Working on a novel? Writing fiction stories? Studying or teaching Creative Writing? Online Writing Tips offers free advice videos for novelists, authors, and students of Creative Writing. We also offer a free writing critique service and run the Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize. Our tutors are all experienced writers and university Creative Writing lecturers, so please enter your email address at the top of the sidebar to receive regular writing resources – and nothing else. Thanks for visiting! Google+

OWT short fiction competition – update Reply

The 2017 OWT short fiction competition is now closed for entries. We have received exactly 300 entries – exactly! (The round number seems to us in some way significant.) That’s more than double the number of entries we received last year. We are thrilled – and a little overwhelmed – by the volume and range of submissions we’ve received.

The judging now begins. Alas, we have only three prizes to award, so we apologise that there is no way we can give all entries the recognition that they deserve. Please know how grateful we are to everyone who shared their work, and please remember that with so many strong pieces our choices will inevitably be subjective.

Given the volume of entries, we plan to make our selections in two stages. In the first instance our aim is to narrow the field to a longlist, which we plan to announce on Wednesday 29th March. We will announce authors by their name (or pen name), but, so as not to hinder non-winning entrants’ chances of publishing their stories elsewhere, we will not publish story titles at this stage. Please be patient as we try to choose between so many excellent pieces of writing. Thank you and good luck!

 

 

The 2017 OWT Short Fiction Prize – deadline March 15th! Reply

Beware the Ides of March! Today is World Book Day, which means you have just under a fortnight to get your entries in for this year’s Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize. Remember:

– It’s free to enter
– There are three cash prizes
– We accept stories of 1000-4000 words on any theme

You can find the full submission details here. Good luck – you’ve got to be in it to win it!

story-prize-poster 2017

James Purdy’s “Cutting Edge” and Hemingway’s iceberg (tip 74) 2

D.D. Johnston discusses James Purdy’s short story “Cutting Edge” as an example of how a seemingly insignificant conflict can make for high drama when it stands for something bigger. In “Cutting Edge” the question of a young man’s beard becomes the symbolic terrain on which an inter-generational battle is fought. The story is about moral values and the future of America, but all of this is left unsaid, lurking below the water – after all, when people argue they rarely refer explicitly to what they’re really arguing about. In this sense, Purdy’s short story can be said to demonstrate Ernest Hemingway’s “Iceberg principle.” You can read the full story here.

read video transcript

Fundamental human journeys (tip 73) Reply

Michael Scott has written novels, films, and plays in a variety of genres for adults and children and teens. He’s learned that it doesn’t much matter what sort of story you’re writing, or for whom your writing it: “A good story is always a journey. It is about the people the hero meets along the way and how they change him or her.” Now that we’re thinking about the themes of stories, it becomes apparent that a character’s journey is inextricably bound with a story’s theme. And since the theme has to be something general and powerful, something universal and impactful, it’s not surprising that there aren’t that many journeys that really matter.

Have a look at this list of fundamental human journeys, and let me know in the comments whether there are any that I’ve missed:

Fundamental human journeys

Material

(simple transitions based on external changes – these are more likely to work in, say, a young adult genre novel than in a literary short story, but often in genre fiction a material transition will be made possible by a psychological transition)

Peril <-> Safety

Single <-> Married

Powerless <-> Powerful

Poor <-> Rich

Obscure <-> Famous

Picked on <-> Popular

Psychological

Not seizing the day <->  Seizing the day

Isolation <-> Human connection

Love <-> Loss

Despair <-> Hope

Obliviousness <-> Awareness of mortality

Innocence <-> Loss of innocence

Inhibition <-> Boldness

Desire <-> Contentment

Self-doubt <-> Self-acceptance

No sense of sublime <-> Sense of the sublime

Search for meaning <-> Accepting meaninglessness

Fear <-> Acceptance of death

Faith <-> Lack of faith

read video transcript