.

    If you would like to read the marvellous winning, commended and shortlisted stories from 2021, the 2021 BSSA Anthology is now available from our publisher, Ad Hoc Fiction and from Amazon in paperback. Digital copies coming later.

    Interview with Paul McVeigh, BSSA 2022 Judge

    photo of Paul McVeigh by John Minihan

    What a pleasure and absolute thrill it is to welcome Paul McVeigh as our 2022 judge. Jude and I first met Paul at the London Short Story Festival which he co-founded and ran. For many years he has been a significant presence on the international literary scene, having made his mark as a playwright, blogger, teacher, interviewer, festival director and acclaimed author. His debut novel The Good Son captured the heartbreak of ‘The Troubles’ with dark humour and poignance, as seen through the eyes of young Mickey Donnelly. It was an instant hit. Widely reviewed and translated, it was nominated for many awards and won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. It was also chosen as Brighton’s City Reads 2016 and given out as part of World Book Night 2017. Paul’s short stories have been published in anthologies and literary magazines and broadcast on BBC Radio 3,4 and 5 and televised on Sky Arts.
    He has taught creative writing across the world from Malaysia to Mexico, throughout Europe and in numerous destinations in the UK, including Bath where he ran a highly successful workshop for us a few years ago. Not to be missed is his blog for writers which posts submission opportunities for journals and competition, gets 40,000 hits a month and has had over 2 million visitors. Paul judges international literary prizes and reviews for The Irish Times, where he has also interviewed authors such as George Saunders and Garth Greenwell. The best place to get to know Paul (unless you bump into him in Belfast where he lives now) is via his website You can also find him on Twitter @paul_mc_veigh Continue reading