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