That Killer First page, Dublin, Oct 13

That Killer First Page, Oct 13

Venue: Brooks Hotel, 62 Drury Street, Dublin 2.

Date: Oct 13    Time: 10.30-4.30

Places are limited. This event sold out in Adelaide, Bali, Bath, Belfast, Cork, Galway, Kuala Lumpur, Lancaster, London, Melbourne & Singapore.  

You’ll find out what competition judges and journal editors look for in a short story and how to avoid the rejection pile. You’ll write a short piece and get feedback on that crucial story opening. In a form where every word counts, get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action. You’ll also look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.

How to get the attention of competition judges and editors
Writing fiction with emotional impact
Writing that killer first page
How to edit your story
Where to send your work

Paul McVeigh’s short fiction has been published in anthologies and journals inc. The Stinging Fly and Faber’s ‘Modern Irish Writing’. Stories have been commissioned by BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5 and Sky Arts TV. He was shortlisted for Irish Short Story of the Year 2017 at the Irish Book Awards. His short story blog shares writing opportunities and advice and gets 40,000 hits a month and has had over 2 million views. He’s interviewed short story masters like Kevin Barry, Elizabeth McCracken and George Saunders for The Irish Times. Paul co-founded the London Short Story Festival and is Associate Director at Word Factory, the UK’s national centre for excellence in the short story. He is a judge for national and international short story competitions including, in 2018, the Sean O’Faolain Prize, the Edge Hill Prize and the International Dylan Thomas Prize. He is also the current fiction editor at Southword Journal where he recently commissioned Kit de Waal and twice Booker shortlisted Deborah Levy.                                                                                   

“I emerged from the sleepy hamlet of my writing infancy last Saturday and was sky-rocketed, hurricaned, tsunamied, autobahned and g-forced out of my head by Paul McVeigh’s “That Killer First Page” Masterclass at Waterstones, Piccadilly. He’s on top of his game, gives instinctive, constructive criticism and in a few short hours, had conveyed the essence of how to make a story compelling and unputdownable from the first few lines. Get on one of his courses if you can.”

Reviews for his short stories:
“Beautiful and very moving.” Booker shortlisted Alison Moore
“How moving and stunning that story is. It’s so raw and incredibly human.” Costa shortlisted Jess Richards
“(one of) Ireland’s most exciting and talented writers.  Incredibly moving; poignant but utterly real, funny and beautifully observant.” BBC Radio 4
“Paul McVeigh’s story stands out. Funny, moving, poignant. Brilliant.” Metro Newspaper

Paul’s debut novel The Good Son’ won 2 awards and was shortlisted for a further 5.

‘A work of genius…’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Robert Olen Butler

“Both dancing and disquieting, complex and vivid, I devoured it in a day, but I’ve thought about it for many, many more.” Bailey Prize-winner Lisa McInerney The Glorious Heresies                                       ‘

‘A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.’ Donal Ryan

Places are limited to 15


Brooks are offering a special lunch deal – two tapas plus a glass of house wine at €18.50 per person.

PaulMcVeigh short story

London Lit Lab: Write and Edit a Story in a Weekend 7-8 Oct

We had so much fun teaching Write and Edit a Story in the spring that we’ve brought it back again this autumn. Only this time we’re not only dissecting the short story, but also the personal essay.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses as writers. For some, getting a first draft down is a necessary torture before the fun of editing begins. For others, editing is the agony after the ecstasy!

This two-day course is designed to get you both writing and editing, by combining dedicated creative time with an intensive tour through ways to improve your craft.

On day one, we’ll kick off by exploring ways to turn our ideas into full stories, whether we’re writing fiction or creative nonfiction, from getting first words down to finishing a draft. You will then have ample time and space (and tea and cake) to write, in the quiet company of fellow scribblers.

On day two, we will work through a series of editing approaches, which you will be able to apply to your own work. Think of these as a series of editorial experiments that will throw new light on plot, style, characterisation, setting, dialogue, openings and endings. We suggest that you bring your draft from the previous day (or another story or essay if you prefer), in multiple copy or on a laptop, so that you can test out approaches even if you choose not to apply all the editing techniques we teach in the session. We’ll discuss the results and share our work if we wish. In the spring both Zoe and Lily shared a very rough draft of their own writing, to be pulled apart by the group, but it was a great learning curve for everyone. So we’ll most likely do this again as well. Eek!

You don’t have to come up with an idea on the spot. You might have an idea you’ve been wanting to write, or a piece you have already started. Please bring this with you, to draft on day one. For those who want a new idea, we’ll provide optional idea-generating material to get you going.

This course is suitable for both beginners and committed writers. For both those writing fiction and creative nonfiction. Whether you’re dabbling in your first short stories or personal essays, or you’re compiling a short story collection, or writing a memoir, we welcome you. By the end of the course we’ll endeavour to help you have a new draft of a story or essay, and a range of editing skills to help get it into shape.

Course fee: Early Bird £189. Full fee £229

Date and Time: Weekend of October 7th & 8th, 10am-4pm

Location: Clapton Laundry, London – a luxurious, inspiring space in East London, where you will have plenty of space to spread out and find a quiet spot during the first day of writing. Lunch will also be provided

Tutors: This course will be taught by both Lily Dunn and Zoe Gilbert of London Lit Lab. By leading workshops together, we are able to bring two perspectives to everything we teach, and therefore everything is up for discussion! Sharing our differing approaches to writing helps to create a richer learning experience, which we believe benefits everyone who comes on our courses.

Places are limited, so if you would like to reserve a place, or for more information, please get in touch at

We have one place on this course available at a 75% discount for a writer who would struggle to pay the full fee. If you, or someone you know, would like to apply for this place, please write to us at, by 23rd September. In no more than 200 words, please tell us why you would like to come on the course, what you write, and why a discounted place would be valuable to you. We won’t be fact-checking but we really want to give this place to someone who genuinely needs it, so please be honest. Thanks, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Write and Edit a Short Story in a Weekend

This two-day course (8th-9th April) from London Lit Lab is designed to get you both writing and editing, by combining dedicated creative time with an intensive tour through ways to improve your draft.

On day one, we’ll kick off by exploring ways to turn our ideas into full stories, from getting first words down to finishing a draft. You will then have ample time and space (and tea and cake) to write, in the quiet company of fellow scribblers.

On day two, we will work through a series of editing approaches, which you will be able to apply to your own work.

This course is suitable for both beginners and committed writers. By the end of the course you will have a draft piece of work, and a range of editing skills to apply to it!

We’ll be based at a beautiful, luxurious location in East London, and the course will be led by two writers, Lily Dunn and Zoe Gilbert.

For more information about the course, and to read testimonials from previous London Lit Lab course attendees:

Words Away

bird-167Words Away is a new series of monthly creative writing salons for writers taking place at The Tea House Theatre Cafe in London, beginning Monday, 19th September, 7.30- 9.30pm. Alongside writer Emma Darwin I’ll be meeting up with a different guest author each month for a focussed discussion on aspects of writing fiction be it short stories or longer form. The salons have been created with the audience as a key part of the evening, to exchange ideas, ask questions and chat.

Our season begins with editor and blogger Andrew Wille looking at Ways To Make Your Novel Shine and exploring how to self-edit your fiction. Following Andrew we have some amazing guest writers lined up including Caroline Green, Essie Fox and Elizabeth Fremantle.

Be inspired. Develop and nurture your craft. Meet other writers.

Join us for one of our salons at the fabulous Tea House Theatre Cafe, 139 Vauxhall Walk, London, SE11, 5HL @7.30pm. £10 on the door or you can book online and find out more about Words Away on our website. WordsAway

Win a year’s access to online writing courses with Writers’ HQ!

Brighton Writers Retreat - General Logo - Web-01

To celebrate the launch of FIVE brand spanking new online writing, Writers’ HQ are offering FIVE deserving writers a year’s access to their creative writing programme, worth over £500.

The nitty gritty: 

Deadline: 14th August 2016

Prize: Access to our 5 short courses (7 ideas in 7 days, novel plotting, novel editing, manuscript submission & short fiction) for a whole year.

Submission requirements: Free entry! Just send us a sample of your writing (either the opening of a novel or short fiction piece – maximum 1,500 words) AND a brief statement about why you would benefit from our courses.


More info:

As writers/parents/employees/freelancers, we know all too well how hard it is to hold down a job, wrangle a family, battle imposter syndrome and wrestle the evil guilt that comes with trying to carve out time to write. And in the last four years of running writing retreats we’ve met hundreds of time-starved, finance-poor writers who feel the same.

And so! We decided SOMETHING MUST BE DONE. We’ve put together five new affordable, arse-kicking, profanity-laden, online writing courses, covering everything from idea generation to short fiction to novel plotting to manuscript submission to first draft editing. These short courses, spanning between one to six weeks, will help you to develop your writing skills in small, manageable chunks, whenever you can fit them in. And there’s more! With the generous aid of a development grant from the amazing, wonderful and vitally important Arts Council England, we’re ecstatic to be able to offer five fully subsidised places on all our short courses, giving the winners access to the course material for a whole year.

All you have to do is send us a bit of your work and let us know why you’d benefit from access to our new courses. Do it! Details of how to enter can be found HERE.

Good luck!


“Wary of backstory”: Claire Hennessy in conversation with Laura Perrem

Photo copyright Marianna Santikou

Photo copyright Marianna Santikou

I sometimes feel all writers should take a turn going through a submissions pile. It makes you so conscious of how to grab a reader’s attention and how to avoid clichéd openings or endings.

The Long Story, Short Journal is proud to present a new interview series which is the initiative of the journal’s Publicity Manager, Laura Perrem. First up is a conversation with Claire Hennessy, the author of October 2015’s story ‘Small Rebellions’.

Laura Perrem: What are you working on at the moment?

Claire Hennessy: I’m working on two ‘big’ projects right now: revisions on a young adult novel and putting together a collection of short stories. I’m also trying to write a couple of personal essays – short things that are finishable within a shorter time frame, basically.

LP: What does a typical writing day look like for you?

CH: There’s honestly no such thing as a typical writing day. Part of me would love to be one of those people who could get up and go for a lovely walk and then sit at the desk for several hours, perhaps stopping to light candles or meditate or whatever. But I think I’d probably end up putting a lot of things in alphabetical order and not actually getting much work done. I write in between other work commitments (I co-run a creative writing school, teach workshops there and elsewhere, and also do some editorial work), and sometimes I’m lucky enough to get a couple of mornings a week to slot in writing (or revising). There’s usually quite a lot of tea, too.

LP: What would you identify as your influences?

CH: I find it really tricky to identify influences – I’ve been writing since I was a kid, so there wasn’t one book or author or ‘literary movement’ that made me decide I was going to Be A Writer. I suppose I’m definitely conscious of Irish women’s writing of the last 15 years especially – both ‘commercial’ and ‘literary’ (my three big favourites are Marian Keyes, Emma Donoghue and Anne Enright) – and American YA fiction.

LP: The first issue of Banshee has just been released, how do you feel that being an active writer affects your input as an editor?

CH: I think it makes you both more critical and more sympathetic, depending on the day. More critical because you know what early-draft stories look like, where a writer hasn’t quite pushed themselves to the next stage (as opposed to a ‘ah sure you’re great for finishing something!’ mentality), and more sympathetic because you know how much work people put into their writing and that sinking feeling you get when an email pings into your inbox with a ‘no thank you’ response.

It impacts more the other way around, though – I sometimes feel all writers should take a turn going through a submissions pile. It makes you so conscious of how to grab a reader’s attention and how to avoid clichéd openings or endings.

LP: You write both short stories and flash fiction. Could you speak a little about your feelings on the specific merits of these individual practices for you as a writer?

CH: Flash fiction is intense and precise. It’s like poetry. It’s easier to try out new things – either content wise or stylistically – in flash. It’s a quick punch and it’s done. Short stories are really hard. They’re miniature worlds and everything matters and you need an awful lot in there, but not too much. It’s such a tricky balancing act. But it’s very satisfying to whip one into shape. You’ve made a thing. That’s a pleasing accomplishment.

LP: When you sit down to write a story, do you sit with a clear map of where your characters are going to go, or do you start at a point and see where it takes you?

CH: It really depends. With ‘Small Rebellions I knew exactly where the end-point was – I think endings are important and I usually have a clear sense of what they need to be at an early stage. You’re always working towards an ending.

LP: Being an Irish person reading ‘Small Rebellions’, I found a familiarity in the use of language that really hit home, especially in the dialogue. Do you consider the ‘Irishness’ of your language as you’re writing or in the editing stages?

CH: I don’t ‘consider’ it but it definitely creeps in there. I’m probably more confident about the Irishness of my work than I used to be – it can feel a bit parochial to capture a particular dialect but on the other hand, all of our characters can’t be earnest Brooklyn hipsters.

LP: ‘In Small Rebellions’, the information that we receive about the characters, especially Lucy, is very much contained to what is happening within the time-frame of the story. Is this a conscious effort re backstory that you made when writing? 

CH: Being wary of backstory is probably one of those things that comes from having an editor-eye on other people’s work. I think it’s a really common thing to see too much backstory, especially on the first page or two of a story, and it always raises the question of, well, if all this interesting stuff happened to the character before this story begins, why are we starting it here? The question of ‘when to start’ is an important one. And then the background information needs to be relevant to what’s happening ‘now’ – so, for ‘Small Rebellions’, it felt like we definitely needed a sense of Conor in his element, to help contextualise their relationship. I think most other things can be implied.

A note from Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Matthews: Thank you to Claire and Laura for what will be the first in a fantastic series of interviews. Writers who are interested in contributing work to Long Story, Short Journal should note that the submissions period ends 31 October 2015. Guidelines here.


Claire Hennessy is a writer, creative writing facilitator, and editor based in Dublin. She is the author of several novels for young adults and children, and is currently working on a collection of short fiction for adults, supported by an Arts Council bursary. She can be found online at or on Twitter (@clairehennessy).

laura perrem photo

Laura Perrem is a Fine Art graduate of the Crawford College of Art and Design. She practices in both visual and written media. Her written practice includes poetry, short stories and art criticism. She has had poetry published in the Belleville Park Pages and is working towards her first collection of poetry.

The featured photo from the October 2015 issue of Long Story, Short Journal is by Marianna Santikou. Marianna Santikou is a 19-year old photographer, living in the suburbs of Athens, Greece. Her interest in photography began in 2009, when she started taking simple photographs mostly of still life and nature. She quickly discovered her passion for portraiture, which she has been practicing ever since, focusing on self-portraits. She has been featured in many magazines and blogs, and her work has been accepted in PhotoVogue Italia. Greatly inspired by the works of Steven Meisel, Tim Walker and Alex Stoddard. View more of her work at