Short stories are one of WriteWords' abiding interests - and it helps that it's so easy to post a short story, and get feedback. And two of the busiest groups are for the short fictioneers.
The Commercial Short Story group does just what it says on the tin: it's for those writing for paying markets such as the women's magazines. The competition is fierce, the form is tight, and the editors know just what they're looking for ... or, at least, they'll know it when they see it. Really they will. So it's a hugely demanding form, and hints and tips about which mags want what, and what they might want in the future, are all welcome; the feedback on work is very knowledgeable, and the forum is full of good advice and fascinating questions. For example, longstanding WriteWorder Catkin has started a list of commercial-fiction-friendly competitions, while Bald Man is being congratulated on being featured in Writers Forum magazine.
In the Short Story Writers' group the focus is often on competitions - but the kind which might get you a publication credit.
Meanwile, over in Flash Fiction, things are always busy, as they run a weekly competition among themselves for very short stories. As well as being a fascinating form in itself, flash fiction can be a very good training ground, as there's scope to experiment, try things out, get feedback and try something else, all within a relatively short space of time.
And if you're interested in getting one-to-one feedback from a professional, have a look at the WriteWords courses. It might be just the leg-up your writing needs.
New member jawad is looking for "the drama school of fiction writing. Where you get broken and then put back together again. Disciplined, made to explain plots and characters and their relevance to the whole story. Even a writing mentoring scheme would do..." and WriteWorders have piled in with suggestions and arguments. And a thread from a while back collects together the experience of a whole range of WriteWorders who've done a Masters.
Any ghost-writer will tell you that some of their contracts have a clause saying that the ghost must never say that it was the ghost - not the well-known author - who wrote the book. Is that a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act, asks SusieAngela? Are we buying something which is sold under false pretences? As ever, WriteWorders have some strongly-held opinions.
And in the WriteWords Groups, new member Teuchter is being welcomed in Commercial Short Story while in the Children's Writers Group, Kel35 is getting the support and virtual arnica that we all need after a rejection, while Cacooper is celebrating a commission from HotKey.
WriteWorders are joining in with YA author and longstanding WriteWords member Keris Stainton's initiative Authors for the Philippines.
Desperate to do something about the dreadful situation in the far east, Keris has persuaded authors, agents editors, illustrators and more to donate critiques, dedications, signed copies, original manuscripts and more: there's even an evening in a pub, a tea-party ...
All of these are up for auction, and available for you to bid for, from today, Wednesday 13th, for a week.
WriteWorder FloraPost (Ruth Warburton) first alerted WriteWords, and she, EmmaH, Eve26, CaCooper, EmmaD, Samantha Tonge and more are all there, offering signed copies, submission advice, critiques and more, and the number is growing, and WriteWorders are there in the bidding too.
Keris was behind Authors for Japan which raised over £13,000 to help after the earthquake; it would be fantastic if we could match or even beat this total. There is really something for everyone, so please get bidding for this excellent cause and share this with any friends or groups who may be interested.
Vaness Curtis, longstanding WW member (NessieC) and novelist has offered a discount of 10% to WW members who use her new service, the Curtis Children's Literary Consultancy. Read all about it here; http://www.writewords.org.uk/interviews/vanessa_curtis2.asp - she will consider general fiction as well as childrens/YA.
'Zelah Green' (Egmont) won The Manchester Children's Book Awards and was short listed for the Waterstones, Nasen/TES, Young Minds and Bolton book awards. A sequel followed. She then published 'The Taming of Lilah May' (Frances Lincoln) and sequel. Her fifth novel for children was 'The Haunting of Tabitha Grey' (Egmont) which was short listed for seven awards including The Nottingham Brilliant Book Awards and The Portsmouth Book Awards. She has just been signed to Usborne Children's Books for 'The Earth Is Singing', the story of a girl who must try to survive the Nazi invasion of Latvia in 1941.
One of the strange things about being an author is that there's a whole industry which depends on what we do, but we're not part of it in the way that agents and editors and sales teams and booksellers are. We create the product for the industry, but the nature of creative work is that the outcome isn't always predictable or even under our control.
As one well-known author said, when asked whether an aspiring writer should attend the London (or Frankfurt) Bookfair, "Only if you think that sheep should attend the Meatpacker's Conference." So the relationship of writers to the publishing industry is always a hot topic, and the forums are buzzing with it.
How and why and when should writers be willing to work for free? A discussion sparked off by Philip Hensher's piece in The Guardian, but as ever on WriteWords, it ranged over all sorts of issues. Another thread also got stuck into a piece by Ananka Schofield, about the strange business of being a debut novelist, and why on earth readers want to know about you, not about your books. And a couple of weeks before that, Guy Walters had another angle on the question.
Is the day of the agent over? asks Terry Edge, newly back from the vast FantasyCon conference. Are agents redundant? On the other hand, Polly Nolan, who has just moved to Greenhouse Literary Agency, talks about what excites her in the slushpile of childrens's and Young Adult books, what she's looking for, and why you should think really hard before you write a trilogy. And uber-agent Carole Blake can be found on Jane Wenham-Jones's new YouTube TV show, which sparked yet more discussion.
So the evenings are longer, the outdoors colder, and the thought of curling up with a great story-idea becomes ever more tempting. But when you've written that story - and re-written it - and tried it out on your WriteWords group - and re-written it again... What do you do with it then?
Might it fit the Wessex Writers 2014 competition? There's no theme, the word limit is a satisfying 3000, and there's a nice long deadline too - you've got till 31st of March.
Mardibooks are offering feedback and e-publication to the winners of their First World War short story competition, over at Ideas Tap, and the deadline's a bit closer - 29th November. Maybe the Armistice commemorations in a couple of weeks will inspire you?
And if you're 18-30, and you've got a whole project in theatre, music, writing or dance that needs full-time work to flower, along with support and mentoring, then Sky Arts and Ideas Tap are jointly funding bursaries of £30,000.
Those are all currently on the Latest Additions list on the Jobs & Opps home page, where you can sort by what kind of writing you do, and what kind of opportunity you're looking for.
But don't forget, too, to keep an eye on the Deadline Approaching lists. The National Poetry Competition closes on this Friday, the 31st October - have you got something that just might have a chance?
And if non-fiction - the essay - is your thing and you're 16-25, then you could win the Benjamin Franklin House Prize: the theme is something Franklin said: "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of." After all, writing about life is a very good way to make sure you don't squander it.
Just posted- fantastic new Q and A with Polly Nolan of Greenhouse Literary Agency, who specialise in YA/children's fiction http://www.writewords.org.uk/interviews/greenhouse_literaryagency.asp
The big news in the forum at the moment is that the members of the Commercial Short Story forum have launched an anthology of their work, with an introduction by writer and broadcaster Gloria Hunniford. Child In Me is a collection of sixteen stories by new writers, and established author-members such as scriptwriter and Site Expert Julie Balloo, along with Sam Tonge, Jem and Katerina. The group put all their entries through a rigorous selection and editorial process and all royalties go to support the Grandparents Association. Click through here for a choice of ways to buy.
And in other news, as they say:
Never let it be said that WriteWorders, in their quest for creative success, lose their grasp of essentials. In the forums at the moment a hot topic is what kind of glasses are most useful and least nuisance for a writer who may spend much of his or her life looking at a screen or a notebook, but also has to look outwards to see the world just as sharply.
Then there's the fine detail of punctuation. So your story may not stand or fall by whether the question mark goes inside or outside the speech mark, but you have your professional pride. And besides, it is actually all about what you're trying to say.
Not that WriteWorders don't like to jump in, when someone - all right, Site Expert EmmaD - posts something like this: If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Discussion ensued...
WW member and writer Samantha Tonge says 'it’s all about Promotion, as the author of a digital-first novel, Doubting Abbey, coming out in December. Dutifully I’ve upped my game on Facebook and Twitter, plus have also joined Pinterest and Tumblr. In addition I constructed a website purely for the book. Also, I’m arranging a blog tour.
However, during the last month, I’ve also learnt a lot about promotion in the real world...'
Read the rest of her blog post here:
Again, because longstanding WriteWorder Samantha Tonge has been published many, many times in the short story world, and if you want to read her tips for writing for The People's Friend click through to her website. Sam has been a stalwart of the short fiction groups on WriteWords and she really knows what she's talking about.
But Sam's now got a double celebration. Just as her collection of feelgood short stories Sweet Talk is published by AlfieDog, and hits the e-book shelves and a sweetshop or two as well, she's just signed a contract for her debut novel.
Doubting Abbey - yes, you read that right - will be published by Harlequin's imprint CarinaUK, just in time for Christmas. To get a taste of this romantic comedy, click through to Sam's Doubting Abbey blog.
And don't forget that WriteWords can help you to follow in Sam's footsteps. As well as joining a group and getting involved in feedback (you learn as much from giving others feedback as you do from getting feedback on your work), click through to the WriteWords Directory to start your search for magazines and book publishers. And then there's Jobs & Opps, which is full of the latest calls for submission, competitions: keep an eye on the Latest Additions, and Deadline Approaching columns, to make sure you never miss a possibility.
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