Writing Competitions Page-1

Short Story Competitions and Flash Fiction helpful information

Our short story writing competitions are a great way to get published. All top winners will be entered into the year or biyearly anthology (even if you are not a member). Win! 

Scores are based on: Interest, Plot, Style, Character, Settings, Grammar/Spelling, fit to theme, and publishibility. Don't be scared off by all the criteria. Instead, write the best story you can, and the judges will take care of the rest.

Enter HERE

Flash Fiction is Mostly For Fun

Win Cash Prizes Too

Are you ready for the challenge?

 

It’s true we all love to linger over a favourite novel in comfy slippers and a cup of hot cocoa, but if it’s 50, 100, 200, 300 or up to 1000 words, a well-crafted story can pack a mighty punch.  

 

Even at  100 words a story can zing. It’s all in the showing (and telling), using the ABDCE structure:  action, background/ inciting action, development/rising actions, climax, ending (the characters should be significantly different).

Enter HERE

Read the most recent short story winners' stories HERE

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RAY Comp  16.12.2021

RAY Comp 16.12.2021

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Breaking the Code - World Writers Collective

Breaking the Code - World Writers Collective

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Hot Tips From Experienced Writers

Also see our editing tips HERE

 

 

Prowling about the rooms, sitting down, getting up, stirring the fire, looking out the window, teasing my hair, sitting down to write, writing nothing, writing something and tearing it up . . .

Charles Dickens

 

Hot Tips - Mat Clarke
I hope these few notes will give you an interesting insight into writing and editing. First, a few notes about me. I began writing at the age of ten. I've always enjoyed tapping away on my keyboard and making stories come to life. I created World Writers Collective so we could display our work and connect with other writers. I also run Melbourne Writers Social Group alongside many other creatives who are all passionate about writing and enjoy connecting with writers.


In 2011 I came up with the idea for an event where we would all get together and write using prompts. I called it, Writing Games. I also created a book with many of the prompts I had created through the years while running the events, which you can download for free HERE


I mention this because it is great way to break out of your comfort zone, while being prompted on what needs to be included within your story. Doing this, and within a 30 minute time limit, forces you to write without thinking and allows you to create something you may never thought you were capable of. The great thing is that it does not matter if what you write within those 30 minutes is complete crap, because often you can use the idea that came forth from your subconscious and onto you page and use it in a piece that you really wanted to write. Much of the time what I write during these sessions turns out to be a "fun" piece. Something that makes me laugh and is so crazy I can tell I enjoyed myself while writing it. The people I write with often share similar experiences.


While writing, if the story becomes boring or does not feel as if it is going anywhere, then throw in a new character and see how your other characters react. If there is no reaction, then create an over exaugurated personality within one or all of the characters to force a situation. You can always rein it back in later during your edits. That's the beauty of editing; you are allowed to change what you originally wrote. That's how your first draft of crazy plots becomes a polished story.


Speaking of editing, you should always have people read your work and give you feedback. It does not have to be a writer who reads your piece, instead it can be a friend. However, tell your friend to only get back to you on what they did not like about your story, not the stuff they liked. That will hopefully make them not say: yeah, that was good. And give you little else.

 

Friends and family do that. Which makes them terrible critiques of your work. However, if that is all you have, then go with it.


Another good idea is to come to our writer groups and read your work out www.meetup.com/Melbourne-Writers. Or connect with people who are willing to read your work (generally you'll have to read their work and give feedback as well, making it a fair exchange). You can also connect with us via FACEBOOK


Also, you can contact Jeremy from Fernhill writers. They edit each other's work every fortnight. And if you do not live in Victoria, that's ok, they have online solutions: fernhill.writers@gmail.com
When writing short stories, it's best to keep to one character (maximum of three). You don't get a lot of space to establish a character's back story. So their personality needs to come from their actions and appearance. For example: Dirk yanked on the dog's lead and was rewarded with a yelp. He twisted his clean shaven face into a grin. 


In these few sentences we already know a lot about him. Keep it in mind when writing each sentence of your own.

 

I hope I helped you in a small way at least. Email me at matclarke.author@gmail.com if you have any questions or just want to say thanks. Often, that is what makes it all worthwhile. Cheers

 

Hot Tips - Ray Stone

Variety is the spice of life, so they say. It is also the spice of the reader. There are writers a-plenty plotting, creating, and setting scenes with exciting characters performing acts of bravery or villains out to kill. Every writer chooses a genre they feel comfortable with. Every reader chooses two or three genres they like to read according to the mood they are in. From thriller to kitchen sink drama to romance, the readers' thirst is insatiable. To some writers, writing in two or three genres comes as second nature but to others it is like learning another language. Think how your work will be more quickly noticed if you write in several genres and a mixture of first and second person in short stories for example. 

Two years ago I published a book of short stories. My aim was to mix genres and tense in seven stories in 210 pages. My purpose was to see what interest readers would have and would sales equal or surpass my other books. I was pleased to find that my short story book became and still is the most popular book out of all those I have written so far. I think this proves a point to a certain degree - that if you can write in more than one genre on a regular basis the sooner you may become noticed by an agent or publisher.

 

Practice makes perfect and that is one reason - and probably the most important one why we have competitions. You have to write in different genres and tense. Your work can end up published. Your fellow members can discuss and advise. The message is that unless you write and show your work it will look very neat up on your shelf when it should be on someone else's shelf. My advice to any writer, either experienced or emerging - join us and enjoy expanding and polishing your writing skills within the pleasant company of like-minded writers.

If anyone would like to chat about the above or receive a copy of my short stories please contact me at raystoneauthor@gmail.com

 

Christmas is a time in which, of all times in the year, the memory of every remediable sorrow, wrong, and trouble in the world around us, should be active with us, not less than our own experiences, for all good.

Charles Dickens

Hot Tips - Magz Morgan

Musings from a Non-Guru’s Butterfly Net

 

Write hot, edit cold.

Write drunk, edit sober — Ernest Hemingway

 

 

After decades of random scratchings I gave myself permission to become a writer. That was after I burnt all my old work. Big, big mistake. I wrote my manuscript Motherlands in a year — and felt pretty chuffed. Then Pantera Press made short shrift of my initial foray. It sucked, my writing sucked and in writerly fashion, I set to work on a daily basis. After a further four years of editing and re-writing, I have sent my 99,000 words off to agents and publishers in the UK.

Nowadays, I have a row of little portable brown Moleskine notebooks dated by year. I carry one with me everywhere. It’s my butterfly catcher. The butterflies I’ve captured are ephemeral glimpses of life, fleeting snippets from overheard conversation, sudden insights into our inner lives, and the lives of those around us. I observe, I listen, I sense. Tayari Jones’ book, An American Marriage, was born out of an overheard conversation about mass incarceration in the context of a love story.

Write what should not be forgotten — Isabel Allende

 

Bottom line: Just write. Daily. Regularly. Set a timer, e.g. 20 minutes or a word count, e.g. 1000 words. If you are writing a short story of 2000 to 3000 words, you’ll have half or two-thirds of your—wait for it— first draft in that first session. If you are writing a novel, the average novel is 80,000 words. For a novel, that’s 3 months for your FIRST of many, many drafts. But your terrain will be set. (I have my handy notebook close by, but I write straight on the laptop and file my story scraps in designated folders).

After that, take some time off. Write something else. Give yourself some distance. Read a few books about writing (see my list below below). Attend some courses through Writers Victoria, or Coursera (online). Be patient, diligent and reach out to other writers.

 

In short, here are a few very basic tips for story writing, from a Non-Guru:

THE FIRST DRAFT

• Throw down a few words/ title / slogan/ sketched image to represent your story

• Write it out as fast as you can. Put it away until later.

• Next session, take a coloured pen / highlighter and mark out the key story points.

• Start your story as close to the end as you can. Craft a short sharp sentence or two — but don’t actually give away the ending. This will help you focus on the POINT of your story.

• Plan for that unexpected twist at the end of the piece.

 

THE PLOT

• Is the focus of your narrative character driven? or is it action driven?

• Follow the W-shaped pathway for all short stories and novels: we meet the character as a conflict arises, they spiral downwards, they rally upwards, they meet further challenges, they hit rock bottom, they overcome further challenges. The reader needs to see change.

• Decide how complex the story lines can be, given the limits of the short story.

 

BACK STORY and INFORMATION DUMPS

• Keep it short, sharp and relevant. It should not take the reader away from the action or the character.

 

CHARACTERISATION

• A short story can usually support two properly developed main characters; the others require no name and function as mirrors.

• Remember, the reader doesn’t have to like the character, but they do have to understand them.

• Don’t describe the main character/s. Allow them to show us what he/ she/ they is/are feeling/ experiencing, by things he/ she does or you can convey the main character’s thoughts in italics or in direct speech.

• Do not ‘head hop’ from one character’s mind to another’s. It is confusing and takes away from the power of the piece. You can show what secondary characters think by physical signals, or what characters say or do in response to each other.

 

DIALOGUE

• Its main purpose is to further the action or the characterisation.

• It slows the action, so be careful not to over-use it.

• Dialogue in prose is not the same as dialogue in life. It needs to seem natural and reflect the characterisation or the social mores, but it needs to be pared down to the essentials required to convey information about relationships, action, emotions etc. The standard niceties of daily speech are redundant.

 

POINT OF VIEW

• The writer needs to decide on a POV and stick to it throughout the work.

• First person brings a powerful intimacy to the writing, as in An American Marriage, told by three people in their own voice.

• Third person allows you, the writer more freedom.

• Second person requires enormous skill and is rarely seen.

 

VOICE

• Voice is an essential element of sound writing. Your voice as a writer, is your idiosyncratic style: the type of vocabulary/ dialect etc and sentence structure, the way you structure your passages, how you deliver portrayal of people and events

• If you choose to write a piece in a particular character’s voice—for example, a child’s—then that needs to be authentic and consistent.

 

 

In summary, you are taking the reader on a journey. In early drafts, they may not see what you are trying to tell them. Indeed, in the early stages, you may not have total clarity on what you are trying to express. Writing is like sculpting. You have an exciting, beautiful idea, but like a beautiful chunk of marble, until you explore, chisel and polish it, your audience will shoot past you and your moment will be diminished. My stepdaughter, Tina Douglas, is a respected artist who one day spotted a piece of my artwork and asked to see more. I hesitated. Her words were, ‘Maggie, just get it out there. You’ve gotta toughen up’.

In that moment, I understood that I was allowing my discomfort and embarrassment to paralyse me. Her words conveyed an artist’s insight into the creative act. I felt supported, re-invigorated and – discovered a new subject to write about.

 

Practicing an art form is a way to grow your soul – Kurt Vonnegut

My favourite resources on writing.

Writing Fiction, Gary Disher

Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon

The First Five Pages, Noah Lukeman

Save the Cat, Blake’s Blogs, Blake Snyder

Pity the Reader, Vonnegut & McConnell

The Elements of Style, Strunk & White (essential for editing, punctuation etc)

Write Hot, Edit Cold

theeditorsblog.net/2013/05/10/write-hot-edit-cold-its-still-great-advice

You might find these other articles on my website useful:

The Trials of the Writer

www.magzmorgan.com/single-post/2018/05/04/the-trials-of-the-writer-the-manuscript

There’s Good Stealing, and there’s Bad Stealing

www.magzmorgan.com/single-post/2018/02/23/theres-good-stealing-and-theres-bad-stealing

Hot Tips - Dr. Chun Kiu Ng

 

“It’s easy to forget to sleep when you’re working on something cool, so you just work as hard as you can and still there’s never enough time. The thing you got to learn is to let go.” – Monty Oum

 

Have you ever daydreamed of an alternate timeline where you were able to be a full-time writer? If you have and you’re reading this then you’re likely looking to get one step closer to making that a reality – that’s how I ended up here.

 

Don’t be afraid to say you’re a writer. When someone says they play basketball, we don’t ask them when they’re going to join the NBA. They could be playing casually with friends, playing regularly in a local league to keep fit, maybe they play as an amateur to challenge themselves, or perhaps they aim to go pro. There’s a weird social expectation that when someone says they’re a writer, they’re supposed to get published and be the next best-selling author – they mean well but it’s also a lot of pressure! Whatever hobbies we pursue, we all have our own individual goals and aspirations. Just make sure that what defines “success” for you is yours and not someone else’s – and then just DO IT!

 

Start small and build up gradually. If you’re putting pen-to-paper or smashing away on a keyboard, I’m betting there’s something passionate you want to share with others or for personal enjoyment. For me, I’m a big fantasy guy and when starting off, we write what we know as it’s the genre we’re most familiar with. The thing about fantasy though, is that it can go on forever without end. That’s how I ended up with a monstrous 300k long first draft of book one of a fantasy epic and had two major overhauls early on as it was my first serious attempt at writing. In hindsight, I would have started small with short stories and then build up to novellas to hone my writing skills before tackling a full-length novel. This is what I’m doing now as I want to do my stories justice, and to do that I need to be realistic about matching my writing ambitions with my current writing ability.

 

Write when you can. I’ll say it again; write when you can but its not an excuse to not write. I don’t know what your constraints or schedule is like or what writing process works well for you. Personally, I prefer writing on weekends where I edit the chapter I last wrote to ‘get in the zone’ which helps me pick up my train of thought on my character motivations and plot threads. This could take an hour in which I’ll spend another 2-3 hours writing a new chapter. Can I split this up in the workweek where overtime is more often the norm, cook, clean, exercise, etc? Speaking from experience, not without burning out no. Write when you can and learn what works best for you so that you can write in a sustainable way. It’s not your job (yet?), so don’t over prioritize it too much.

 

All writing advice is optional. That’s right, there are no writing rules set in stone, more like guidelines. What works for one writer may not work for another. Despite my advice above, a part of me still thinks “ignore starting small, go big or go home”. I had a blast writing every chapter of that 300k draft and it was an invaluable learning experience. There’s a lot of advice for new writers out there, like how they should write every day. Yes, building good habits is good but I can’t sit down for 15 minutes to work on my writing every day as it’s not efficient or productive for me. How do I know? Because I tried doing that, and it was the only way I’d know if it was good advice for me or not.  Same goes to you, stop reading about more writing advice and just write!

 

Feedback from writers and readers aren’t all the same. Just like watching a movie, the feedback from a movie director and from an audience member will focus on and reveal different things. I made the mistake of conflating feedback from readers as the same as what I would receive from writers. Never had my friends, who are well versed readers in the genre, brought up my issue of ‘head-hopping’. It was only in the feedback I received in my first WWC short story competition that I became aware it. I was surprised with a 3rd place finish with that short story (Pyrrhic Victory), which I had scrambled out from start-to-finish 10 hrs before the deadline on a last-minute whim of ‘why not?’. Best decision I’ve made as I’ve followed with four additional short stories in the WWC competitions with valuable feedback on how to improve my writing, met fellow enthusiastic writers at the 2018 Writers Symposium and part of the 2019 Anthology launch.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Maybe we’ll meet in person one day, crazier things have happened. If you’d like to chat, you can contact me here: www.facebook.com/chunkiu.ng

Hot Tips - Jo Stanford

I’ve just started the last, last draft of my first book. Maybe. And every time I rewrite it, I’m more proud of what I’ve created. There’s a good chance, however, I will be able to fit the amount of people who ever read it into an egg carton, but that's not the point. The point is I’ve loved almost every minute of the months (years) it's taken to write it, and the many lessons I’ve learnt along the way. 

After the first draft, I decided that I needed to learn how to actually write, so I did a few creative writing courses. These totally changed my perspectives and, with a bit of theoretical knowledge, improved my writing style. Hence draft two. 

Then I joined a writers group after some good advice and braved showing others my work. The feedback was detailed but fair. Draft three. 

Along the way, I was encouraged to branch out and write something different, partly to get my mind out of my novel and partly to practice my skills in different writing styles, characters, perspectives and storytelling. So I diligently started doing the writers group homework and created a few handfuls of short stories. Seeing the looks of curiosity and contentment on my readers' faces when I have the chance present them to group is as good as validation that I’m in the right place as any formal publishing, almost. 

I did eventually entered some short stories into a smattering of competitions, and I was lucky enough to have one published. It was only a glimmer of success, but enough to calm my nerves about seeking a publisher for my novel. 

Recently I had the novel manuscript professionally assessed and was provided with some more detailed feedback than ever before. Some good (thankfully) and some opportunities for improvement. 

So now I’m on rewrite four, so much more self-assured and knowledgable than when I first put fingers to keyboard all those years ago. There’s no doubt the confidence seeped into my skin from a range of experiences, with the short stories being a significant contribution. 

I’m not sure when I can call myself a writer. But I do write stuff, and other people sometimes read it, and maybe that’s good enough for me. 

I guess my hot tips are: 

 - get some theoretical knowledge, it really helps to understand how and why you are writing 

 - find other writers who will read your work

 - no matter what your big project is, small ones on the side can help to clear your mind and hone your skills. Jump into different styles and genres for some practice.

 

Happy writing. 

Jo

Hot Tips - Ander Louis

If you've come up with a brilliant plot for a short story, probably chuck it in the bin. Short stories aren't about plot. There shouldn't be things that happen - at least not more than a couple. Certainly not anything we'd consider a plot. A short story should dump the reader into a situation - don't explain that situation - and dump them into a place - although the place should remain relatively unexplained too - and with a person, who, yeah - is still a bit of a mystery. You're telling the reader (without saying it, of course): Wanna get to know this person? Wanna explore this place? Want to understand what this situation is that you're suddenly observing? Read on. Don't ever tell the reader those things up front. Just dump them in the time and place, and let them figure it out for themselves. Don't be a tour guide.

 

That's the approach, I reckon, but none of that matters. What matters is the theme. The idea. It needs to be a sticky one, and one you yourself don't fully understand as the author. You know what I mean by a sticky moment? Hard to explain, but here we go... Do you have a reoccurring thought? One that pops back up every year, or decade, or month or whatever -  and you find yourself going 'hmmm, here I am having this thought again...' Or better yet - a feeling like that. One that you feel like you could ponder forever, unravel it forever. It might even be something you don't like thinking about, for fear it might unravel too deeply. Here's one example off the top of my head: Gift giving among loved ones. (Apt, as I write this two days before Christmas). There is this sticky, sickly-almost sentimentality about giving and receiving gifts from a sibling especially. I'm every year telling my brother, mum, dad, everyone 'Don't give me anything I have to keep!' Probably sounds ungrateful, but when they give me a thing-gift, I feel like I have to keep it, but then I suddenly realise that I don't feel like that at all and I'd have no problem tossing it, but I feel like I should feel like I have to keep it, and it bothers me that I don't care that I don't feel like I should keep it. I wonder if I am ungrateful, or am I just so nostalgic - to my very core - that I have shut off all sense of nostalgia, because past certain thresholds nostalgia hurts when you feel it. I feel this complex and confusing feeling once, twice maybe per year, and every time I do I get this sense that there is a LOT of depth in it. So I wrote a novel about it (Personal Fable, available now at www.anderlouis.com, great Christmas present for that special someone in your life, please exit through the giftstore and have a lovely day).

Now you're thinking 'Wow, a novel about gift giving? Sounds like a real gem...' But I would say No, it isn't about gift giving at all. It just captures that complex and confusing feeling: teetering on the verge dangerous sentimentality, and as a defence mechanism; turning it off at the valve. (Without ever explaining it, of course - let the reader figure it out themselves). That is one of many deep themes of the novel. But what does that have to do with short stories?

When you write a novel, you commit to an longggg-arse experiment which may well fail. Personal Fable took me 5 years to write, and it was a completely new genre and style for me - totally experimental. It may well have sucked. Do you think I am going to spend 5 years trying something that may not work? Hell no! Actually, probably. But I am at least going to try style, the genre, the themes out first, and test that I can pull them off, and that they are as rad as I hoped. Here's the big secret... that is what ALL my short stories are... Testbeds. Practice spaces. Sandpits. Just me, trying something new, practicing for a novel I'm working on. I won two writing competitions this way with Mat hosting, with two stories I wrote as practice-pieces for Personal Fable (the stories are called 'Cut Strings' and 'Linda Spends a Little Time with Chris').

I forget my point, but that's fine. I don't often make points. I hope any of this rant helps. Write on, good luck. 

Ander Louis