Reading Short Stories

Every year Dahlia Publishing hosts two students from the University of Leicester for a 10 week placement. The scheme run by the university provides students with an opportunity to gain work experience in a small press to enhance their learning. Students often work remotely and are supported by editor Farhana Shaikh to pursue a personal project – something where they can channel their interests and make a difference. During the 2018/19 academic year we were joined by Amira Richards who had an interest in editing. Following our Short Story September project we were inviting short stories to read and Amira was keen to work on this. Our meetings were joyous – filled with passionate response for the work we’d pondered over, and often found ourselves battling with the question: what makes a short story?  Here’s Amira on what she learnt during the process… 

Writing short stories can be hard and surprisingly reading them can require the same kind of effort. From a personal perspective, knowing what to look for, what works about a story and what doesn’t is a process that one must discover for themselves. Everyone reads differently.

For my placement I have had the opportunity to read many submissions for Short Story September. I have really enjoyed learning what people like to write about and what urges them to produce a piece of work that will be read by other people. I have learnt that people like to write about the mundane but also the extraordinary and the little things in between. There are stories that captured my attention straight away, and others that left me feeling a little unsatisfied.

However, the most important thing I have learnt is that stories – especially short ones – need a purpose. They need to illustrate a clear message to the reader, which doesn’t have to be personal but nevertheless allows the reader to understand why the story was written. I found that the stories with a clear aim and purpose were the ones that were the most pleasant to read. I understood why the writer decided to send the story in and what they were trying to convey through each carefully formulated sentence.

“The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something that feels important to the reader.” ~ John Steinbeck

So when you write a short story, think about what you want to convey. I would love to see stories that not only show me something but also make me question myself as a reader. And while short stories can lack the detail and intricate backstories of longer works, in my opinion, a good ending makes a short story. Think about how you want to end your story and how it relates to the content as a whole. After all, they are short for a reason. But short doesn’t mean lesser just as long doesn’t guarantee better. I look forward to reading more short stories in the future and urge writers to never stop practising.

Amira Richards is currently reading English at University of Leicester. 

Dahlia Publishing is currently inviting submissions to the Leicester Writes Short Story Prize 2019 until 15th April 2019.

The Walter Swan Short Story Prize (Competition)

The Walter Swan Short Story Prize, run by the Northern Short Story Festival and Leeds Big Bookend in partnership with the Walter Swan Trust, is now open for entries. Judges are Anna Chilvers and Angela Readman.

We are looking for great new short stories. Around twenty selected short stories will be published in our anthology, to be published by Valley Press in May 2018, and three winners will be awarded cash prizes. There is no theme and you do not have to live in the North of England to enter.

“The common themes throughout Walt’s life were kindness, warmth and humour. He was always sociable and had a great talent for friendship. Much of his time was dedicated to others as a family member, friend, teacher and director, and he provided support, encouragement and inspiration in each of these roles. Walt was passionate about creative writing of all genres and, although he was extremely talented in his own right, it is his enthusiasm for the work of others which is the legacy that the Walter Swan Trust now aims to continue.”

1st Prize £200

2nd Prize £100

3rd Prize £50

Enter using our Submittable link here. See the Big Bookend website for further T&Cs.

Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition 2017

Tuesday 1st August 2017 sees the launch of the sixth biennial Ruth Rendell Short Story Competition hosted by the award-winning charity InterAct Stroke Support.

The short story competition was first launched in 2008 and the challenge remains the same: writers are requested to write a piece, in any genre, in no more than 1000 words. The winner of the competition will write four further stories for InterAct Stroke Support over the course of one year and will receive £1000.

The closing date for submissions is Friday 22nd December 2017 and first place will be awarded at the winner’s ceremony in 2018 (date and venue to be confirmed).

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Baroness Ruth Rendell, a beloved patron, judge and friend of InterAct put her name to the award after the first short story competition in 2008 and sadly passed away in 2015. The competition continues to inspire writers in her honour.

 

InterAct Stroke Support is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting stroke recovery by using professional actors to deliver hospital readings and community projects. InterAct specialises in delivering stimulating and inspiring short stories specially selected to suit the needs of stroke patients.  The readings are designed to assist recovery by improving mood, stimulating the brain and providing a much-needed creative outlet.

Stories of any genre can be submitted by email or post and the submission fee is £15.00 per story. Please find more details and terms and conditions of entry on the InterAct Stroke Support website: www.interactstrokesupport.org/news

 

The Elbow Room Prize 2016

The Elbow Room Prize has returned for a second year to celebrate art in all guises. The deadline is Sunday the 14th of August at midnight GMT.

We at Elbow Room a delighted to return with The Elbow Room Prize for a second year. With the deadline fast approaching we want to make sure everyone has had their chance to enter. We love short fiction of every kind at Elbow Room and can think of nothing more enjoyable than poring over well crafted fiction from every genre, style and subject out there.

The prize will culminate in a London based exhibition, reading and anthology publication. We once again look forward to receiving and sharing your gems with the world.

For more details about the event take a look at The Elbow Room Prize 2015.

The Elbow Room Prize 2015 anthology is available for sale in our shop, www.elbow-room.org/shop

Winners will be notified by Wednesday the 30th of September via email and will be publicised on the website soon after.

The event will be held towards the end of October and will be publicised after the winners are announced.

The Judging Panel:

Zelda Chappel grew up in London and the South of England. She is co-curator at Elbow Room. She writes, often on the back of things and never in black ink. Her work has been published in a number of publications both online and in print. in 2014, Zelda won the Battered Moons Poetry Competition. Her debut collection, Girl in the Dog-tooth Coat was published by Bare Fiction in 2015.

Harry Denniston is a short story writer, poet and playwright currently based in London. His work has been published in places such as Elbow RoomInky NeedlesDactyl and Quick Fictions, and his plays have been performed in London, Norwich and Edinburgh. Harry was one of the inaugural Elbow Room Prize winners.

Rosie Sherwood is an artist, scholar and independent publisher. As the heart of Sherwood’s interdisciplinary practise is a fascination with time and a desire to tell stories. In 2012 Sherwood founded As Yet Untitled and started publishing Elbow Room. Sherwood graduated from Camberwell College of Arts with an MA in Book Arts in 2013. She has delivered conference papers and University lectures across the country. Sherwood has taken part in artist book fairs, as well as group and solo exhibition, most recently at the Southbank Centre. Sherwood’s work can be found in special collections including The Poetry Library, Tate Library and Archive and the national libraries of both Victoria and Queensland (Australia).

Categories

For full details on each category and how to enter please visit our website www.elbow-room.org

Poetry

(For full details on submitting your poetry to The Elbow Room Prize click HERE or on POETRY box)

Prose

(For full details on submitting your short fiction to The Elbow Room Prize click HERE or on SHORT FICTION box)

Visual Arts

(For full details on submitting your visual arts to The Elbow Room Prize click HERE or on VISUAL ARTS box)

Prizes

For each category:

First prize in each category: £200

Second and third prizes in each category: £50 each

All winners will be published in a special competition anthology edition of Elbow Room.

All winners will be featured in a London based exhibition and live event.

 

FAQ (for all categories)

You do not have to be a London (or even UK) based artist/writer to enter. If your work is selected and you are unable to attend or transport your work to the event, solutions will be found to ensure you are featured.

All entries will be judged anonymously so it is important that your name does not appear anywhere on the work itself.

Visual Arts include (but are not limited to) Painting, Printmaking, Photography, Drawing, Illustration, Sculpture, Video Arts, Animation, Books Arts and mixed media pieces. If you are unsure if your work qualifies please do not hesitate to contact us.

For the visual arts category we are classifying a piece of work as a single image, video, sculpture or object. This can include a book (or similar) that includes multiple images within it so long at they are contained/bound together. If you are unsure if your work qualifies do not hesitate to contact us for further details.

The visual arts submissions will be being judged as the based on the quality of the original piece of work rather than how it will appear in publication format. If multiple images of the same piece of work are needed to best display it for the judges (eg an installation or sculptor) that is completely acceptable.

We will happily accept work by artists and writers working collaboratively, please simply include all your names and biographical details in the body of your email. Please do not hesitate to contact us for further details if required.

The piece submitted can be from a larger body of work or series. If this is the case please indicate in the description of the work.

Any video art or animation entrees must be no longer than 20 minutes.

If your work is untitled that is fine but please clearly state this.

Any further questions can be sent to elbowroomsubmissions@gmail.com with the subject line Elbow Room Competition Question.

Elbow Room reserves the right to change the judging panel or not to award prizes.

We reserve the right to use your work to promote the event but all copyright remains with the writers/artists.

Small Wonder Short Story Festival

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Don’t miss out on Small Wonder – the jewel in the crown of short fiction calendar!

Running from 28 September to 2 October at Charleston, the Bloomsbury home of art and ideas, nestled in the South Downs in East Sussex (shuttle buses to and from Lewes Station for every event).

Catch Ali Smith receiving the Lifetime’s Excellence in Short Fiction Award and a new generation of prize-winning writers including Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInerney, Kei Miller and Petina Gappah. Lionel Shriver, Elif Shafek and Salley Vickers pay tribute to Charlotte Brontë, and actress Juliet Stevenson reads Poems the Make Grown Women Cry. Join in The Literary Death Match and the Short Story Slam and hone your own writing skills in creative writing workshops.

Browse the programme and book tickets now!

AMBIT summer competition 2016

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Ambit Magazine announces the launch of its 2016 Short Fiction and Poetry Competition

We are looking for the most exciting flash fiction (up to 1000 words) and if you write poetry – you can submit that too (max 42 lines per poem). There’s no theme – just send us your best work on any subject, in any style. We wish you luck!

Prizes

First place prize in each category will be £500, second place £250, and third £100.

All six prize-winning pieces will be published in issue 226 of Ambit Magazine, and winners will be invited to read at the launch on 25 October 2016 in London.

Deadline

The competition open as of 1 May, closing on 1 July.

The winners will be announced on our website www.ambitmagazine.co.uk

Entry Details

Online submissions, all rules and guidelines are here – www.ambit.submittable.com

If you want to enter by post, or to find out about our fabulous judges David Gaffney for fiction, Sarah Howe for poetry, go to this page on our website:
www.ambitmagazine.co.uk/ambit-summer-competition-2016

All judging will be done strictly anonymously.

University of Leicester 2015 Short Story Competition

The Vaughan Centre for Lifelong Learning is delighted to announce our 2015 Short Story Competition for previously unpublished writers.

Writing Competition 2015

As in 2014, the competition is only open to writers whose home address has an LE postcode.

Stories can be in any genre and on any subject.

£300 – Creative Writing prize (open to entrants aged 18 and over).

£100 – Junior Prize (open to entrants aged between 14 and 17)

Winning stories and runners-up will appear in a short anthology and on the University of Leicester Website.

Deadline for entries    11th September 2015

No entry charge

We are after stories no longer than 2500 words, and each competitor can only submit one story. The story must be an original piece of imaginative storytelling – no factual or autobiographical material. Otherwise there are no limits on what you can write. Your story can be in any genre or style. We’re looking for well-told, lively, interesting tales, that’s all. For further details, please see our competition webpage