Friday, 28 November 2008

Writing Up A Storm!

I've been totally focused on my writing this week. I'm determined to build up a catalogue of work to submit. I'm aiming at the women's magazines again, mainly Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly and want to submit at least two stories per week to that market.

However, this week I've been focusing on competition stories, as there are several competitions closing on the 30th November. I invested in Carole Baldock's bi-monthly mag, Kudos, which helpfully lists a whole host of writing competitions. I've entered three competitions this week so far and hope to enter a fourth today, but I'm not sure whether I'll get my story polished enough in time. I've written a completely new story, which I'm really pleased with (one of those which seemed to write itself) and reworked four others so far. I've really pulled some older stories to pieces and rewritten large chunks. I'm still not convinced they work, however. We'll see.

My main gripe about short story competitions is the word length. Now, as a competition organiser myself, I realise that it's a huge task reading through 100+ entries and if the word length is over 2,000 words, then the task is even more difficult. However, as a writer I don't like the 2,000 word limit. My stories are usually well over 2,000 words, and won't be shoe-horned into fewer words. I was particularly disappointed to discover the Mslexia competition is only open to stories of less than 2,200 words. The story I had in mind for that is 2,500 words. I hate cutting when I feel the story works well at its current wordage. Does anyone else have this problem? If you look at competition listings, most state that stories must be under 2,000 words.

I guess the answer is to practise writing shorter stories! I'm off to do just that!


Jan Jones said...

Actually, I find I write to a natural 2000 word limit. They can usually be expanded to 2,500 but, sadly, they seem to be that bit better when I cut them to 1850 or so.

Sally Zigmond said...

I always have trouble writing anything under 2,000 words. But to get over the 'having to shorten stories for publication/competition' problem, I end up with several versions of essentially the same story with different lengths and different titles on file!

Gutsy Living said...

I'm new to your blog and glad to see that you'll have more time to write now that you are no longer home schooling your children. The way I can concentrate on my writing is to dress as if I'm off to work, and I drive to a fancy library in Newport Beach, California, with my wonderful cup of Peet's coffee and my laptop. I stay there for about 4 hours, then come home to my children and start blogging. Good luck with the contests.

Jean said...

Almost everything I write ends up longer than the word-limit I'm aiming for. Cutting can take ages. Della Galton says in her book (How to Write and Sell Short Stories) "If they state a maximum of 1000 words, then they don't want a story of 1002 words." When I first read this I thought, Oh, surely we wouldn't be disqualified for overshooting by just two words. But then, I guess there has to be a cut-off point. Writing to a shorter word-limit is something I'll have to practise more.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed how most comps are now 2 - 2,500 whereas they used to be longer. Suits me as I don't seem to do 'long' short stories, but agree each has its right length, and squeezing into a word count won't really work unless it's already close. Small mags you expect to go for shorter lengths, but yes, I'm surprised Mslexia isn't looking for something a bit longer (and meatier?) maybe a la Bridport.
BTW enjoyed first issue of TYR very much. How are you doing the voting for 'best' story. Will a quick email do? Cheers, AliB

Jo said...

AliB. Yes, I'm surprised that Mslexia aren't doing a bigger comp a la Bridport. As for voting for your favourite stories in TYR, please give every story a mark out of ten and you can email it to me (