Monday, 22 January 2018

Flash Fiction Info

Today, I'm joined by Alyson Faye, whose going to talk about one of the most popular writing form for competitions – flash fiction.

I started writing flash fiction about three years ago, sparked off by my WEA creative writing classes. I took to the brevity of the form, whether writing 50 word dribbles - yes they're really called that; drabbles (100 word pieces) or 500 word pieces.

So what is flash? A fictional work of extreme brevity that still offers character and plot development- usually no more than 1000 words.

It got addictive and soon I was writing more of it, reading such greats as Lydia Davis and starting to send my flash out to online magazines. I have some included in anthologies too. The buzz when an editor accepted a piece was wonderful, but there were many rejections along the way too.

Top Tips.

Some inspiring members of Alyon's creative writing class.
In writing flash every word has to work hard to earn its place in your piece. So edit ruthlessly.

Get rid of the back story and don't have too many characters - you don't have pages to expound in.

Start in the middle of your tale.

Show as much as you can without telling.

Did I mention editing? It matters.

I read about the opportunity to have a collection of flash published by indie publisher Gill James of Chapel Town Books (based in Salford) on a writer's blog (I'm not sure if this is where Alyson saw it, but I did blog about that one). I follow a few writing blogs - which I've found helpful. Gill operated a rolling programme of submissions and had chosen to focus on flash fiction.  Gill asked me to send in 10 sample flash pieces. When she emailed to ask for the rest of the 'collection' I was thrilled. In all there were around 35 pieces some just 100 words; some longer. 

There was some editorial input from Gill, and a discussion about the order of the stories, subheadings and the titling of those plus the pleasure of selecting a few possible cover images (off Pixabay) and writing the tag line for the front cover. I settled on 'A Collection of flash fiction- short tales, long shadows.' I agonised over those last four words- I wanted the tag line to hint at the stories' content. Gill wants all of the Chapel Town flash collections to have covers with a frame around the image - for cohesiveness.

I asked my WEA tutor Poet James Nash (who has been so supportive) if he would write a piece for the back of the book and I sent him a pdf to read. He wrote a wonderful paragraph. Plus of course there's the photo of moi on the back too.

'Badlands' is now out on amazon to buy as an e book and paperback.

Thanks, Alyson. I've tended to think of flash only in terms of small one-off pieces, so it's interesting to hear of them being used in a bigger project.

Btw, I've had a small success with flash fiction myself. I was runner up in this competition (which I blogged about a few months ago.)

Friday, 19 January 2018

A double, Jim?

I have a couple of competitions for science fiction writers today.

The Jim Baen Award is for a short story of up to 8,000 words. The prize package includes a trophy, paid publication, books and free entry into the 2018 Space Development Conference.

The James White Award is for short stories up to 6,000 words. Only non prefessional authors may enter. The prize is publication and £200.

This whisky drink is not Jim Beam. Yes, I do realise that's probably my most terrible attempt at connecting a photo with a post to date, but be fair – I've not yet been to the future, so I don't have any pictures taken there.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018


Rebutter, surprisingly isn't something you do to bread when you consider it's not been spread with a liberal enough amount of dairy goodness. 

It's actually a refutation (a word which probably deserves its own WWof theW post) or 'a defendent's reply to the plaintiff's surrejoinder'.

Sometimes I'm no help at all, am I?

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Did I... ?

I'm not entirely sure whether or not I've already mentioned these two competitions, but they have great prizes and you might have missed the post even if I did, so I'll do them again.

This one is for script writers. The prize is £250 plus performance of your play to an expected audience of 2,000.

This one is for non fiction. The prize package includes an Arvon course, £1,500, membership of The Royal Society of Literature and meetings with an agent and editor.

Both are (as usual) free to enter.

I know I've mentioned this marvellous writing book before, but as I'm a co-author I like to remind people now an then. It isn't free, but it's great value. Amongst many, many other things, it includes lots of information to about writing for competitions.

(I promise the photo is relevant, but admit only in a tenuos and slightly cryptic way.)

Friday, 12 January 2018


The BBC short story competition is now open. To enter you need to be British and/or resident in the UK and have a prior record of creative writing publication in the UK.

The prize is £15,000, with £600 going to all short listed entries. That seems a heck of a lot of money, especially as it presumably comes from licence payers. What do you think – can a prize be too big?

If playwriting is more your thing, then take a look at this competition. The prize is £2,200 and to have your play broadcast on the world service. Thanks to Hilary for bringing this one to my attention.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018


My dictionary gives three definitions for the word tidemark

It can be the line on a beach at the high water point, the scummy ring around the bath at the level the water reached, or a line on a person's body revealing they didn't have a bath and just washed the bits they thought would show.

I'd like to suggest a fourth – the patterns left on sand as the tide recedes. Don't you think this tidemark is beautiful?

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

A result

I don't just blog about free to enter competitions – I enter some too. I was a winner in this one, which I mentioned a while back.

Did you enter that one, or have you tried any of the other competitions I've featured recently?

Will you be trying any of those I'll be providing details of other the coming weeks?

Monday, 8 January 2018

Grippingly gothic

This competition is for a story of up to 500 words using the following phrase for inspiration - 
“It might be possible, of course, that far from being one, we may possess two selves.” 

Stories should grip readers in the same way gothic novels captured Victorian imaginations.

Stories will be be selected by actors from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde who will do filmed readings and these will form the shortlist. I think I've got that right...

Anyway, it sounds like fun, is free to enter and offers a £300 prize. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

It's On You

For this competition from On The Premises, you have from 1,000 to 5,000 words to write about an article of clothing.

Hats are OK, it says so. Reprints aren't. It doesn't say so, but as I have a previously published story involving a hat I asked. They said no.