Two photos today. Both secured from a free photo site and on the first page of my search for images of 'creative writing'. I thought they were both rather lovely, but ever so slightly not anything to do with creative writing.
Unless you want to be metaphorical...
In which case, the small image is, in my mind, the flash competition entries. Have you written yours yet? Only 250 words and a whole month before the closing date. Go HERE
The beautiful and burgeoning cloud below is how my mind is currently feeling about The Exeter Story Prize competition. It's for a story of up to ten thousand words. I have yet to put the details up on the site - soon, promise! The closing date won't be until next April so there's a while to go. By then, the winner of the 2014 Exeter Novel Prize will already have been announced. Could it be you? Go HERE
If you want to give yourself the best chance with any competition, whether it's one of ours or not, then do your homework. So many times during judging do we come across great ideas and talent but the story can't win because of poor execution or a major error resulting of just not knowing! Read the previous winners. Go to a writing class or group. Read a creative writing text book (oh, how can I not give The Creative Writing Student's Handbook a plug here?), or at the very least, get someone else to read your story, if possible someone who writes too or knows more than your nearest and dearest.
If you're reasonably local you might like Friday Writers. Go HERE for more info about the course.
Happy writing and don't forget - you can't win if you don't enter!
In the last week I haven't won two competitions. This isn't surprising since one I didn't enter and the other had a great many entries. What have I learnt from this experience? Anything?
I discovered this week that a writer I admire, Tracy Fells, had a competition success rate in 2013 of merely 33%. I was amazed at that because her name appeared in so many lists. But what I hadn't known was that she had entered eighty-seven competitions. Gasp!
Note to self - write faster!
I am a firm believer in competitions. They are a godsend for the aspiring writer. Not only do others notice (illustrious others as well as friends and family) but a placing in any list provides massive self-validation. The lonesome writer needs lots.
That's the main reason that CreativeWritingMatters is launching another competition. We're calling it WoW! because it's for a short story of one thousand words (best to say it out loud), although we'll allow fifty either way. The closing date will be 31st May and I'll be posting a page with more information under the competition tab on February 1st.
Tracy won second place in the H.E.Bates competition. Congratulations! And to Anne Corlett for winning. You can read both their stories HERE. I'm thinking of getting a dog (see pic).
Closer to home, I'm going to sing the praises of an Exeter Writer, Dan Knibb who has been short listed for the Harry Bowling Novel and Flash prize. When he's famous I shall tell anecdotes about his first term in my class.
Edit: I've since discovered that a 20% success rate is considered good! Keep sending 'em out, folks.
Time to crack open the first round of bubbly, I think, for I can now share some very excellent news I've known about for a little while. In the Spring of next year, the Romantic Novelists' Association is to publish an anthology and one of my stories is to be included in the digital edition.
I am so proud! I shall be rubbing page shoulders with so many illustrious names that I could end up as fizzy as the glass on the left. I sent off the story over a year ago now. It's quite long - nearly five thousand words but I remember writing it at some speed. Then there was the many months of waiting to hear and all the time trying not to think about it.
When I heard I'd been successful, I re-read it and couldn't help feeling deliciously pleased with myself.
I'll let you know when it is published. There may be pictures, even a new frock - what?Another new frock? We'll see. It's a bit tricky to have a book signing for an ebook, but I'll think of something. In the meantime...cheers!
Margaret, Sophie et moi.
Do we look rather pleased with ourselves? I think so. We were at Thursday evening's launch of The Exeter Novel Prize and very successful it was too. Lots of people came, turning out in nasty weather more like October's than June. Thank you!
It's quite a while since I posted my first competition entry. I sent my story to the Woman and Home competition in 2005. My mother had given me the magazine. 'You do a bit of writing,' she said. The theme of the competition was Presents. I read the magazine and thought about all the presents I'd ever been given. The lamp in this photo is probably the oddest. It also inspired the story and I shall never part with it.
'I saw it and thought of you,' she said.
The story reached the finals and my name and a little postage stamp picture was published in the magazine. I was so happy I cried. Since then, I've had a lot of success. Competitions abound for the short story writer.
But for the novelist, opportunities are few. Most novel competitions have restrictions of one sort or another. A particular genre perhaps, unpublished writers only, age and/or sex of the entrant are some.
Margaret, Sophie and I want The Exeter Novel Prize to be an opportunity for as many novelists as possible, whether it be a first step on the ladder or a step back on the ladder having fallen off in the past. The thrill of being placed, that recognition of worth after those hours spent tapping away is better than any shot in the arm.
The very best of luck to all who enter.
Party girls - Margaret, Sophie and Cathie
The team has been out partying again. Meeting up with old friends and yes, we did have a glass or two and quite a few canapés. The main focus of the evening was to applaud those shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year and Joan Hessayon Award and to congratulate the winners Jenny Colgan and Leisel Schwarz. It was a very happy occasion. More information about the evening can be found HERE. There are more photos HERE.
Of course, the RNA summer party was also a great place for us to spread the word about The Exeter Novel Prize and everyone we spoke to was very enthusiastic. Our esteemed judge, Broo Doherty was also there and she is as keen as we are to discover new talent. The local launch of the prize is at the Writing Competitions: How to be a Winner event at Exeter Central Library on June 27th at 7pm. We're hoping for a big audience (to eat the cakes).
An RNA party has to have some mention of shoes but instead of the usual photos of stilettos, platforms and sparkly bone-crushers, here's what happens a little later in the evening.
Phew! I can still hear the collective sigh of relief.
Writing groups are brilliant. Exeter Writers has generously supported writers for over 60 years and this year they are sponsoring The Exeter Novel Prize. The group has successfully run a short story competition for the last five years, encouraging all those who were listed to further their careers. Later this year Exeter Writers will be publishing an anthology that will include the winners.
Competition placing is a great way to build a CV and something to say when it comes to writing those important letters to agents and commissioning editors. They take notice.
There are many competitions for short story writers and for those who take brevity to the limit in flash fiction writing but for the novelist there are few, and those there are, often have restrictions.
The Exeter Novel Prize is for both unpublished and published writers for a novel not currently under contract with a commercial publisher. Any genre is acceptable except children’s (under 12).
I wish I could enter!
Sophie (right) and the big cheque.
If you've just clicked through from the Home page, then you may have seen our announcement of the forthcoming Exeter Novel Prize. We are very excited about this opportunity to champion an unpublished novel and are thrilled that London literary agent Broo Doherty has agreed to be our judge and that Exeter Writers are sponsoring the prize. We will be having a launch event in June and hope to see lots of people there.
I'm very keen on writing competitions as my students well know. A listing of any sort should be added to the CV because it demonstrates a high level of competence. Don't forget that if your story doesn't win one competition, it might well win another. I know this to be true! Placing depends on the judges preference, you don't have to cross the line first or keep a ball in court to win. What you have to do, is write it and send it, then perhaps go and sacrifice a metaphorical goat if it makes you feel better.
The photo's rather blurry but when Sophie won the Luke Bitmead Award for her novel The Generation Game, she said the whole evening was a blur. She has since had two novels published to acclaim.
Read Margaret's Blog