Find out in this interview with Marissa Hoffmann, how her prize winning story ‘The Pencil Drawn Girl’ came into being, learn what she likes about writing short fiction and who her favourite short story writers are and get some great advice for writing a short story for a competition. Her winning story is the first one in our 2020 anthology, available from adhocfiction and Amazon in both paperback and digital versions.
Marissa Hoffmann’s fiction won the Bath Flash Fiction Award in 2019 and her stories have been variously podium-placed or listed in international competitions such as Mslexia, FlashBack Fiction, Fish, Flash Frontier’s Micro Madness and Reflex. Her flash stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions, BIFFY 50 and Best Micro Fiction and one of her stories appears on the US Wigleaf Top 50 2020 long list. Read more about Marissa on www.marissahoffmann.com. She is currently working on her first novel. You can follow Marissa @Hoffmannwriter.
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?
Our sixth international short story award is now closed for entries. Thank you very much to everyone who entered the Award this year.
The longlist for BSSA 2018 will be announced in early July, the shortlist a couple of weeks later and the winners and commended in mid August.
For the 2018 Award, we have increased the prizes to:
£1200 first prize
£300 second prize
£100 third prize
£100 for the Acorn Award (for an unpublished writer)
and as usual, £50 in vouchers for the local prize generously donated by Mr B’s Emporium of Books, Bath.
Anthologies from previous years, available to buy here.
How do you create a good title? So much has been written about this. Good ones stay with you for ever. I love Raymond Carver’s famous short story title, which is also the title of one of his collections, “What we talk about when we talk about love.” Gordon Lish, his editor, retitled it “I Am Going to Sit Down.” but thankfully, it was never published in that version.
There’s a fun thing I saw recently somewhere online, which suggested writing bad versions of famous titles of novels and short stories. For example, ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ could be ‘The Fruits of Anger’. Worse, another Steinbeck novel. ‘Of Mice and Men’ could be translated into ‘Of Rodents and Males.”What about ‘Offspring and Their Romantic Partners’? Or ‘Fondness in the Season of the Plague’. Silly, but useful to study the originals and see how they work. Is it the weight of the words, or what they encompass about the book. Is it the rhythm or the length of the title?
Some of the most used titles for short stories are ‘The Gift’, ‘Dust’, ‘Flight’.”Lost and Found’, ‘Memories’, ‘Skin.’ We have had several entries with these titles at Bath Short Story Award. One year we had two stories on the short list titled ‘Flight’. They were good stories, but different titles could have reflected something else in the piece and may have made them even stronger.
Maybe the words in the picture on this post could inspire a short story. Or a title?
So before you send in your entry, check your title. Does it enhance your story? Could you extend or contract it? Is it a cliche or overused? Have fun making title revisions. And remember, we close in two weeks on 1st May.
BSSA team member, Jude, April 2017.