Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Short Story Competition

Category: Fiction - Short Story  

No set theme or subject matter, write what you like to write!

Words: 1000-2000

Opens: 22nd June at 8am (UK time)

Closes: 21st July at 8pm (UK time)

Winner announced: 31st July

Entry Fee: Free

First Prize: £30 + Publication

Second Prize: £10 + Publication

Third Prize: £10 + Publication

5 Runners-Up: Publication

Winning stories & Runners-up will be published in the Slingink Magazine

NEW TO SLINGINK?

PLEASE READ THE FULL DETAILS OF SLINGINK COMPETITIONS BEFORE SUBMITTING

Ready to send your entry?

Maximum of 3 entries per writer, per month.

CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Write From The Heart

Write from the heart - that's all you really need to do.

Never try to second guess the market or try to be clever with your audience - or those who would help you achieve your aims.

Be true to yourself and be honest with your readers - because that's the only way to create anything of value and to sustain an artistic career of any kind.

It's easy to get fooled by the system into thinking that you work to get paid, therefore you can write anything for money - but it doesn't really work like that.

Not with art anyway. Not with anything creative.

Creativity requires more than just turning up and punching the clock.

Writing, painting, sculpting, playing an instrument, making movies, anything that requires personal expression, needs a soul at work.

Your soul - your time and passion and commitment.

That's what creativity of any kind demands:

YOU.

It's intimidating, sure, when you see so much finished stuff around - you know, finished books, completed movies, and mastered songs that just glow with semi-perfection - all neatly packaged and oozing confidence and, well, some kind of stature.

And all available for sale...

It's hard when you want to be one of those people who has a book out there or a song or a film - and you know you haven't even started or worse actually, you're half way through something that feels like it's never going to be completed let alone recognized and available as a finished product.

It can be extra intimidating to see so many people with finished products who are social networking constantly - trying to get themselves and their own books, films and music seen and taken seriously.

Especially when on the same page some fabulously famous people are doing exactly the same - and they have the fame, the kudos and the riches to do it well!

How can you possibly compete in a world where just about everyone is shouting, "Look at me, look at me!"

Thing is, it's not about competing.

It's just about being there - and being yourself and being honest.

People might criticize you (but actually they rarely do).

Most likely people might appear to ignore you.

But that's okay too.

How many times have you seen people online and not said anything - just stored away their image or their 'thing' in your brain and moved on?

That's pretty much what everyone else is doing.

They may never contact you or involve themselves with you but they know you're there.

And there is just where you need to be.

You gotta be in it to win it, as they saying goes.

That doesn't mean you spout bollocks all day though.

People respond best to sincerity.

Consistent sincerity - the kind you can't fake.

Do what you do, feel what you feel, and write what you write...

Love what you do and do what you love.

And get it out there.

And the world, my friend, will know.

Trust in yourself and your dreams.

And write from your heart.

Till next time.

Keep writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

Monday, 20 June 2022

Fiction Editing

Fiction editing requires a totally different group of skills than your solid foundation of English language expertise. Editing fiction requires expertise that is seldom innate. No matter how good your grammar expertise might be; instead, you’ll have to study what it is to write fiction, and also what it is to publish fiction. If you need to become fiction editor, seek out fiction producing and fiction editing training. Googling “how exactly to create fiction” or “how exactly to edit fiction” should offer you enough material as a starting point to learn and research for several weeks.

Similarly, editing memoirs, for which presently there is a huge market for, requires specific editorial skills. Memoir editing isn’t unlike fiction editing, for the reason that it requires the advancement of an intriguing story line, frequently partially fictionalized , whether it’s chronological or not. Research your options thoroughly if that is a genre you intend to pursue.

You couldn’t choose a better target time to become freelance editor. Self-publishing has turned into a huge and genuine market, no longer stigmatized by the words “vanity publishing.” Right from the start the discipline of indie publishing is growing, I dare say, exponentially. Research and find out about this niche. In general, it’s an astoundingly good time to enter this business.

Yes, it’s a real goal oriented job, but there’s a good caveat. Don’t imagine for another moment that editing is not fun. It’s quite interesting to deal with literature all day, although sometimes it really is a challenge. It’s mostly about reading, examining, and critiquing poor or worse, sometimes incredibly bad writing. It’s frequently on subjects you may never be thinking about. If you increase your reading and writing as a result it’s captivating for you to learn more about foreign subjects. Trying to decipher somebody else’s poor composing and adapting to their design, or adding some design if none is obvious, is exceedingly difficult, and surely puts the mind to work. And sometimes it could be all about fact checking or formatting footnotes and reference lists and bibliographies effectively, which requires another very different expertise, usually employing either Chicago, APA, or MLA styles.

Whatever else it might be, freelance editing isn’t a hobby job. It’s not at all something you can merely start doing because it appears like a simple method to improve your income. Learning to be a professional freelance editor necessitates as a lot of experience and real life education. Do not pass up chances to upgrade your expertise by attending conferences, taking courses, reading greatly, and joining discussion forums with your colleagues.

If that is a career path that interests you, you’ll have to have a love for English words and for dealing with the written expression. Passion is certainly key to this line of work. The very best freelance editors have great passion for this work. Nevertheless, you probably do as well, or you wouldn’t end up reading this. In the event that you think freelance editing may be the right profession for you, I wish for you all of the best in your trip to becoming an editor.

© Brian J White

Sunday, 19 June 2022

How To Write Engaging Fiction

This is a question every writer or new writer has asked themselves from time to time. How to write fiction that people will not only want to read, but enjoy and remember a long time after they have finished the book.

This article although aimed at novels can easily be applied to short stories.

The first thing to appreciate when constructing engaging fiction is to start with a strong main character or protagonist. You want your main character to stand out and be able to carry your story right through to the end. This is even more important for longer fiction as you obviously have to engage the attention of your readers for longer.

What makes a memorable character can be many things. Unusual physical appearance can help such as for example, a very tall man who has a lot of tattoos and a bald head. However, it is the personality of your main character that will stay in the minds of your readers more. Readers want to be able to identify with your main protagonist or at least sympathize and root for them when they are presented with obstacles or opposition.

Your main character does not have to be perfect by any means, but they have to be likable, appealing and believable. They need to seem almost real. Even if your main character has many flaws, their good points should still outweigh them.

Another aspect to bear in mind when writing engaging fiction is your plot. Good fiction should contain conflict, that is, a hurdle or obstacle that your main character needs to overcome in order to achieve what they want. It would be very difficult to write engaging fiction without a strong plot. Regardless of the genre you are writing in, the same rule applies.

A good plot should aim to grab the reader's attention from the beginning of the book and should contain sufficient tension and cliff-hangers. This is especially true when writing thrillers or crime fiction. When writing engaging fiction the plot should not be predictable but should keep your readers intrigued until the end. However, even if you are writing romance fiction for instance, the plot should not be obvious. It could even include a credible twist.

Your style of narration is another way to write engaging fiction. Third person narrative is popular for good reason. It allows you to follow the thoughts and view the world of all your characters both major and minor. Third person narrative also assists with plot as you can better understand the actions and motivations of the antagonist, for example.

By contrast first person narrative although restricted to your main character has the added advantage of you seeing the story unfold closely through the eyes of your main protagonist. This intimate view of storytelling can add excitement and tension, thus making writing more thrilling.

Finally, the time span of your book or short story can make your work more compelling. Obviously, the shorter the time span, then the more tense your story is going to be, again very useful for thriller writing. However, a longer time span will allow you to include more details thus creating vivid memorable fiction.

© S P Wilson

Sharon Wilson is an aspiring writer who is serious and passionate about the art and craft of creative writing. She has undertaken several courses in this field and has gained extensive knowledge of writing novels and short stories. Sharon has a keen interest in poetry and is an avid reader. Her blog is dedicated to all writers, especially the new writer: https://sharonswriterstidbits.wordpress.com/

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Creativity: Why Bother? 10 Benefits of Expressing Your Creativity

As a child, you may have yearned to play the piano professionally, to act on Broadway, to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Perhaps you mentioned your aspirations to someone and were met with laughter or the assurance that there was no money in it. You swallowed your creative dreams and satisfied yourself with listening to music on the radio, to reading books or watching movies. How often have our creative selves been swept to the sidelines, to being the observer? We internalize the belief that we don’t have what it takes to make it big, and of course we don’t because we have hardly tried.
It's time to go for it. There is no proof that you will get rich, famous, or even produce anything worthwhile. Ignoring this urge to create isn’t making it go away. More and more people are heeding the call from within themselves to act upon their creative urges. We sense that there is something behind this creative urge, that expressing ourselves creatively may be the missing piece to a fulfilled life.
Creative expression, whether through mundane means or through art, is worth the effort. I have seen the difference in my clients’ lives when they are expressing themselves. Here is a list of benefits of expressing creativity that you too, can have. Added up, they can amount to a richer life.

1. Expanded sense of time. Countless artists have discussed the experience of timelessness that one encounters in the creative zone. Time is limitless when you are in the creative ‘zone.’ Strangely enough, when you give time to creative pursuits, you gain time. Who couldn’t use the feeling of more time?

2. Freedom. Creativity invites messiness and exploration. Here’s an opportunity to return to that feeling of being a child, to not know, to not be ‘good’, smart, the expert.

3. Enhanced relationships. Many people fear that if they begin living their creativity, then their relationships and other priorities will suffer. They won’t want to drag themselves away from the creative zone. However, when we are actively creating, we feel better about our relationships. We tend to be more generous to others. We have more to give because we have answered our urge to create.

4. Living integrity. When we are actively working on our projects, we honor our innate creativity. We live the belief that creativity does matter. This feels better than wishing we were writing, or talking about writing, but not doing it.

5. Save money. Expressing yourself can control the urge to impulse buy. Do you ever find yourself shopping just for something to do? Expressing yourself creatively can often fill the need to shop for the heck of it. Save money and do something creative instead of buying something you don’t really need or want.

6. Energetic, lighter quality to life. Call it a good mood. Call it a natural high. When we’ve done our creative work, we gain energy for our other responsibilities.

7. Connection with other creative people. When we are creating, we are connected to all of those who have gone before us and those who work now in the challenging but rewarding field of artistic creativity. What a gift in a world where we feel more and more isolated from each other.

8. Faith and confidence in our impulses. When we create, we recognize that our work does matter even if it is not published, displayed or presented to the public. We trust our instincts and gain confidence from expressing them. This confidence carries over into decisions we make in other areas of life.

9. Honoring the source of creative ideas. Where does creative inspiration come from? Some think it is God, or other divine source. We honor the gift of creative inspiration when we listen and act on our ideas, and by doing so, we are connecting to a deeper wisdom than our own.

10. Self-knowledge and discovery. Creativity is the route to authenticity. As we create, we plumb the depths of our being, accessing what we think and believe. You may be surprised at the resources, thoughts and impulses that you discover there.

These ten benefits do add up to more fulfillment and balance in life. I invite you to create a plan to match your creative vision. Give yourself the time and space to be a beginner. Write to me and let me know what benefits you have experienced. Have fun!

© Cynthia Morris is the author of Create Your Writer’s Life and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach. Visit her web site to find out more about a creative life at http://www.originalimpulse.com

Friday, 17 June 2022

Poppy Z. Brite

"If you're a freelance writer and aren't used to being ignored, neglected, and generally given short shrift, you must not have been in the business very long."

"I don't think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it's one of those things for which there aren't really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible."

"I got to thinking about the point in every freelancer's life where he has to decide whether he wants to A, have a social life, and do art in his spare time, or B, do art, and have a social life in his spare time. It has always seemed to me that if you have any hope of making a living as an artist – writer, musician, whatever – you absolutely must learn to tell people to leave you alone, and to mean it, and to eject them from your life if they don't respect that. This is necessary not because your job is more important than anyone else's – it isn't – but because a great many people will think of you as not having a job. 'Oh, how wonderful – you can work whenever you want to!' Well, yes, to a point, but generally 'whenever you want to' had better be most of the time, or else you won't have a roof over your head."

"Young writers shouldn't be afraid of striving to emulate their favourites. It's a good way to learn, as long as you move on from it and don't publish too many of the results."

"If you find yourself imitating another writer, that doesn't have to be a bad thing, especially if you are a young or a new writer. However, you should be conscious of exactly how you are imitating him - word choice, sentence structure, motifs? - and think about why you're doing it."

Writing Competitions

If you are looking for writing contests, here's four links that list all kinds of writing contests on their website...

PRIZE MAGIC

CHRISTOPHER FIELDEN

CREATIVE WRITING INK

FIRST WRITER


Make Time to Write: Overcome Your Excuses

After a full day of work, family and life, you fall into bed exhausted. Mentally ticking off your to-do list, you cycle through shopping lists, phone calls, and appointments, feeling good about what you have gotten done, until you get to the thing you really want to do. You lay there, bathed in regret – why didn’t you get your writing done today? You vow to do it tomorrow. You will make time for your novel or that article you know would sell. You consider angles, write a few lines in your head, and fired up with enthusiasm for your writing, you fall asleep. The next day continues on much like the one before and you live the life of an unfulfilled writer, all because you do not do the simple work of making time to write.
As a coach, I have worked with many writers who claim lack of time as their number one excuse for not writing. But I have discovered that there are a number of other reasons that make it easy to put off our writing. When you do find time to write, these other demons loom up to prevent you from doing the work. I ask my clients questions to help them understand their process. Use the questions below to help you discover what is behind your time excuse. When you take some time before writing to gain clarity on what is true for you, that you are able to accomplish your writing more quickly.
Often “lack of time” is a mask for fears. The work of writing, while satisfying, can be difficult to make time for. We put it off to do the easier things, the things we know how to do. Think about the things you do when you are procrastinating getting to the writing. Do you clean, cook, or exercise? Do you spend your valuable writing time reading or watching TV? The act of writing challenges us to dive into ourselves and come out with something tangible. This kind of work can leave us vulnerable to our fears that we are not good enough, not talented enough, don’t have anything to say and are likely to be rejected.
What is scary for you about writing? Jot down some of your fears. Then look and see how true they really are. Often when we expose our fears on paper, they lose their power over us. Notice when you are resisting and when you truthfully do not have time to write. Be honest with yourself and learn to identify how it feels when you are resisting.
Many creative types struggle with time management. We may have enough time but do not use it in a way that honors our priorities. What are your priorities? If you are not showing up for your writing, maybe it isn’t that important. What else is going on in your life that is more compelling than writing? Take a moment now to jot down where you spend your time. What do you notice about what is important to you?
Once you have a clear picture of where your time goes, how do you feel about it? Does the way you spend your time reflect what is important to you? Work and other obligations seem more fixed and indeed they may be for now, but where else can you make decisions to get writing into your life? What is one thing you could change this week to make more space for writing?
Don’t forget that you have choices. There are a limited number of hours in the day, but often we give away our passion and power by forgetting that we can choose what to do with our time. I can hear you saying, “Well, I have my job, and then I have my family, and kids, and all these other obligations.” Certainly you have other commitments that you need to honor. But your roles become more powerful than you are when you believe you have no choice in the matter.
Often we get stuck in one way of thinking, and that becomes our reality. Try playing with different perspectives. With the help of a perspective shift, you may realize that your writing has a place, too. Perhaps in your mind it has been important, but you haven’t taken that extra step to actually make space for it. Without space, your writing becomes a burden on your back, something you want to do but can’t. You then become a victim of your life, secretly resenting those who get to do what they want. What would life be like if your passions had a place in your schedule? What difference would it make to the people in your life if you staked a claim for your writing?
Reframe the way you think about the writing itself. The art of writing is work, but if you think of it as drudgery and something that requires a lot of you, you are missing out on the rejuvenating aspects of the practice. Whenever you do get a chance to write, take a minute when you are finished and write down three words that describe how you feel after writing. Use these words as a lure to get you to the page when you feel tired or uninspired.
Vague plans can work against you. If you have the intention to sit down and write, but don’t have something specific to work on, it can be easy to shrug off your writing time. Pick a specific starting point and let that pull you into the flow.
When what you are writing isn’t seductive enough, take a look at the project. How can you approach your project in a way that would entice you to make time for it? What is fresh or new about your writing?
Try a tool I use with my clients. Imagine giving up writing, and the idea of writing. If the thought of losing your writing makes you want to grab onto it even tighter, it could be a signal that you need to do what it takes to make writing a priority in your life. I call this ‘taking away the bone.’ Imagine trying to grab the bone from the dog’s mouth. The dog will hang onto that bone for dear life. Are you that committed to your writing that you will do what it takes to make it happen?
Give yourself the space and time to answer these questions about your writing life. Use them to be honest about what holds you back. Then make the effort to dip into your writing when and where you can. Commit to yourself as a writer, get clear about your writing projects, and let it happen. Enjoy the process!

© Cynthia Morris is the author of “Create Your Writer’s Life: A Guide to Writing with Joy and Ease”. She coaches writers of all levels to help them achieve their writing dreams. Visit her web site at http://www.originalimpulse.com to find out more about creating your writing life today.

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Number One Killer Of Could-Have-Been Success Stories

Fear.

Everything in this world has its opposite.

Good has bad.
Optimism has pessimism
Positive has negative.
Success has failure.

If fear of failure rears its ugly head now and then as you set up your business, what it’s doing is pausing your progress.

Sure you might spend a day or two thinking, ‘what am I doing!’ but you get over it and continue. But that’s no good.

This ongoing temporary fear of failure keeps on blocking the creative tunnels of your mind. When you feel down in the dumps your mind is closed. It’s not free to grasp the possibilities and within them bring back ideas.

Every time your mind stops to think, ‘What am I doing!’ it also stops you from savoring every moment you spend building your business.

And if this fear of failure sits at the edge of your mind, the only thing it’s doing is waiting to resurface. If you allow it to reach its climax, you can be sure that this fear will stop your progress dead in its tracks.

Look at Success. Now look at Failure.

Do you want to succeed? Or Do you want to fail?

You want to succeed of course, so why focus on failure? Why allow it to occupy your mind, even if it’s now and then?

It’s what you choose to concentrate on which will bring you the end result. Concentrate on success and don’t allow anything to block the feeling of success from occupying the only spot in your mind.

Failure is not an option because it’s not the option we want. It’s not included in our plans. And anything not included in our plans shouldn’t be there occupying our thoughts.

Eliminate the idea that you will fail and install the one that you will succeed. Because that’s what you are going to do.

Install the firm belief that you will make it and keep your purpose in mind. Nothing else matters but IT. You are an internet marketer and you are going to succeed as an internet marketer.

Does anything else matter?

You have to concentrate on eliminating this fear.

It’s not going to happen overnight but if you begin each day thinking of success instead of failure, you will find that as each day passes, you will be thinking of success more until that fear of failure doesn’t occupy your mind anymore.

© Nick Vernon
Source: Article Factory

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Women's Prize for Fiction - Winner 2022

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki


The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
ON AMAZON


After the tragic death of his father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house and sound variously pleasant, angry or sad. Then his mother develops a hoarding problem, and the voices grow more clamorous. So Benny seeks refuge in the silence of a large public library. There he meets a mesmerising street artist with a smug pet ferret; a homeless philosopher-poet; and his very own Book, who narrates Benny's life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

Blending unforgettable characters with jazz, climate change and our attachment to material possessions, this is classic Ruth Ozeki - bold, humane and heartbreaking.


Wednesday, 1 June 2022

The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition

Entry to the 2022 competition has now closed.

Planning to announce the longlist on their website in July, the shortlist in August, and the winner in October. 

Follow On Twitter

Visit the Website

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

The Beagle North Short Story Competition

Quarterly run short story competition

The next closing date is June 30th, 2022

It’s free to enter.

The theme is ‘Connections’ and entries should be no longer than 2500 words.

1st prize: £20 (or equivalent) Amazon voucher.

2nd and 3rd prizes: £10 (or equivalent) Amazon voucher.

The top three entries will also appear on their site.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Monday, 2 May 2022

Why is Writing like Dancing?

There are so many dos and don'ts nowadays for writers to absorb that it's a wonder we don't all crack under the strain.

How are we suppose to get inspired - and write from the heart - when at least 90% of what we might want to put down on paper is considered bad practice or dull, ineffectual writing?

When starting a new story, for instance, and you find yourself describing the weather or including oodles of back story - or now apparently too much detail of any kind - what are we supposed to do?

Stop and start again?

Wait for a more inspired thought?

Keep beating ourselves up until we're better writers?

I would suggest none of the above.

Because if you let all the constraints and possible criticisms get to you, you'll most likely end up blocked - and writing nothing.

Show Don't Tell

I had an email from an esteemed subscriber this week who asked me a question that seems pertinent to this issue.

Here's the gist:

"I've been reading a lot lately about 'show don't tell', and I agree with it but when writing I invariably fall into telling because I guess I like it. Is that a bad thing?

"Also I'm a big Sci-fi and Fantasy reader where a lot of telling is done... But to me (and maybe I'm just crazy) telling is part of the fun. I mean when I read I like the telling, the information... I mean as long as there's some action, the telling is fine with me. Am I the only one who feels this way?"

First of all, my subscriber is not crazy - far from it!

Our love affair with 'telling' is innate - it's in our natures to be able to glean information in this way. We accept the sense of detachment, indeed even welcome it sometimes. It's pleasurable to us. And it's certainly not a crime for an author to indulge in it.

The advice regarding show don't tell is more to do with how some writers go about creating immediacy and empathy for their characters. It's great once you know how to do it. But even the best 'showing' authors know that for pacing at least, you sometimes need to step back and 'tell' the story for a while.

My feeling is that you need to read - and write - what you most enjoy.

We are all influenced and affected by other writers - and hopefully we learn from the best techniques and the styles of others. But we should also listen to the way we feel inside - on a more visceral level. If our emotions are engaged and we are absorbed in the stories we read, then we should respect those feelings - rather than reject stylistic 'flaws' on principle.

There's nothing wrong with emulating writing styles that we feel work - even when we're told they're bad practice.

It's up to us to find our own method of self expression before getting bogged down by the apparent need for stylistic perfection.

Write First - Edit Later

Nobody writes perfectly the first time out. It's not possible, especially when writing a longer work.

How can you know whether your first paragraph is appropriate until you've finished the whole book?

Why waste time honing a chapter to perfection when you might want to drop it completely later on?

I see this a lot.

Writers flagellate themselves over passages that are hard to write - when it's often the most easily written parts that become the most effective when the work is complete.

Take a lesson from this - and don't beat yourself up.

Let it all out naturally, with ease, enjoying the process as you go.

The best writing style for you - for any writer - is the one that comes most naturally to you. If the writing is hard, you're not engaging the right pathways in your brain - and your work will often look forced.

When you're enjoying the writing process, you're more in tune with your unique self - that part of you that is more likely to be original and inspired. Quite apart from the simple fact that if you enjoy writing, you'll do it for longer and more consistently, both of which are prerequisites of a writing career.

Dance Into The Fire

Back to the dancing question in the title...

I received an email overnight from a lovely new subscriber who used to be a dancer - a champion at that.

I hope she doesn't mind me using her as an example in this article - I haven't asked her permission yet. But she says:

"I do not know all the in's and outs of writing and how to make a living at it as I have done with dance. I have been on so many web sites, but you are the only one I have spent money on...

"I have a doctorate in the arts, and will now write about the arts, and so much more. Please accept my thanks for the programs, chat room, stories about Hollywood movies... all the thoughts outside the box. Good job, and thanks for the confidence shot."

And here's part of my response:

"You sound like you've led a fascinating life and my advice would be for you to apply yourself to writing in the same way as you have to dance.

"Learn all the moves - the techniques - but then let your instincts tell you what is right. I'm sure you'll do well then."

The Dance Analogy

Writing is an act of self-expression.

How can you express yourself properly when you have critics - inside and out - heckling your every word?

It's like being a dancer, rehearsing all the right moves. It's a necessary part of the eventual performance. You need to practice and work through the kinks to get fluidity of movement and give the illusion of ease. Dancers will tell you that illusion is the hardest part of their job.

So it is with writing.

Think of your final manuscripts as your 'performance' - a public exhibition of your talent for all to see. But don't be afraid to work hard behind the scenes: polishing and honing your style by making mistakes and writing badly, freely, in your own way.

Because it's by being true to yourself and constantly striving for improvement, step by step, that you will achieve success.

As someone famous once said: "Everybody makes mistakes. That's why they put an eraser on the end of a pencil."

Make all the mistakes you want - in private. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Push yourself. Try new things. Try old things. Try.

It's all good practice until that day you feel you're good enough to take your work out to an audience - and give it a public airing.

Your readers will love your apparently effortlessness and skill - and, while transported by your performance, will largely be unaware of the hard work and discipline that went into creating it.

That's why writing is like dancing.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell

The Writing Academy

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Booker Prize 2022 Key Dates

The longlist will be announced on the 26th July

The shortlist will be announced on the 6th September 

The winner will be announced on the 17th October

Visit the Booker Prize website

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Cranked Anvil Flash Fiction Competition

A quarterly competition

Entries must not exceed 500 words

Next deadline is 31st August

Deadlines last day of the month:  Feb; May, August and November

Entry fee: £5 for 1 entry; £8 for 2 entries, £10 for 3 entries

Prizes:

1st prize £150

2nd prize £75

3rd prize £50

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Women's Prize for Fiction: The Shortlist

Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead

Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki

The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

The Sentence by Louise Erdrich

Winner to be announced on the 15th June 2022

Visit the Women's Prize for Fiction website

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

What's a Writer to Do?

There's really only one way to achieve success in writing and it's very simple to learn: to keep writing!

I know this is my call sign - but I chose it for a reason.

It's based on my experience of watching thousands of writers over the years.

The truth of it is very basic. That is, the Universe favors those who do not give up.

It's obvious really.

If you set out on a path and commit to it, many things in the world need to change for you to accomplish your goals.

People around you need to think of you as a writer.

Publishers, agents and editors need to know that you are a writer.

They need to see you working and taking your craft seriously.

You need to be building a catalog of work - articles, short stories, novels, non-fiction work, e-books, websites, blogs, anything that proves that you live your life through writing.

The Universe needs to see you improving - and wanting to improve - so that it can then do its bit: creating unseen connections for you, working behind the scenes on your behalf, setting up relationships between people you may not meet for years.

Every writer needs to believe that their time will come - whether sooner or later.

It's an act of faith, to be sure, especially when it seems as though you're not getting anywhere, are ignored or unappreciated, or constantly rejected.

But hey, as my first success coach used to say, no-one ever said that following your heart was going to be easy.

Quite the opposite.

We know from history that every great battle, every movement forward was preceded by persistence and tenacity and the self belief of those who would be taken seriously.

Why should our careers be any different?

Yes, some people seem to get there quickly - but mostly, if you study these things - this is an illusion.

Even if you have famous parents, are rich enough to kick butt, or get a few lucky breaks, you still have to deliver the goods once you get there.

You still need talent and staying power to reach the top of your game.

Just because it may appear that some people hit the big time out of the blue, doesn't mean that's what has actually happened.

People with talent - especially writers - are noticed, then nurtured, then thrust upon the scene largely by their own volition - and then the public must decide whether they are worthy.

In the modern world nothing much happens by accident.

Instant fame is, more often than not, planned carefully by many people behind the scenes - and usually based on endless positive feedback - and, of course, sales.

It takes a lot of faith from artists to keep to their path and not give up.

But I would argue it takes a lot more faith from a lot more people to support an artist.

If you want to be a successful writer, you need to be a rock of dependability - an inspiration in your own right.

You need to show others that you are focused on your writing, committed to your writing, and convinced of your own worth as a writer.

A tall order?

Perhaps - given that most artists are tough on themselves - and not always convinced of their own talent!

But that's the first hurdle - something I've dedicated my career to overcoming.

My Writing Academy was set up to help writers get over their self-doubt - to fill them with confidence.

Writing, like nail biting or overeating, is habit based.

Writing needs time - your time, no-one else's!

As much as we might like things to be easy, there are dues to pay.

There are hours to spend doing the actual work at the coal-face.

No-one and nothing can write for you.

All the software, the gizmos and all the will in the world won't eradicate the blank pages that needs your words to fill them.

As I've always said, it starts with your mind.

Your mindset is the beginning - and you need to get that clear first, before anything else.

Your must be clear on what being a writer means to you, you must have good reasons why you want to be a writer, and you must have the confidence - even if you need to fake it at first - to continue, knowing that things may not always be easy along the way.

The most successful writers just stick with it.

They take rejection - sometimes years of it - in their stride.

They keep going, gently pushing, improving all the time, until finally the gates of opportunity open up and the Universe's gatekeeper is there saying, "Okay, now it's your turn."

I hope by then you will have learned your craft well - because you're going to need every ounce of talent and tenacity to hold on to that opportunity.

But there's hope - because writing really can be easy, once you get your mindset in the right place.

And the best part about that is you can do it right now.

You've always had the power, inside, just waiting for you to tap into it. Trust me, it's there.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

Monday, 28 February 2022

Flash500 Short Story Competition

Stories ranging between 1,000 and 3,000 words

Strong characters, a well-crafted plot and realistic dialogue (where used). 

Make us laugh, make us cry, but most of all, make us feel!

This is an annual short stories competition: entries close on the last day of February 2023

Entry fee: £7 for one story, £12 for two, £16 for three, £20 for four

Optional critiques: £25 per story

Prizes awarded as follows:

First: £500

Second: £200

Third: £100

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Character Clues

While the best characters have elements of real people to make them believable, real people rarely make good fictional characters. They are often flat and full of minor contradictions that make them non-credible to a fiction reader.

No, fictional characters need to be more than real. They are often essentially an amalgam of credible traits that are easily recognizable as human 'archetypes'.

When constructing your stories, you should think not so much in terms of who your characters ARE but WHY they're in your story. You'll then be in a much better position to understand them and their purpose.

Indeed, taking this notion on board will also help you describe them well and keep their actions and motivations in check.

Because, as I've said many times, there is no story without characters - and when constructing story plots, characters come first. You should know your characters like your best friends - actually better than your best friends - BEFORE you use them to construct your story plots.

That aside, here are some pointers about the type of characters that inhabit fiction - and why they exist.

1. The Neophyte

Also known as the fool, this type of character turns up surprisingly often in fiction. He/she is generally naive or unwise at first - but usually courageous later too, and, of course, heroic.

It is their purpose to tell the story through the eyes of the reader - so that the action and plot unfold for the character at the same time as the reader.

Characters like Harry Potter, Luke Skywalker, and Bella Swann fulfill the role of the neophyte.

2. The Foil

The sidekick in fiction is almost a cliche. It can be done well - and it can be done badly.

The purpose of the foil is to balance the hero and provide the reader's perspective in a story. The sidekick is the reader's anchor in reality - someone who can help weigh the pros and cons of heroic action - and provide the voice of reason.

Sherlock Holmes' Watson, or Hercule Poirot's Hastings, even Kaye Scarpetta's Detective Marino. Also, the foil is often used to help aggrandize the hero in the eyes of the reader.

3. The Father Figure

Sometimes cast as a trusted friend, the father figure is the voice of wisdom and experience, and often a kind of mentor.

The father figure represents the hero's higher ideals at the beginning of a story and usually the mirror to the hero's journey at the end of a story. The father figure is not required to change emotionally during a story, though his perspeective is more fully appreciated by the end.

Think in terms of Obi Wan Kenobi, Gandalf and Dumbledore.

4. The Mother Figure

Sometimes cast as the best friend or charming relative, the mother figure is strongly related to the archetypal Earth Mother - someone in sync with love, nature and all things good.

The mother figure exists to counter the classic 'masculine' motivations like power, justice and revenge with more nurturing elements like understanding, compassion and forgiveness.

Dan Brown's female characters, Sophie from the Da Vinci Code, Vittoria from Angels and Demons and Catherine from The Lost Symbol fulfil the mother role in his books - which is probably why Robert Langdon doesn't end up sleeping with any of them!

5. The Lover

Usually a strong motivating force for the hero's actions, though often fairly dormant in the character development front.

To be found in life threatening jeopardy, she is almost always beauty personified and worthy of supreme sacrifice. She is literally 'to die for'.

Her purpose is aspirational as well as motivational - in terms of her representation as the reason for the contest, and its ultimate prize.

Think Princess Liea and pretty much every hero's girlfriend who usually gets captured and held hostage by the bad guy...

Which brings us to:

6. The Antagonist

Psychologist Carl Jung said that the reason why we never tire of bad guys is that they represent our personal inherent fear of evil, uncertainty, danger and villainy.

The bad guy and his henchmen are the more obvious examples but other things like corrupt governmental systems, deadly viruses and natural calamities can also be used as antagonistic elements in stories.

The important thing is that the antagonist is threatening to the stability, well being and even sanity of the heroes.

Think Darth Vader, Snape, and Hannibal Lecter, to name just a few.

I hope the above examples of characters help you in your fiction.

When deciding on the stories you want to tell, it's often productive to question the roles of the characters - and fully understand their purpose in the context of archetypes - before you start plotting.

I think when you do, you'll find that your stories are stronger.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

Costa Book Awards - Previous Winners

Click the link below to open up document for full list of awards & winners

Costa Book Awards



Monday, 31 January 2022

Flash500 Flash Fiction

A quarterly open-themed competition 

Closing dates 

31st March

30th June

30th September 

31st December  

The results will be announced approx six weeks after each closing date and the three winning entries each quarter will be published on their website.

Entry fee: £5 for one story, £8 for two stories

Optional critiques: £15 per story

Prizes awarded as follows:

First: £300

Second: £200

Third: £100

VISIT WEBSITE

Sunday, 30 January 2022

Whatever Happened to the Short Story?

Many people email me to ask about short story markets.

Where are they? And where have they all gone?

The market for magazine length (2000 to 5000 words) short stories has dwindled almost to vanishing point in the last fifty years.

Nowadays, unless you're already famous, you can't get short stories published at all it seems.

There's the New Yorker, a few SciFi monthlies - and the odd woman's magazine - where the competition is savagely fierce, and that's about it.

Basically, the short story market has crashed. The advent of our high speed, high tech world has left the short story on the platform, waving at the departing train of progress.

The short story has been replaced by newer markets like TV, movies, computer games and true life (ie reality) based magazine 'confessions.' All very sad. But is it?

Instead of bemoaning the death of the short story, writers need to adjust their worldview and move with the times.

Many writers are reluctant to attack the new markets. They regard TV, film and computer games as somehow beyond, or perhaps beneath them. Consequently, contrary to popular belief, these markets are remarkably, still crying out for writers.

Robyn and I are constantly amazed by TV, movie producers and computer game developers who are always complaining at seminars that they can't find enough writers!

It seems absurd when Robyn and I know literally thousands who are desperate for paid work - and yet won't move outside of their comfort zones of novels and their (unpublishable) short stories.

Yes, there is still much demand for novels, if only because a good one can make millions. But the competition is ruthless. Your manuscripts have to brilliant AND flawless before you can get a look in to the novel market. It's a demanding genre because many writers have little inkling of just how good their novels need to be before they even think of sending them out...

Yes, writing for the screen is hard work too. Work being the active word. Writing you can expect to get paid for, alas, is work - and should be approached with that ethic. Even fiction.

Especially fiction.

Many new writers have this romantic idea that you can write fiction in your own space and time, send it out and it will be picked up as is.

Uh-uh. Those days are over.

Fiction is a business. Collaboration is the order of the day.

Rewriting, reworking and brutal editing are the norm - not just in TV and film, but also in novel writing - where the average bestseller is RE-written up to twenty or thirty times before it is deemed worthy of release to the public.

Fiction is no longer the author's sole domain. It is now often a committee led process. It has to be - to appeal to the broadest audience. 'Little things' like logic, structure, character motivation and believability have become so much more important.

One of the main reasons I put together "The Art of Story" is because, working in this industry, I'd noticed this trend coming.

That there is a right way to construct a story. It is no longer just an art. It is a science too. And the principles of creating suitable story beats, achieving adequate emotional involvement and exploiting the reader's willing suspension of disbelief can not only be quantified but also repeated and most importantly, can be taught.

As you progress through your writing career, you'll find that people in the fiction business - whether concerned with novel writing, screenplays or even short stories - actually know instinctively what works and what doesn't. They have to - it's how they stay ahead of the game. It's also, unfortunately, why so many wannabe writers end up in the slush pile.

They simply don't understand that there are age old conventions and new, highly sophisticated techniques that can elevate a story from average to outstanding, simply by understanding and using the various elements of story.

You can literally design good fiction that almost writes itself, once you understand specifics like empathy, logical scene structure and the classic templates for story beats.

I could go on explaining the specifics for hours. 


Keep Writing!

© Rob Parnell

Friday, 28 January 2022

The Green Stories Short Story Competition

Closing date is the  July 21st, 2022.

Free to enter. 

The theme, this year, is ‘Clean vs. Green’.

Word count: 1000-3000 words.

1st prize: £500

VISIT WEBSITE

Monday, 10 January 2022

On Writing Well

On Writing Well

On Writing Well
has been praised for its sound advice, its clarity and the warmth of its style. It is a book for everybody who wants to learn how to write or who needs to do some writing to get through the day, as almost everybody does in the age of e-mail and the Internet. Whether you want to write about people or places, science and technology, business, sports, the arts or about yourself in the increasingly popular memoir genre, On Writing Well offers you fundamental principles as well as the insights of a distinguished writer and teacher. With more than a million copies sole, this volume has stood the test of time and remains a valuable resource for writers and would-be writers.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

The Moth Short Story Prize


Open internationally to anyone over the age of 16, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished.

Judge: Sarah Hall.

Short stories max 4,000 words.

Entry fee: €15 per story.

Closing date: 30 June 2022.

1st prize: €3,000
A 1st prize of €3,000, a 2nd prize of a week-long writing retreat at Circle of Misse in France (including €250 for travel) and a 3rd prize of €1,000.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Saturday, 8 January 2022

Searchlight

Searchlight 

Best Novel Opening for Children or Young Adults is open to anyone over the age of 16.

Closing date: 22nd August 2022.

Entry fee: £14 per story.

1st Prize: £1000

The top 10 stories will feature in the Winners’ Collection, which is sent to publishers and literary agents, and will also be published in an annual printed anthology.

Word limit: the first 1,200 words of a longer novel.

VISIT THE WEBSITE

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Get That Novel Written!

 

Get That Novel Written!
Get That Novel Written! by Donna Levin

In her follow-up to Get That Novel Started! Levin shows beginning as well as experienced novelists: why they must get to know their characters as though they were real people; what makes the juiciest conflicts; how to avoid the "Barney Fife Syndrome" by thwarting takeover attempts by secondary characters; how to use point of view deftly to strengthen storytelling; and much more. Topics are divided into The Basics and The Finer Points, offering writers two levels of instruction. Most chapters end with skill-building exercises.

Monday, 3 January 2022

Get That Novel Started! by Donna Levin

 

Get That Novel Started! by Donna Levin
Get That Novel Started! by Donna Levin

A detailed how to-guide to writing a novel provides exercises, outlines, and practical advice from starting to finishing a novel