Established 2003. Now incorporating The Sudbury Hill Harrow and Wherever End Times

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tips for writers: Hey Jude, don't make it bad


Hey Jude, don't make it bad,
Take a sad song and make it better...

The author was depressed. His brilliant short story called "Entry and Exit" had been summarily binned by the reader for the writing competition he had entered. Apparently they couldn't afford to pay for the right to use his epigraph from a song by The Beatles in their anthology of short-listed stories, and therefore there had been no point considering it. He paid the extra few pound to get the critique and they said it might have been okay if he hadn't interspersed every other paragraph with lines from Eleanor Rigby.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Tips for writers: "Oh and another thing," he stirred his tea

Wrong: "Oh and another thing," he stirred his tea. "Blah blah."
Better: "Oh and another thing." He stirred his tea. "Blah blah."

"He stirred his tea" is not a way of speaking.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tips for writers: Had you not better had?

As somebody had already said that the word "had" had better not be overused as it had only proved necessary on infrequent occasions, I had thought of not bothering with this tip till I had started this text and had gone this far already. The pluperfect is less than perfect when it infests most of the first page of many texts submitted. I had already come to this conclusion but had never moaned about it till now. In short, it drives me mad. Or it had, had I not always had the ability to escape by closing the page.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tips for writers: What's not there

Sometimes you have to tell us that something is missing. The ice cream van is not outside the park gates. That's fine. Where it can go wrong is when the writer has an irresistible itch to turn it into a litany. There are no squirming children, no exasperated parents ... Stop! They're not there, remember? What you're doing is an example of unwanted authorial intrusion; you are revealing your prejudices and your specialist knowledge. I don't want to know, not right now. You had me at "the ice cream van is not outside the park gates". Most likely your narrator would not think that way. He or she would notice the absence and possibly think of something much more obscure, which might be related but probably not a social commentary. No?
(I might have exaggerated this one, but sometimes there are egregious examples. Ed)

Tips for writers: Disperse

If you're entering more than one story in a literary competition: don't enter them all at the same time. You are putting each successive story at a disadvantage because it's quite easy to recognise the same style when reading two stories in a row. If the reader didn't like the first one, it may start him or her on the wrong foot with the next one. On the other hand if the first one found favour, another might not be as strong and might reflect back on the previous one. So leave a few days or preferably weeks between them, so the reader has no idea they're related.


2014 prize mug
The priceless trophy has arrived from our secret, latter day Fabergé cup maker. The true, the one and only one-off 2014 prize.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Less than a month left to enter

I sent out a mailshot. Okay, it's not as "cool" as some of the mailshots in the past. It really only says "don't miss the deadline" and lists the prizes. Here's a copy of the it. I'm looking forward to being transported by some great stories. I tried, somewhat impossibly, to describe what I look for in this: The Sense of a Short Story. You can read all about the previous years, judges, latest updates etc. here. If you want to see what the previous years' books look like, this is probably the best link. Thanks.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The one-off mug awaits a great story

It's the same every year. You keep me waiting for the great stories. I used to have nerves of steel, or anyway of tinfoil. Lately, however, I have nerves of cobweb. Don't tell me there are no more untold stories out there? As long as there's life, there must be stories and vice-versa. There's only about a month left and we need more short stories. As well as the Willesden Herald mug inscribed "Willesden Short Story Prize 2014" there is a prize fund of £600 and a week long writing retreat in rural Wales for the winner. Plus, all ten short-listed stories will be published and receive two copies of the book (New Short Stories 8). Link

Monday, November 04, 2013

Sunday, November 03, 2013

New Short Stories website down

The domain was hijacked. We are working on getting it back up and running. Meanwhile here are some tracks by Earl Klugh. YouTube playlist.

Update 4 November 2013: We're back. :)

Public bridleway, Sudbury Hill

From the corner of South Hill Avenue & Sudbury Hill

Passing by John Lyon school playing fields on the left

The path narrows.

Hold your horses.
The path is blocked after St Jude's storm. You can get around the blockage by going around the tree on the left. Still it should be cleared.