Author Sue Perkins updates this blog herself. Please leave comments to say what you like about the site, or any suggestions for improvement.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Friday Focus

I'm sorry this week's Friday Focus is late but it's mainly due to the festive season. As many writers are taking this opportunity to work on short story entries I thought I'd give a few tips for making sure you get things right before you send the story off.

This article is not going to tell you what to write – that's up to you. I hope to point out some of the pitfalls for you to avoid. First and foremost, make sure the type of story you wish to write is acceptable for the competition. For instance if the request is for romance stories, you are not going to get anywhere if you enter a murder mystery story.

So you've written your story, what next? Don't stop at the first draft. A short story is in many ways harder than writing a novel. This is mainly due to putting life into the number of words for the story. It's best to write the story, read it through to change any errors that jump out at you, then put it away for several days. When you take another look after a break you will be surprised how different the story looks and no doubt will decide to alter certain aspects.

Make sure your story flows and the continuity is correct. This means if your hero starts with green eyes, he should have green eyes throughout the story. If he's a grumpy person, then there must be a real reason for him to suddenly turn into a happy person.

The most important thing when entering a competition is to adhere to the rules. Read the rules carefully before writing your story, then read them again as the last thing you do before sending in your entry. If it restricts the words to 2000 then 2010 could automatically have you disqualified (and in many cases you could lose your entry fee). Exact spacing, specific font and many other rules are not there for your interpretation. They are there to make sure your entry and all others are equal so the quality of your story is what makes it a winner, not the presentation.

When the organisers request a SSAE (Stamped Self Addressed Envelope) of a specific size, make sure you send that size, not one that you think will do. Entering as a digital file means it is especially important to use the software as per the rules (this is usually MS Word). Sending your entry off in your favourite software might mean the judges are unable to open your document. One other thing, don't forget to send in your entry fee – or transfer the funds to the competition's account. You'd be surprised how many contestants overlook this important part of entering.

So to finish off the most important thing is to – READ AND FOLLOW THE RULES.  Good Luck!

No comments: