Just under 1000 entries were submitted to the 2022 Award and we thank our dedicated and enthusiastic group of initial readers for helping the team arrive at a longlist of fifty. From there it was a difficult task for us to find the shortlist of twenty brilliant stories which we sent to our final judge, writer, editor and teacher, Paul McVeigh Thank you very much to him for making his selections and for his comments below. The BSSA team’s comments on the stories selected for The Acorn Award for an unpublished writer of fiction and The Local Prize are also included at the end of Paul’s report. We’re looking forward to reading all the winning and shortlisted stories in print in our ninth paperback anthology, which will be launched in November, 2022. Continue reading
Huge congratulations to all our winning and commended writers in the International Bath Short Story Award, 2022. The winning and commended stories were selected by our judge, writer, editor and writing teacher, Paul McVeigh and the Local and Acorn Award prizes were chosen by the BSSA team. Read the comments on the stories in our judges’ report. These winning stories, along with all the other brilliant shortlisted stories, will be published in our ninth anthology, to be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in November 2022.
Congratulations to all the BSSA 2022 shortlisted writers, listed here in alphabetical order. In his general remarks, our shortlist judge Paul McVeigh said:
“The 2022 shortlist was strong. It speaks to the reputation of the Bath Short Story Prize that the stories had such variety in genre, plot and style with impressive quality and I very much enjoyed reading them.”
|2021 Bath Short Story Award Long List|
|Acts of love on the 17.22 from Bristol Temple Meads||tba|
|All That Remains is Hope||tba|
|After the Good Shepherd’s Laundry, Buffalo||tba|
|A Good Night||tba|
|Becoming a Ninja||tba|
|Bird of Paradise||tba|
|Cock o’The North||tba|
|Don’t Step on the Cracks||tba|
|Extending the Olive Branch||tba|
|His Last Mandolin||tba|
|I Can’t Hear You||tba|
|Knowing the Enemy||tba|
|Looking for Anna||tba|
|My friend Jake||tba|
|Nine Storeys High||tba|
|Nobody believes a woman named Joanne||tba|
|Polbo á Feira||tba|
|Raju and the Tiger||tba|
|Sophia Goes Bowling at 3.AM||tba|
|Still Life With Lemon||tba|
|The Ant House||tba|
|The Census Worker||tba|
|The Ghosts That Dance Between Us||tba|
|The Greenland Shark||tba|
|The Making of Koupepia||tba|
|The Neverending Picnic||tba|
|The Omiyage Maker of Yamanashi||tba|
|The Top Road||tba|
|The Vocabulary Builder of Utopia Gardens||tba|
|We are nothing more than birds||tba|
|Yellow Rose Fever||tba|
As we enter the final hours of our 2022 competition, it’s time to repost the advice of Kurt Vonnegut!
– Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
– Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
– Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
– Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
– Start as close to the end as possible.
– Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
– Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
– Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
But for every rule (well, almost every rule) there is an exception. “The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor,” writes Vonnegut. “She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”
For those last minute writers thinking of entering our 9th award, I’m going to stretch metaphor to its limits and ask you to get under the bonnet of your story.
Yes, if your story was a car, you need to undertake some maintenance before it sets off on its extensive journey via our BSSA readers and hopefully to a winning destination. Continue reading
In just TWO weeks we close – on Monday, April 11th. There’s still time to write a story from scratch, redraft, edit and do the final tweaks so, if you’re at the starting blocks and still searching for inspiration, look no further than Christopher Fielden. Over the years he’s provided many resources for writers and there are some excellent story starters here .Writing the first draft of a flash might feel like a 100 meter sprint, with a novel akin to a marathon. BSSA has a limit of 2,200 words so possibly a middle distance 800 meters with a few hurdles thrown in? But, whatever the length, the start of a race or the opening of a story is vital in grabbling attention and setting the pace for what’s to follow. Continue reading
Start before you’re ready. (Steven Pressfield)
In terms of writing, I think this is excellent advice. Do you wait for the perfect time, or place, or circumstance, thinking that once all your ducks are in a row, THEN you will write the perfect story? I do, especially when my confidence is low and/or the world is overwhelming (ok, nearly all the time). So, if the neighbour’s dog is driving me crazy (he doesn’t, he’s lovely, but some days I can’t filter out the occasional barking) I blame that for the fact my writing feels rubbish and I didn’t meet my goals or start the story that’s in my head or finish the one I began a few weeks ago. And the more excuses I find, the less inclined I am to sit down and write. I go downhill fast, lose a day, a few days, a week or two. Oh no! I’m a failure, but how can I be expected to be a creative genius in these (insert your own bugbears) conditions? Sound familiar? If not, well done! If yes, read on 🙂 Continue reading
We like to hear about previous prize winners’ successes. Hilary Taylor won third prize in BSSA 2018 with her story ‘Sea Defences’ and her story is published in our BSSA 2018 anthology. In this interview she tells us how she extended this prize winning short fiction into a novel with the same title, which will be published by Lightning Press on January 15th 2023. Congratulations Hilary! We also learn how she discovered her short story ‘Sea Defences’ online, analysed for an exam syllabus. A multi-genre writer, Hilary was recently a winner in the Flash 500 flash fiction contest and there’s a link to the story for you to read. She’s also given great advice for editing final short story drafts if you are thinking of entering this year’s Award.
Hilary Taylor grew up in Suffolk and Hampshire, and is a graduate of Edinburgh University. She lives in Suffolk, where she taught for almost twenty years, and now writes, reads, has serial arty-crafty obsessions (paper-making, marbling, wool-felting), and goes for long walks before breakfast. She has five grown-up children, and, at the last count, eight grandchildren. Her short fiction has won or been listed in competitions, including the Bridport Prize, Bare Fiction, the Bath Short Story Award and Flash500, and has been published in magazines and anthologies. Sea Defences is her first novel (although of course there are previous ones ‘in a drawer’, where they should probably stay.) You can find her on twitter @hilarytaylor00 Continue reading