Friday, 31 December 2021

Flash Fiction 101

FlashFiction101 - All stories must be exactly 101 words in length. No more; no less. 

- Each month  judges will decide on a short list and a winner.

- The winner will have their story published online, along with their biography and links to any other work.

- The winning entry of each month will be included in the shortlist for the annual competition in June 2022.

- The winning entries for each quarter will be published in the printed Chiasmus Journal as well as online.

- Entries that are shortlisted will be recognised and published online.

- Entry to the competition is free. Applicants are able to make donations to help continue running FlashFiction101. Donations and entries are not linked and form no part of the judging process.



Entry Deadline: JANUARY 31ST - (Winner Announced February 18th)

Prompt / Genre: Flowers / Romantic Comedy

Entry Deadline: FEBRUARY 28TH - (Winner Announced March 25th)

Prompt: Your character wakes up next to a stranger. 

Entry Deadline: MARCH 31ST - (Winner Announced April 15th)

Prompt: Your character sees something they weren't supposed to.

Entry Deadline: APRIL 30TH - (Winner Announced May 23rd)

Prompt: "Did you see that?"

Entry Deadline: MAY 31ST - (Winner announced June 10th)

Theme: LBGTQ+


Visit the Website for full details

Monday, 27 December 2021

The Shooter Literary Magazine Flash Competition

Run on a rolling basis, with 1 story being published on the second Monday of each month.

Flash fiction and nonfiction in any theme or genre.

Prize: £50 and inclusion in an annual anthology.

Word count: 1,000 maximum.

Entry fee: £3


British Book Awards - Crime & Thriller

Crime & Thriller Book of the Year

Previously called the Crime Thriller of the Year. 

Name changed to Thriller & Crime Novel of the Year in 2011. 

Name changed to Crime & Thriller Book of the Year in 2017.

2022 - The Dark Remains - Ian Rankin

2021 - Troubled Blood - JK Rowling

2020 – My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

2019 – Our House – Louise Candlish

2018 – The Dry – Jane Harper

2017 – Dodgers – Bill Beverly

2015–2016 – (no award)

2014 – I Am Pilgrim – Terry Hayes

2013 – The Carrier – Sophie Hannah 

2012 – A Wanted Man – Lee Child

2011 – Before I Go to Sleep – S. J. Watson

2010 – (no award)

2009 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

2008 – Book of the Dead – Patricia Cornwell 

2007 – The Naming of the Dead – Ian Rankin 

2006 – The Take – Martina Cole 

2005 – Fleshmarket Close – Ian Rankin 

British Book Awards - Fiction

Fiction Book of the Year

Previously called Popular Fiction Award. 

Name changed to Popular Fiction Book of the Year in 2010. 

Name changed to Fiction Book of the Year in 2017.

2022 - Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

2021 - Hamnet - Maggie O'Farrell

2020 – Girl, Woman, Other – Bernardine Evaristo

2019 – Normal People – Sally Rooney

2018 – Reservoir 13 – Jon McGregor

2017 – The Essex Serpent – Sarah Perry

2015-2016 – (no award)

2014 – The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

2013 – An Officer and a Spy – Robert Harris

2012 – Fifty Shades of Grey – E. L. James

2011 – A Tiny Bit Marvellous – Dawn French

2010 – One Day – David Nicholls

2009 – Devil May Care – Sebastian Faulks 

2008 – The Memory Keeper's Daughter – Kim Edwards 

2006 – Anybody Out There – Marian Keyes 

2006 – The Time Traveler's Wife – Audrey Niffenegger 

Monday, 20 December 2021

Wellcome Book Prize - Paused

The Wellcome Book Prize is on pause. 

There will not be a Book Prize for 2021-22

Visit Website

Sunday, 5 December 2021

Show Don't Tell - What it Means

This is probably the least understood phrase for new writers – probably because it seems to go against logic. Writers tell stories right? No. Good writers show stories.

To me there’s really only one thing you need to remember when it comes to showing your stories, and that is a quote from Graham Masterton. He said:

Don’t tell your story. Be there.”

Basically, it doesn’t matter how good your writing is. If you’re telling the story you are distancing your reader from it. Here’s an example of telling:

Jason knew he had to go to the Dentist. His teeth hurt so much that he told his mother about it. She suggested he call Dr Evans, a man who had looked after the family’s teeth for years. He made the call and arranged to be at Dr Evans surgery at three o clock. That would give him plenty of time to do a few errands – and be back in time for tea.

This is completely passive because the information is being related from the omniscient, non-personal viewpoint. In order to ‘show’ the story you need to become the character of Jason – and get him to relate the story, unfolding it in real time. Like this.

Jason woke at seven thirty. His jaw felt as though someone had kicked it during the night. He poked his tongue around a sensitive area in his mouth. Ouch. It felt almost raw. He got up and trundled down the stairs to breakfast.

“My goodness, Jason, you look awful,” his mother said. “What on earth is the matter?”

“My tooth hurts something terrible, Mum.” Jason used a finger to prod around the interior of his mouth. He squinted.

“Call Dr Evans. He’ll know what to do. Go on, call him now.”

Jason picked up the phone and dialled a number on the refrigerator door.

“Hello? I’d like to make an appointment…"

And so on.

Showing is achieved by taking each story event and relating it as though it were a scene in a movie. Instead of merely telling the reader what action and drama took place, you need to put yourself in the scene and explain what the characters are experiencing – as the story unfolds.

You do this with dialogue and being specific about emotions like pain, sorrow, love, whatever. Instead of saying ‘he felt pain’, you need to say where the pain is and of what type. Making bland generalizations about a character’s motivation is not enough.

Your reader wants specifics – they want to feel as though they’re actually inside the head of the characters – experiencing their world, their thoughts and their emotions.

Whenever you look at your writing, ask yourself. Is this telling, or showing?

Imagine that you have to explain to a film or TV director what you need to get a particular scene across. The easiest way to do that is to show him. You would first show him the location, the characters inhabiting that space and then write down the necessary dialogue.

If you copy this same technique to use in novel and short story writing, you won’t go far wrong.

Of course some exposition and telling is good for pacing – you can’t have your book reading exactly like a screenplay after all. However, you should be aiming for a balance of 5 to 1. Show four fifths of the time and tell just one fifth.

As an exercise – indeed as any editing process – you need to look at every sentence you write and try re-writing it – deliberately tightening it. Remember, nothing is sacred, no matter how well written.

If you can create more scenes that show rather than tell, your writing will always work better for a reader.

Gone are the days when authors can bore their readers with long passages of exposition and passive prose.

Shame really – it’s much easier to write like that!

Showing requires discipline – and going that extra mile.

The good part is that publishers and readers reward you for doing that work – by buying more of your books!

Keep Writing!

© Rob Parnell

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Cranked Anvil Short Story Competition

Quarterly short story competition

Deadlines: 31st January, 30th April, 31st July, 31st October

Open to any theme or genre

Maximum of 1,500 words (not including the title).

Entry fees: £5 for 1 entry; £8 for 2 entries; £10 for 3 entries.

Prizes: £150, £75, £30

The top three stories from each quarter will be published on the Cranked Anvil website