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Winning Short Story Competitions by L.E. Daniels and C. Sawyer

Writing.ie | Book Reviews | Non Fiction
Winning Short Story Competitions

By Colman Rushe

When recommending a book on writing, I am conscious of the wide spectrum of writing ability and knowledge among writers. Some of us might benefit enormously from a book which will have little new to say to others. Having said all that, I think this book is a gem and I’ll try to tell you why.
As the title implies, this book is intended to improve your short fiction to a standard where it will maximise your chances of catching the eye of the judge when you submit to a short story competition. It will certainly improve your short fiction but it will do much more; most of the tips and guidelines here apply equally to longer fiction. My writer friend Helen Broderick mentioned that she found it of benefit when editing longer work – not just short stories. I agree.
What’s different about this book?
As you’d expect, it covers the usual advice about “show/don’t tell”, point of view, characterisation, structure, misuse of adverbs and adjectives and so on. But the book doesn’t just tell you what not to write. It uses examples and short story extracts to show you how to tell your story while avoiding the pitfalls which distract and annoy judges and readers.
The book doesn’t just tell, it shows. Rather than tell you to avoid passive verbs, the book uses “before and after” examples to demonstrate how the writer can make a sentence sparkle by replacing a passive verb with an active one.
If you’re sometimes muddled about “point of view” and “show/don’t tell” (we’ve all been there!), both are explained here in clear and practical detail.
Are you aware of filters and tautologies as you write? (Like me, you might only have a vague idea of what they are). The examples here demonstrate how identifying and eradicating them can bring a sentence to life.
We’ve all read ad nauseam about the importance of having a good title for your short story or book. (Show me/don’t tell me, I hear you yell). This book shows you how to find the title; it’s hidden in your work and there are tips here which will help you to identify it.
Winning Short Story CompetitionsFor me, the book hits home when it goes deeper and discusses subjects such as resonance, motif, foreshadowing, theme, use of colours etc.
You might not win a short story competition after studying this book – the authors make no such promise – I’m convinced that I could revisit anything I’ve written, short or long, and improve it significantly by applying the lessons and techniques contained in this book.

(c) Colman Rushe

Order your copy online here.

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