News

Local Prize Winner, Chloe Turner, at Mr B’s Bookshop, Bath

Local Prize winner from our 2018 BSSA Award, Chloe Turner, was presented with her prize of book vouchers donated by Mr B’s Emporium of Books at the bookshop last week. It’s the second year in a row that Chloe, who lives near Stroud, in Gloucestershire has won the prize. This year it was for her wonderful story ‘Witches Sail in Eggshells’. Here she is with Ed, from the bookshop having  received her voucher, our card and a celebratory bottle. Continue reading

BSSA 2018 Award Round-Up

Thank you very much to everyone who entered the 2018 International Bath Short Story Award. This year we received 1100 entries from thirty-four countries. Our team of ten initial readers enjoyed reading your entries and it was, as always, tough selecting the final fifty stories from a strong field. Authors from Australia, Canada, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and the UK are represented on the longlist and many different themes and subject matters are covered – including, this year, the effects of climate change and world politics, along with dystopian futures, relationships between family, friends and lovers, dysfunctional and otherwise. Such themes were widespread throughout all the entries and it is interesting to have different cultural takes on this mix. Continue reading

Shortlisted authors, BSSA 2018

Our shortlisted writers, who will be published in the BSSA anthology 2018, along with the winning and commended writers, are listed below in alphabetical order. Congratulations to all. We’re excited that all these wonderful stories are going to be in print in the autumn. Shortlist judge, Euan Thorneycroft made the following comments about the shortlist:

“You never know what you are going to get when judging a short story competition – but you know that it’s more than likely going to be diverse. The shortlist didn’t disappoint. I was taken from the UK to Australia with detours to the Middle East, Japan and North America. And I was plunged into the lives of different characters dealing with a variety of emotions — grief, disappointment, anger and guilt to name a few. The writing was of a high standard throughout and every one of these stories had things to commend them”. Continue reading

BSSA 2018 Winners

We’re delighted to announce the winners and commended writers for Bath Short Story Award, 2018. Congratulations to all seven writers and many thanks to our shortlist judge, Euan Thorneycroft, Senior Literary Agent from A M Heath literary agency, for selecting the winning stories and for his comments. You can also read his general comments on the short list here. All the winning and the shortlisted stories will be published in our sixth BSSA anthology which will be available for sale on this website and elsewhere in the Autumn. Continue reading

Your BSSA 2018 short story entry — final checks and balances

There are just eleven days to go before our £1750 prize fund award closes at midnight BST on Monday 23rd April. If you are thinking of entering your up to 2200 word story, check the following and make your story stand out from the crowd.
Think about your title. In 2015, Clarke’s World, one of the great SF/F literary magazines,  reached 50,000 submissions and editor Neil Clarke decided to run an analysis to see what the most common titles were. Here are the fifteen titles which were most frequently submitted to the magazine:

Dust, The Gift, Home, Hunger, Homecoming,The Box, Monsters, Lost and Found, Sacrifice,The Hunt, Flight, Heartless, The End, Alone, Legacy

A  post on Electric Literature referring to this article is worth a read.
We’ve also seen many stories with these titles and similar ones in all the six years of the competition. And we’ve read a few very good stories with such titles, which have been long or short-listed– but if you want to draw those first readers in, find a more arresting one that adds a further level to your piece.

You can also look at how your title relates to the first paragraph of your story. The beginning of the 2017 winning story by Kathy Stevens, pictured here, is a good example of this. The first paragraph complements the title and suggests the different personalities in the family and the conflicts between them. This whole first page shows a character with a strong voice who makes funny and astute observations.The voice and the humour were some of the things our short story judge, Euan Thorneycroft, who is judging again this year, particularly liked about the story. Nothing is wasted in this opening. We are straight into the situation at home and want to know what happens next.

Finally, is your story balanced? Does the ending balance the beginning, so that it ties up in a satisfying way. Satisfying does not usually mean a neat ending. In Kathy’s story, we don’t know exactly what will happen to the character after the end line, but the ending provokes further questions which are connected to the family dynamic that is set up at the beginning.

Remember to check the rules for the competition as a last thing. We always receive entries with the author’s name on the piece which means immediate disqualification as stories are judged anonymously. We always receive entries that are hundreds or even thousands of words too long.

We appreciate everyone who enters and supports the Award. Our filter readers are already on the case and are enjoying reading through the first batches. Good luck to all.

BSSA team member, Jude Higgins, April 12th 2018.

Anne O’Brien, BSSA 2016 winner — what happened next

Anne O’Brien won first prize in the 2016 Bath Short Story Award judged by Radio 4 Bristol producer, Mair Bosworth. You can read Anne’s winning story, ‘Feather Your Nest’ in our 2016 BSSA anthology available to buy here. We’ve just heard the fantastic news that another of her stories, Taking Flight, has been translated into Vietnamese by award winning writer and translator Nguyen Phan Que Mai and is the title story of this anthology, which in Vietnamese is Bay Len. Other translated writers in the book include Margaret Atwood, Sara Maitland and Junot Diaz and also Helen Rye, whose story ‘One in Twenty-Three’ won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in October, 2016.  All proceeds from the book will go to support the education of poor children in Vietnam.

Anne said her 2016 first prize BSSA win was a real turning point for her ” I’ll never forget the phone call and shouting out ‘but I never win!’ Reading in Mr. B’s and seeing my story in such a beautiful book was an endorsement like no other. I had a a lovely evening with the BSSA  team and others whose stories appear in the same anthology. It was the first time I felt what it was like to be a writer among writers! I began to believe that perhaps people would want to read my stories. Since then I’ve had a number of long/shortlistings, I also came second in the 2016 London Magazine Short Story Competition  and they published my story in June, 2017. I have been chosen as February 2018’s Hennessy New Irish Writer and Who Is The Fairest Of Them All was published in The Irish Times a few weeks ago. I also have some more good news on the way but I’m not allowed say anything about that yet.”

We look forward to hearing about Anne’s next success!

The 2018 BSSA short story award for short stories up to 2200 words closes for entries on 23rd April. The first prize is now £1200. Do enter. Who knows what might happen next?

What’s it all about?

Have you written a short story draft for our 2018 BSSA Award?  It closes on 23rd April so there is still time to stand back and ask yourself some questions about it. We suggest you ponder this  quote from an article  by short story writer and novelist Tessa Hadley first published last year. Read the whole article and also search on the internet for the many other articles on the short story she has written. Her advice is invaluable.

‘Think about intensity – you only have a small amount of space, so you mustn’t waste it. You need to pick on something really burning. Even if you’re writing a simple story without any big revelations, you have to have a point. It has to mean something. It has to add up to something.

Sometimes I do read apprentice writers and I think it’s all very vivid with lovely sentences, but why are you telling it us, what are we to take away? You should be telling the story for a reason. It should reveal something to the reader, who will think, yes, that’s how things are, and it will feel like a surprise.’

Another tip from the BSSA team —  don’t forget that  you need a good title to help suggest what your story is about.  it doesn’t have to be fancy –‘Rob Roy’ is probably the one simple title in this dated selection that has lasted the course. But your title does need to relate strongly to the story.  And if it gains the interest of an initial reader you’ve made the first step towards being a winner.

Message from Adelaide

Mara on the left, Bridgitte on the right

Amazingly, two of our BSSA 2017 Award short-listed writers, Bridgitte Cummings who wrote ‘Hollow’ and Mara Blazic who wrote ‘Bionic girl’,  live in Adelaide, Australia. While we struggled at the end of winter in the UK  with a plunge in temperatures and the biggest snow fall for years, the temperature in Adelaide soared to over 45 degrees in January, the end of their summer. As soon as it was slightly cooler Mara and Bridgitte met up, took some photographs with the anthology and compared notes. Mara summarises their meeting —

“Adelaide is the driest city in the driest state in the driest continent on earth. So where else to meet but the beach! We had coffee where Geoffrey Rush filmed one of his scenes for the Oscar-winning ‘Shine’. We caught up on a) our writing projects: Bridgitte’s written her first novel, Mara hasn’t b) Adelaide: Bridgitte’s been living in Adelaide for a few years, Mara’s been living here too long and c) hair: Bridgitte’s been to the stylist for this photo-shoot and Mara’s wishing she had too”

To read Mara and Bridgitte’s short stories you can buy our 2017 anthology here. There’s six weeks left to complete a story of up to 2200 for the 2018 Award which closes at midnight on 23rd April. Enter here.

Stories from writers from around the globe in all genres and on all subjects and themes are welcome  — climate change could be one of them

Toss out a story for Pancake Day

Its Shrove Tuesday, today, 13th February, 2018. The day is also known in many countries as Pancake Tuesday, or Pancake Day  and is  the day in February or March immediately preceeding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent). It’s celebrated in some countries by eating pancakes and is a carnival day — Mardi Gras  — in other countries. You could use any of these facts as prompts for a short story. People feasting, people partying, people preparing for a long fast. Conflict, gluttony, celebration can all play their part. Anton Chekhov wrote a story called Shrove Tuesday, so you would be following the example of a master of the short story form.

This year’s Bath Short Story Award  with its £1200 first prize ends 23rd April. So plenty of time to cook up your up to 2200 word short story, and toss it around a bit before its ready.