I’ve been focusing on the MA and Pain Management for the past few months so posts here have been scarce. However, there has been some success, a lot of work done (for me) and a lot in the pipeline. Without more ado….
What’s been Baked
An SF/Dystopian story has been longlisted for the James White Award, which was very nice, as I was wondering if I would be able to repeat the success I had with the Orwell Dystopian Fiction prize. Given it had this success, I’m pushing the story elsewhere to see what happens. The Hampshire Writer’s Society at the University of Winchester has a large membership and meets monthly. They also run a themed competition each month. As I was able to attend the last meeting I thought I’d enter this month’s competition, for a story based in an exotic location. With such a large membership (150-200) quality tends to be high, irrespective of the entries received (only 12 this time, I’m afraid) and I was still delighted to come out Highly Commended with the start of something I called ‘The Ochre Trail’. Further, delightfully, I won Faber’s weekly Quickfic flash fiction competition, adding to the success of previous BCU writers who have submitted and either won or become a runner-up. The story can be read on the Faber Academy’s news pages. The ending was particularly appreciated, something I try hard to achieve.
Why enter these small and flash fiction competitions?
It may seem strange for someone who has to manage their time so carefully to be entering these competitions. There are several reasons to do so, however. If I know the competition has a high quality element, or is very appropriate for the genres in which I wish to develop, or for which kudos can be high (frankly) then it is worth entering to see how my writing is progressing or is viewed. It’s a way of getting a solid assessment as well as being rewarding when something happens. There is also another, equally important, reason: exercises in writing to a specific brief. Every fiction genre has elements that must be included for a publisher to feel comfortable in accepting a submission. Books that do not have such elements are risky. Whilst, at the moment, the marketplace may be doing better than it has for a while in print form, the quality of titles in the eBook marketplace is frequently very poor. As a result, I feel the quality of my writing has to be as good as it can be as well as include the elements in each story that I write that help it stand out. The exercise of writing to a specific brief, independently assessed helps. Such writing is not just rote exercises but highly specific, with a target. Flash fic is pretty difficult and focuses the mind and editing skills. And, frankly, I need a target.
What’s In the oven?
Having started a thriller for my MA, let it stew for a while (it is vital that you leave writing alone before re-examining it as you can miss loads of cringing errors), and gone back to it, I found I was really enjoying editing it and planning what was to come. I started building a synopsis, dumped planning details into Scrivener and found that I was developing a sympathy for my (anti-hero and potentially dislikeable) main protagonist. This is something I will continue, to see if I can finish it and push out.
For my MA final project, I am rehashing a SF novel I first put down for an ICCW day at BCU. At the time I became quite interested in what I started so write another 20K words, but had to stop due to time pressures. I will be rewriting this for the final project, giving it a new opening(done), changing the viewpoint and extending it. The trouble is, reworking something is, I find, somewhat more difficult than writing from a blank sheet. As this examines various sorts of identity in a Post/ or Trans/Human existence, it is a project I enjoy.
Short stories also keep coming up. There is a fantasy/sword-and-sorcery short I am half-way through as well as a contemporary, humorous tale that I might put in for the Bridport Prize. We’ll see.
In the cupboard
I’ve put the Centurion novels in the cupboard for the time being, focusing on my MA. They are still very much on the cards, however.