Writing Short Stories with Cynan Jones

Write and edit a complete short story and learn essential fiction-writing techniques on Curtis Brown Creative’s brand new six-week online course, Writing Short Stories led by award-winning short story writer Cynan Jones. Cynan won the Betty Trask award for his novel The Long Dry and he won BBC National Short Story Award in 2017, for which he was on the 2019 judging panel . His short stories have appeared in a variety of anthologies and in journals and magazines including Granta and the New Yorker.

We interviewed Cynan to find out more about his love of short fiction…

You won the BBC National Short Story Prize for your story The Edge of the Shoal in 2017 and now you’re on this year’s judging panel for the prize. How does it feel to come full circle? And what do you look for when reading short stories for competitions?

Judging the competition has certainly pointed out what an extraordinary thing it was to win. Ultimately, all a writer can do is write as strongly as he or she can, and work on a story until it’s the best possible piece they can produce. What happens to that story is a product of the work and attention put in. If nothing else, I know I’ve really worked hard to write strongly. In many ways then, it feels less of a circle and more of a starting point! What next? I’m always aiming to challenge myself.

The sense a writer has challenged him or herself is in the best stories too. You read great pieces and think, ‘How!? How did they write that?’ Such stories feel both totally impossible to write, but as if they couldn’t be written better.

When reading stories for competitions I look for that. Stories that take narrative risks and show the technical ability to make those risks pay off. That’s much rarer than you think.

What initially inspired you to start writing in short fiction?

I think several elements led me to shorter forms. Firstly, the thing of reading a story from start to finish in one sitting. I loved that as a reader and – as most of us are copyists when we first start writing – wanted to replicate that experience.

I also think that, even in my initial attempts at serious writing, the way my prose hit the page lent itself to shorter form. I aimed always to put a picture down as simply and powerfully as I could and relied on the reader to think and feel in response. That meant I didn’t write a great deal of explanation or back story, or direct a reader how to react. In itself, that makes for fewer words.

In retrospect, perhaps too there were constraints as to how long I could really dedicate to the process of writing when I first started. I usually had about three months for writing at the beginning of the year before the freelance work I did at the time really got going. Perhaps that made me feel I needed to write something I could start and finish in one block. (Which loops back to the first thing I mentioned here, about the immersive experience of starting and finishing something in one go.)

We’re thrilled to have you on board as the teacher of our brand-new Writing Short Stories course. What’s your favourite part of teaching?

Probably how teaching makes you dig into your own process and really work to understand it so you can pass what you know on.

Other than the help of the world-class authors I read, I taught myself to write. Because of that, it’s only since teaching that I’ve really dissected exactly what it is I do, and that’s helped me take things further.

Could you share your top three tips for writers who want to start writing short stories?

Read.

Work at the craft.

Don’t write to be published.

Read the full interview with Cynan over on the Curtis Brown Creative blog.

Curtis Brown Creative’s brand new Writing Short Stories course led by Cynan Jones is open now for enrolment. It starts on October 17th 2019.

Short Stops readers can get an exclusive 10% off by using code: SHORTSTOPSCBC

 

Free Membership @JerichoWriters – LISP 4th Quarter 2018 News!

Writers! We have great news.

The London Independent Story Prize 4th Quarter Deadline is on 12th November 2018.  And beside the £200 cash prize, our winner will also receive One-Year Membership from Jericho Writers, which is worth £195.00!

LISP is accepting 300 Word Flash Fiction stories NOW! Deadline is coming, so hurry up.

Don’t miss the great prizes!

Jericho Writers is a club for writers, created by writers. They organise wonderful courses, webinars, one-to-one agent meetings, and great events that you can extend your network.

Simply, Jericho Writers is helping writers to get published.

Click to read the success stories!

Could you be next?

Please click the link to find out more about this wonderful platform!

AND CLICK HERE TO SUBMIT YOUR STORY !!

Shooter seeks submissions for “Rivalry”

Shooter Literary Magazine invites submissions of short fiction, non-fiction and poetry on the theme of “Rivalry” for its winter 2018 issue.

Writers should submit stories, essays, memoir, reported narratives and poetry on anything to do with competition, antagonism, warring forces and individual foes. The context might be sports, business, romance, politics, survival; the characters might be students, frenemies, parents, current and former lovers, courtroom opponents. As ever, the theme is open to wide interpretation.

Please visit https://shooterlitmag.com/submissions for guidelines; deadline is November 11th, 2018. Successful writers will hear from us within a few weeks of the deadline, if not before, and receive payment and a copy of the issue following publication. Due to the volume of submissions we no longer send rejection emails.

The 2018 Shooter Poetry Competition is also now open, with a discounted three-poem entry fee. Find guidelines for entering the competition at https://shooterlitmag.com/poetry-competition.

Deadline Day is Coming! London Independent Story Prize

Just a few days left until the Deadline! 10th of January!

Polish those 300-word short-short stories and take your chance. Become a part of this wonderful community of writers and storytellers. Take the chance of winning the prize! Give your story a chance to be recognised.

Check out the 2018 Calendar from here LISP.

LISP judges are looking for strong and unique voices, check out the interviews with the judges on the website.

‘Originality must come from other resources: from one’s own voice, personality, character.’ Luis Pizarro, LISP judge.

‘Given that the story can only be 300 words, I am looking for something beyond the ephemeral, a story that will make an impression.’ James Kirchick, LISP judge.

‘LISP is based on creating a great community and, of course, all the writers who attend the competition will definitely be a part of this network. However, winners are winners, and they will have the greatest advantage. First of all, the prize and publication, and when you win a competition, it means that your pen has been recognised, which is a great feature for any writer. Not only while trying to reach agents or publishers, but also the personal satisfaction is priceless. Especially for young writers, it’s a way to build confidence.

As an award winner, I can also say that it helps you to improve. Now you see that you can write things that others appreciate as well, which encourages you to be even bolder.’ Ozge Gozturk, LISP founder.

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

 

Spelk: Open for Submissions

Spelk is open for submissions.

Our current reading period is February 14 to March 12.

We will let you know by mid-March if your story has been accepted.

Submission guidelines: http://spelkfiction.com/submit-2/

Please keep the following in mind if you’d like to send us something:

  • We publish flash fiction — 500 words, give or take.
  • We’ll consider just about any genre: we’re not fussy if it’s “literary” or “non-literary.” If we like it, we’ll publish it.
  • We don’t publish poetry or non-fiction.
  • We post three stories a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • We want previously unpublished stories. If you’ve got something good, we want it to appear on Spelk first.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, but let us know if you place your story somewhere else.
  • We don’t accept multiple submissions, so just one story at a time please.
  • We don’t pay. Sorry.
  • You retain all rights to your story, but we’d like to archive it on our site.
  • Spell-check your story before you send it. Proof it. Make sure it’s the best you can make it.
  • Send us a Word document and include a short bio at the end of your story. Let us know if you’re on Facebook or Twitter, or if you have your own website.
  • Email your story to Gary Duncan at spelkfiction@gmx.com (subject line: SUBMISSIONS — “STORY TITLE”).

Words Away January Salon: Writing Short Stories with Stella Duffy

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Words Away is a new series of monthly creative writing salons taking place at the Tea House Theatre Cafe in London. Each month, over tea and cake or a glass of wine, writers Emma Darwin and Kellie Jackson meet up with a different guest author for a focussed discussion on aspects of writing fiction. The audience plays a key part in the evening; exchanging ideas, asking questions and with a chance to socialise after.

We have some great guests lined up for 2017 including, Ruth Ware, Essie Fox, Sara Grant and Francis Spufford.

Our next salon, Writing Short Stories with Stella Duffy, is on Monday 23rd January at 7.30pm. All welcome.

Venue: Tea House Theatre Cafe, 139 Vauxhall Walk, London, SE11 5HL

Cost: £10 to book online or or £12 on the door.

For more info and to book: wordsaway.info

Working Dogs ‘International’ Short Story Competition 2015

The very best 2015 competition entries have been published in one anthology entitled ‘Last Call & other short stories’ which features fictitious canines portrayed in many different roles – companion, hero, fighter, helper – from Swiss mountain ranges to small-town Canada, across urban and rural landscapes – providing the reader with a compelling variety of tales and countless memorable journeys. Naturally, we think this would make a ‘novel’ gift for any dog owner or short story enthusiast!

A compelling variety of tales and countless memorable journeys.

A compelling variety of tales and countless memorable journeys.

Encouraging this theme provided a broad canvas of possibility whilst highlighting the potential and positive impact canine companions have on human lives.  We were delighted with the global reach of the competition as we promoted a worldwide submissions policy, reflecting our interest in talented writers regardless of geography.

Congratulations to the prizewinners and many thanks to all who entered the competition -visit www.ouenpress.com to view the FINAL RESULTS.

London-based Guardian newspaper journalist and author, Robert Hull won top place in for his work ‘Last Call’. Other prizewinners were fellow British journalist Jane Connolly, for Old Tricks and Canadian author, Claire Lawrence for God’s Dog Day.

Having seen the interest this competition has generated with both experienced writers and those new to the short story form, it is our intention to run an annual competition.

Deadline dates and next year’s theme will be made available on our website early in 2016 – or you may wish to check in with us on Twitter @OuenP  for more regular updates on future competitions and all our other activities.

Good luck with your writing projects and very best for the festive season!

Ouen Press team

Thinking of crowdfunding your short stories?

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Although it’s been around for a little while now, there’s still a slight wariness from writers considering the crowdfunding route as a way of getting their next set of short stories published. This is the route that allows writers to generate financial support from their personal and professional networks in exchange for physical rewards, and is emerging as an invaluable marketing tool for self-publishing authors as well as insightfully gauging the interest of a book early on, directly from potential readers.

‘It’s too much work’, ‘It’s not as prestigious’, ‘I might not get as much return for my book’ are all responses you might hear cautious authors giving as they assess their options. And for some books this might be true, but for others, crowdfunding is the route they wish was available years ago.

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The great thing about crowdfunding is that it’s the only form of publishing where readers can obtain the book directly from the author. It connects readers to the person behind the imagination, it attracts writers that are truly passionate about writing and sharing it with their readers, and it also invites readers to take ownership of what they love to read rather than simply judging a book from the safe confines of a bookshop.

You may not become the most famous author through the crowdfunding route, but you’ll certainly be able to grow a strong community of people committed to supporting your work. In addition, the satisfaction of shaping each stage of the writing, design and sharing of your literary masterpiece could be truly fulfilling.

‘With the introduction of crowdfunding, self-publishing no longer has to be a solo venture’. Positive Writer

And that’s where we come in. Here at GOODFRUIT we aim to address the two biggest hurdles to publishing and selling a book – obtaining funding and sourcing expertise. You’ll be able to gain both of these during your crowdfunding campaign through offering rewards in return for financial support (such as a copy of the book), as well as raising a team to help you (graphic designer, editor, printer).

So if you’re a budding or veteran writer we’d love to hear from you. Take a browse of the GOODFRUIT Lewis Literary Contest we’re launching – a contest searching for three writers who want to publish a story or publication they have written or working on. The GOODFRUIT Literary Contest will be calling for short story writers (including other genres) to step into the shoes of inspiring authors in history, to write and publish books with imagination and meaning, to challenge the hearts of readers and to bring their stories to fruition.

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Deadline: 23rd September

Rules and Entry Information: http://goodfruit.co/community/the-goodfruit-literary-contest/

Email literarycontest@goodfruit.co with any question

Dee Atkins is the Community Manager for GOODFRUIT, a new kind of crowdfunding platform where people pledge funds or skills to bring ideas enriching culture to fruition. Our mission is to make it as easy as possible for culturemakers (entrepreneurs, creators, authors) to launch and scale ideas/businesses. Dee loves a good book, second-hand stores and putting on new socks. dee@goodfruit.co

 

That Killer First Page – Submitting to Competitions and Journals

 That Killer First Page – Submitting to Competitions and Journals

Crescent Arts Centre

2-4 University Street

Belfast BT7 1NH

August 5th. 10am-1pm

Tickets: here

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This year Paul is judging:

The Penny Dreadful Novella Prize alongside Sara Baume and Colin Barrett. Deadline: Sept 30.

The I is Another Short Story Competiton from Holland Park Press alongside Laura Del-Rivo. Deadline: Aug 31.

The sole judge of the Bare Ficton Short Story Prize. Deadline: Oct 31.

 

Content

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.

Focus:
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 journals inc The Stinging Fly and anthologies and been commissioned by BBC Radio 4. He has read his work for BBC Radio 5, at the International Conference on the Short Story in Vienna, Belfast Book Festival and the Cork International Short Story Festival. Upcoming at Wroclaw Short Story Festival, Poland.

Reviews for his writing:
“Absolutely loved it. The voice of that story is so arresting.” Jackie Kay
“Beautiful and very moving.” Booker shortlisted Alison Moore
“Its such a clever story, gentle, poignant, emotionally straight as a dart.” Vanessa Gebbie
“(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 short story blog shares writing opportunities and advice and gets 40,000 hits a month internationally. He’s interviewed short story masters like Kevin Barry, Cate Kennedy, Laura van den Berg, Elizabeth McCracken and George Saunders. Paul co-founded and has been the Director of London Short Story Festival for the last 2 years and is Associate Director at Word Factory, the UK’s leading short story literary salon. He is a reader and judge for national and international short story competitions.

This event sold out in Melbourne at Writers Victoria, Waterstones Piccadilly, London and Cork World Book Festival.

 Comments on this class:

“Fantastic! Practical, targeted advice like this is wonderful!”
“This was my fav course yet! Informative, entertaining, and engaging. Hard to beat.””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.”

Paul’s debut novel ‘The Good Son’ is out with Salt Publishing.

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

‘Outstanding.’ Granta Best Young Novelist Toby Litt

‘I was blown away… A wildly important new talent.’ Laura van den Berg

‘One of those characters you believe in with all your heart.’ Booker shortlisted Alison Moore

‘Establishes McVeigh as an important new Irish voice.’ Lucy Caldwell

Places are limited to 20

FOR CONCESSIONS and for discount for taking both his Crescent Arts Centre classes PLEASE EMAIL: paulmcveigh@writer.co.uk

Future Way: Call for Submissions

Calling all doodlers, ponderers, writers, poets and dreamers!

Submit a short story for a chance to be part of an exciting and unique, collaborative public art project in Redcliffe, Bristol.


Following the success of the Bristol Story Trail earlier in the year, get ready for Future Way brought to you by Dream of a Shadow, an online project bridging the gap between reality and fantasy through storytelling.

Working with The Redcliffe Neighbourhood Development Forum (@MoreRedcliffe), Future Way seeks to engage the people of Redcliffe and the wider community of Bristol through a playful and exciting exploration of the area using storytelling.

This is an amazing opportunity for published authors and budding writers in Bristol to collaborate with artists, architects and community groups in a first-of-its-kind, art project which challenges the way we view our city.

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Contributors are encouraged to think about how Redcliffe may be used in the future and set tales within this. Because of the nature of the project, the brief is quite specific and submissions must meet the following criteria:

  • All entries must be set in the future Redcliffe area (how far is up to you)
  • All entries should be in 3-5 sections of 250 words (max) each, forming a trail through the area
  • Each section is planned to be tagged to a specific point within Redcliffe, i.e. a wall, lamp post, street, door etc.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 20th April 2015, so there’s plenty of time to get writing.


Please look at the website for the full brief before getting the pens out!

For any queries tweet us @DoaSLiveFiction and be sure to follow to stay up to date!

Happy writing and good luck!

Bristol Story Trail Needs Writers!

Calling all doodlers, ponderers, writers, poets and dreamers!

Get ready for the Bristol Story Trail (starting 15th Feb 2015) brought to you by Dream of a Shadow, an online project bridging the gap between reality and fantasy through storytelling.

Dream of a Shadow is collaborating with published authors and budding writers in Bristol to map the city through the magic of storytelling in an event running alongside Bristol Storyfest 2015.

The more creative minds, the better. So we are currently looking for short story submissions from you – these can be as little as 50 words, or up to 1000 and should be based in Bristol (loosely in the area around Spike Island).

So take a moment and get involved in writing the city!

All stories submitted will be included in the Bristol Story Trail alongside several other writers as well as in exhibitions later in the year, with any contributors fully credited and promoted. For more information, or to email your submissions contact livingfictionbristol@gmail.com

Don’t have time to contribute? No worries – you can still get involved and discover the city of Bristol through some wonderful short works of fiction! Follow us on Twitter to find out how, and spread the word… @DoaSLiveFiction #BristolStoryTrail #WritingTheCity and keep an eye out for new stories on the Bristol Story Trail website

 

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WORDS AND WOMEN’S COMPETITION WINNERS ANNOUNCED!

Lora Stimson, who studied creative writing at Norwich School of Art & Design and the UEA is the winner of this year’s Words and Women’s contemporary writing prize in the East of England.

The quality of the 170 entries was very high and there was a broad range of theme and style with women of all ages submitting prose from across the East.  Lora Stimson wins £600 for her original and quietly compelling short story, Cornflake Girl, which will feature in the second Words and Women anthology published in March this year. Lora’s story will appear alongside other highly commended selected entries and the four newly commissioned texts for ‘About,’ an Arts Council supported project which explores the relationship between women and place.

Lora has published stories and poems with Nasty Little Press, Unthank Books, Ink, Sweat and Tears and Streetcake Magazine. In 2014 she was mentored by novelist Shelley Harris as part of the WoMentoring scheme. Her first novel, about sex, grief and model villages, currently hides in a drawer. She has higher hopes for her second novel, about twins, which received an Arts Council England grant and is now in its final edit. Lora works as a programme manager for Writers’ Centre Norwich and sings with the bands Moonshine Swing Seven and The Ferries. She lives in Norwich with her husband and son.

Other prizewinners who will be published in the anthology, include Norwich-based Anna Metcalfe for The Professor, Hannah Garrard for Did You Eat Lunch? Melinda Appleby for Footprints on the Tideline, Julianne Pacheco for Kurt Cobain’s Son, Radhika Oberoi for The Reporter, as well as Patricia Mullin for The Siren and Thea Smiley who will appear twice, with her short story Magazines and her performance text, Holding Stones. A further 16 writers will also have their work included in the anthology.  For a full list of our winning writers please see our blog:  www.wordsandwomennorwich.blogspot.co.uk

The competition was judged by novelist Sarah Ridgard.

The launch of Words and Women: Two and performance of extracts from the ‘About’ Commissions’ will take place on Sunday, March 8th, on International Women’s Day at the Forum, in Norwich.

‘It has been another exciting read,’ said Belona Greenwood, co-organiser of Words and Women. ‘We had a hard time selecting our long list before handing the final responsibility for choosing the winners to this year’s judge, novelist Sarah Ridgard.  We have had a number of winning entries with some connection to the Creative Writing MA at the UEA which continues to bring new talent to Norfolk but entries have come in from all over the five counties displaying a great range of women’s voices.’

‘We judged the work anonymously and it was very exciting to find out the names of our winners at the end of this process. We have selected an outstanding mix of work, both fiction and non-fiction, and look forward to seeing it appear in Words and Women’s second anthology which will be published by Norwich based Unthank Books,’ said Lynne Bryan, Words and Women co-organiser.

Last year’s anthology was shortlisted for the national Saboteur Awards 2014. It has been praised as ’a bold and insightful collection containing much vigorous writing…’ Eastern Daily Press and ‘…a refreshing, vibrant collection that redefined the way I see women’s writing.’

Words and Women showcase women writers who live in the East of England, at all stages of their professional careers in an annual celebration of regional creativity on International Women’s Day, and through commissioning opportunities and an annual new writing prize.

See www.wordsandwomennorwich.blogspot.co.uk