Saturday, 28 August 2010

5 Step Plotting Formula

Do you want to write a short story, but don't know to structure a plot? Here it is, my 5 step plotting formula. Try it out. Copy it, adapt it if you like, but be sure to make notes on every prompt. Once you've got a plot outline, you're ready to write your story.

5 step plotting formula



Brief details:
His/her goal:(what does he/she want or need?)


Who or what is it?
How does the opposition aim to prevent your character reacvhing his/her goal?


First obstacle:
How it’s overcome:

Further obstacles:
How they are overcome:


The dramatic high spot where it seems all is lost:

How  the goal is  achieved:

Monday, 23 August 2010

Children's Writer Historical Story Competition

If you like writing for children and contests, read on . . .

I received the following information by e-mail from Children's Writer today. It sounds like a great opportunity for children's writers. The rewards are publication in Children’s Writer, cash prizes, winners’ certificates, and valuable training in disciplined writing.

Writing to an editor’s specifications is the first hurdle that any writer must clear on the track to publication. Yet, editors repeatedly  say that the majority of manuscripts they receive do not match their guidelines and specifications. That’s a huge waste of time and energy for both writers and editors.

Writing contests also have exact specifications, and that’s why we encourage all writers to enter contests as often as they can. Contests are excellent professional training experiences. A winning entry can get you published, and often some healthy prize money, too.

The winning historical fiction piece in this contest will be published in Children’s Writer, the monthly newsletter that goes to almost 1,300 children’s book and magazine editors in North America.

Along with the winning story, we’ll publish an article about it and the other top-ranked stories and their authors.

In addition, we will publish the winning entries on the Children’s Writer website.

There are also five cash prizes: $500 for the top winner, $250 for second place, and $100 for third, fourth, and fifth places. These alone are a lot of good reasons to write and enter.

The contest is for historical fiction for young teens, age 13, to 1,500 words. Balance originality with accuracy and utilize a strong bibliography of research sources. Create a voice and a story that is historical but relevant to contemporary readers. Publishability is the ultimate criterion.

Current subscribers to Children’s Writer enter free. All others, including our students who are not subscribers to Children’s Writer, pay a $15 reading fee—standard for writing contests. But, if you are not a subscriber, your $15 fee will also bring you an eight-month trial subscription to Children’s Writer. You may enter multiple manuscripts, but please use an entry form for each one.

The contest’s rules are important. You’ll find them on the contest entry page. Please read them very carefully.

Note the October 30th deadline! Be sure to get your entry in on time.

Now warm up your computer, laptop, or notebook and write a $500-winning story of historical fiction! Good luck!

Please click here to enter:


Susan Tierney, Editor

P. S. As someone who has judged writing competitions for many years, I can tell you that nothing hurts an entry more than exceeding the word limit. Don’t fall out of the running because of this easy-to-meet spec. Please remember to count your words!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

List of Short Story Competitions

For an extremely comprehensive list of UK based short story competitions check out Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau. Click on the link: for an extremely well researched list with lots of important information including submission dates. The author does suggest checking individual links in case such information has changed. Once you are on the competitions page you will see a blue link MARKETS. This takes you to another page which gives advice and a list of markets for short stories. This could save you hours of searching and who knows, could lead to a competition win!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Short Stories Wanted at Bridge House Publishing

I've sent a story to Bridge House Publishing this week for their upcoming Charity Anthology.  The 2011 chosen charity is Children's Hospices UK and Bridge House are looking for stories suitable for children of junior school age (7-10 years). Stories should be 1000-3000 words and the theme must be uplifting.
If your submission is succesful you may find your work published alongside one or more well known children's writers who have been invited to contribute. £1 from the sale of every copy will be donated to the charity and  authors will be asked to donate their royalities.

Bridge House published two charity books last year 100 Stories for Haiti and Gentle Footprints, which supports the Born Free foundation and includes a story by Richard Adams. It is endorsed by Virginia McKenna and contains a foreword by her. Gentle Footprints, described as "an extraordinary book" was launched at the Hay festival. at a launch attended by over 1,000.  It was featured on the Book Show and on Loose Women. For guidelines on submitting to this and/or other Bridge House click on the link: 
Other upcoming anthologies include Angels, Science Fiction and Crime themes so there's something for everyone. Oh, and while surfing the site I found there's a competition too as well as some fabulous anthologies of stories to buy and read.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Ten Tips on Writing Stories Children and Editors will Love.

Do you want to write winning short stories for children? Here's a few top tips!

1. Don’t patronize. Children are sophisticated, intelligent and like to be challenged. Don’t over simply or over explain. Don’t write for children because you think it’s the easy option. It’s not.

2. Don’t preach. It’s okay for your story to have a message or moral, but don’t bang on about it. If your story is well written the message will be apparent as your character will have learnt something and your reader will learn too as a result.

3. Do create interesting, realistic characters your reader can relate to and want to know better.

4. Don’t sit around waiting for inspiration. Find it by reading children’s books and stories, listening to them talk, watching their TV programmes and so on. Emerge yourself into their world as much as you can.

5. Do make sure your story and its language are age appropriate. Research what children of that age may be interested in before you write. Research what editors are looking for too. and write what they want

6. Do include dialogue that is realistic, true to the characters’ personalities and which helps move the story on.

7. Don’t jump into the story and tell it yourself– let your characters do that for you.

8. Don’t be miserable, morbid or melodramatic, even if your story has a serious message or sad content.

9. Do enjoy what you write. If you’re having fun your reader will too.

10. Don’t be afraid to try a new slant on an old story. Many successful modern stories are based on or inspired by fables and fairy stories writers enjoyed themselves.

Use the above tips as guidelines and add to it as you become experienced in writing stories for children.

Learn from your masters (the writers you admire), learn from your writing - from your mistakes and your successes. And one final tip to keep in mind – don’t expect your story to be perfect, just make it as good as you can.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Tell me a Story: make storytelling fun and fabulous

Do you envy those people who are natural storytellers? Perhaps you want to make reading stories more fun, but lack the confidence or know-how? Below are 10 simple things you can do to help make reading stories more fun.
1. Read the book several times to yourself before you read it with the child so that the content, the layout and the pictures are all familiar to you.

2. Talk about the front cover with the child before you open the book. Ask the child what he thinks the story is about.

3. Use a variety of different voices for different characters. Not every parent is able to speak in a variety of accents. There are some very lucky children whose parents can. But you don't have to be a trained actor, or even an amateur to be able to make your voice interesting. You can whisper, you can shout, you can sound angry, or sad, silly, or intelligent. You can make your voice squeaky, deep or scary. At first you might feel silly, but I'm sure with practice you will learn to enjoy it. I know I do.

4. Adapt your voice to help create different atmospheres. Is the book scary or funny, serious or lighthearted, sad or happy? Using an appropriate tone of voice is far better than speaking in a boring monotone.

5. Encourage your child to join in. Remember how much you as a child enjoyed those repeated phrases: such as I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down. Create a special signal to your child to let him know when it's time to join in: raise your hands, tilt your head, half close the book. The more dramatic, the better. Children also enjoy putting in missing words. This is particularly useful and educational if the story has a pattern of rhyme to it. For example: I'll... and I'll..., blow your house down.

6. Add sound effects or encourage your child to do so. Animal sounds, bird song, bells ringing, people snoring etc all add to the fun. Many authors add these to the text, but if they don't there's no reason you couldn't improvise.

7. Add actions too, silly walks, waving, driving a car. All these add greatly to the fun factor.

8. Pull funny faces to show feelings such as fear, joy, surprise etc. The more exaggerated these are the better.

9. Talk about the pictures on the pages and relate the text to the pictures. You might even encourage your child to guess the next word or words, using the picture to guide him.

10. Learn from the experts. Many well-known children's authors read their books at festivals or book shops. Storytellers also offer sessions in local libraries as well as at organized storytelling events. Look out for family literacy training at your child's school or ask to work as a volunteer there when literacy sessions are taking place. Last, but not least, listen to recorded books for inspiration.

Follow the ten tips, and make reading a pleasure, not a chore. You'll be glad you did, and so will your child.

Article Source:

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Natterjack want writers!

Natterjack is a fabulous online magazine of new writing in prose and verse. Read and/or submit articles and reviews, poetry and fiction. You can also become a member of the site and contribute to their discussion forum, Natterbox. I've pasted Natterjack'sVision and Philosophy from the site below:

Natterjack is a free independent online polyphonic magazine, which aims to produce unexpected juxtapositions of different kinds of writers and readers and bring them together in an online community of words. I say words because words are where we’re starting. In time we hope to expand into music, visuals, and multimedia presentations. Just give it time.
Essentially there are two sides to it:
The poetry and fiction section will combine poems and stories by established writers with those by obscure writers, new writers, experimental writers, children, and some of the famous names from the past. Sometimes the words are on the screen, sometimes they're in the speakers. There’ll be commentaries exploring links between these pieces, plus a forum (Natterbox) where you can add your own comments and questions. For more detail see the poetry policy page (under the poetry and fiction tab).

The articles and reviews section will feature a wide mix of material. So far we have articles promised on global warming denial; studies of blues guitarists; the fall of the Roman Empire; head lice; God; how to lose money on the horses; schizophrenia; how gypsies get their MOTs; etc. We will also have articles on running a home business, and on education.
Our emphasis is on entertainment, not on hard information, though we have some of that as well. Our content aims to be “quite interesting” (as Stephen Fry would say), even if it’s not always quite factually reliable. Some of our content is straight talking, other parts are spoofs and satires, and we credit our readers with being able to sort out the difference. We believe that laughter, ridicule, parody, the deconstructive, the carnivalesque, are valid vehicles for approaching truths, understandings and insights. Natterjack is not an academic site – though some features may be of interest to students and teachers.
We believe that a very wide range of voices can be worth hearing – though some of them may need a bit of careful editing first – and that some of the resonances of these voices can be brought out by unexpected juxtapositions. So, we aim to combine experienced writers with new writers, the very old with the very young, the mainstream with the marginal, the polished with the raw, and all stages in between. Sometimes we’ll provide commentaries exploring links between pieces we’ve put next to each other. Other times, we’ll leave readers to make their own connections.
While we welcome submissions from experienced writers, part of our purpose is also to encourage new writers who may have less confidence. We can offer various levels of support, ranging from light-touch proofreading to advice on content, style and structure, or editorial help with spelling / punctuation / grammar / layout etc if you want it. We can also offer more fundamental re-writing and ghosting services where appropriate. So if you have something to say but you’re not sure how to say it, we still want to hear from you. See the How to submit work page for more details.
The website itself is FREE to visit, and to read, look at, and listen to. You can download texts and quote from them freely, but we do ask you to acknowledge the author and the source. If you quote us online, please include a link to Natterjack.

Beyond the website, we are developing a series of larger-scale products, as ebooks, CDs and DVDs. There will be information about all these on the site as they progress, and they'll be available in the Natterjack shop.

But the shop's not open yet. Enjoy what's on the site.

Check out the site at Whether you're a reader or a writer, you'll find something for you. I adored the seascape picture links too!