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The Olga Sinclair Competition 2019 is closed!

That’s it. The deadline for the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2019 has passed. The 2019 competition is over.

Thank you to everyone who entered. We received an astonishing number of entries this year.

The results will be announced at our prize giving gala on Tuesday 15th October 2019.

For those who cannot make the gala, the results will be announced online at 10:30pm BST on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Be sure to follow us in order to stay updated!

If you didn’t get an entry in this year, fret not. We host this competition every year. We’ll be announcing next year’s theme very soon!

 

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Closed Until September…

With the AGM out of the way, we are closed for the summer. There will be no meetings until 17th September 2019. Our new programme will be posted very shortly.

We have lots of exciting things in store such as a self-publishing panel, a workshop on flash fiction, and will welcome authors like Ralph Jackman and Ian Nettleton. Keep watching our Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.

If you are interested in becoming member, please feel free to make enquiries. You can even pay membership fees early to get it out of the way. We welcome writers of all genre and experience level.

In the mean time, we’d like to thank everyone, both members and guests, for joining us this season. You are what makes this group so special.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch:

norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk

If you’re interested in winning up to £400, there’s still time to enter the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2019. The deadline is 31st July 2019. Results will be announced in October, exact date to be confirmed on the new programme.

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All’s well that ends well

Tuesday 2nd July was our AGM. It is the last meeting of the season. It was here that winners of our in-house competition were awarded their trophies for the year:

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Our Officers gave their reports.

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The reports were positive and our group is continuing to grow!

Finally, there was some sad news. After four years, Phyllida Scrivens stepped down as Chairman. Phyllida has contributed a great deal to the group, infusing each meeting with her energy and verve, and given everything she has to ensure members are welcome and happy. We at the NWC will always appreciate everything she has done as Chairman.

She’ll be a tough act to follow, but we can think of nobody better for the task than Iain Andrews! Iain has been an outstanding member for many years and we have the utmost confidence that he will rise to every challenge.

There was a brief ‘passing of the torch’ between the former chair the the new. And by ‘torch’ we of course mean the gavel:

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It’s been an amazing season. Thank you to all the members, guests, speakers, committee members and officers who make it all possible. This group wouldn’t be possible without you.

We look forward to starting a new season in September. The new programme will be posted soon. Keep an eye out for it. We hope to see everyone there, and would welcome any new members.

For details on membership, please go to our membership page which give you details of membership prices and benefits.

In the mean time, there is still time to enter to Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition.

Norwich Writers' Circle, Uncategorized

Final Manuscript Evening of the season

Tuesday 18th June was our final manuscript evening of the season. As such, we decided to go out with a bang.

As usual, we critiqued each other’s work. We had a wide variety from short stories, to horror novellas, to articles. The group’s constructive criticism skills have grown considerably over the season!

Finally we ended with some fun writing exercises. There was even time to read a few out.

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Special thanks to Kathy Joy of Fine Tune Your Fiction, a professional critique service, for leading the meeting.

We’d also like to extend a huge thank you to the members and guests in attendance that night. Without your hard work and willingness to improve, we wouldn’t be able to host these evenings.

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Upcoming Manuscript Evening

This Tuesday 18th of June will be our last manuscript evening of the season. With that in mind we wanted to perhaps try something new.

As the last manuscript evening wasn’t that long ago, we realise that people may not have anything to bring in so we are opening up this evening to either being an evening of writing exercises, or perhaps even a free writing session where you can bring work you are currently doing and write in the company of others.

What we do will depend on what people would prefer to do on the night. If the majority of attendees have work that needs to be critiqued, we’ll stick with the manuscript evening, but if more people would rather do some writing instead, we’ll do that!

In any case please remember to bring plenty of pens and paper as you will be needing them!

If you plan on bringing work to be critiqued, please bring six hard copies of no more than 1000 words, double spaced.

The meeting starts at 7:30 pm but we recommend you get there at about 7:15 pm to give you time to find a seat and get settled.

If you need parking, you can try Chapelfield or The Forum, or the theatre parking off Bethel Street, which charges only £2 after 5pm and is not far from Chantry House.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch:

norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk

Guests are more than welcome. The door fee will be £5 for guests, £3 for members and includes light refreshments and a raffle ticket.

We hope to see you there!

Member Successes, Uncategorized

Results of the Colin Sutton Cup for Humour 2019

On Tuesday 4th June Lynne Mortimer returned to the group to give her verdict on the Colin Sutton Cup for humour.

The results are as follows:

1st Place: Roses Are Red by Jon Platten

2nd Place: Father Brown by Iain Andrews

Joint Third Place: Unleash the Dogs of Brexit by Robin Parkinson

Joint Third Place: Toblerone anyone? by Cathy Rushworth

Highly Commended: Diversites by Barré Funnell

 

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Left to right: Barré Funnell (Highly Commended), Robin Parkinson (Joint Third), Jon Platten (First place), Lynne Mortimer (Adjudicator), Iain Andrews (Second Place), Kate Le Cornu (Joint Third)

There were twelve entries and Lynne commented that each one had the potential for publication.

The NWC would like to thank Lynne Mortimer for her tremendous efforts in judging the entries.

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Writing from life

On Tuesday 21st of May, we hosted a workshop on life writing given by Margaret K Johnson.

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Margaret walked us through how go begin writing from life. First, she showed examples such as Toast by Nigel Slater.  We also looked at Shop Girl by Mary Portas.

Attendees were then tasked with coming up with 10 chapter titles similar to Mary Portas’ book, picking out what first came to mind in our past. Once we had done this, we each read them out.

Finally, we were tasked to make a start on one of those chapters. What significance did the item have? Did it have a story to it, or even several?

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The group had a great time, and we were even able to read some of our work. It was interesting to hear what items had certain associations to different people.

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The NWC would like to thank Margaret for her engaging workshop. It’s certainly made both members and guests think different about memoir writing.

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Olga Sinclair Launch Gala 2019

On Tuesday 16th of April we officially launched the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2019.

Guests were treated to gin tasting courtesy of Patrick and Sandra of Black Shuck Gin.

Then we kicked off the evening with Piers Warren, the main adjudicator for the competition, offering insights on what he’s looking for in a winning entry.

Advice from Piers Warren

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Piers is the adjudicator for the main competition. He is the author of Black Shuck: The Devils Dog, but also a conservationist.

When it comes to his adjudication, he warns that all reading is objective. The stories he likes might not be what another judge would like. However, he offered some guidance by sharing the sorts of things he likes:

“Ideas for stories often start by wondering ‘what if…’ I like to be surprised and end up thinking ‘what on earth made them come up with that’.”

He then gave some general guidance on what exactly he is looking for:

  • I like to care about one or more characters in a plot. If everyone is unlikable, bland or has no depth of character, it’s easy to lose the will to read on.
  • I like to read on to know what’s going to happen next, without being tripped up by unnecessarily strange words or phrases, or ones out of context.
  • Make dialogue realistic. People tend not to talk in complete sentences or be very descriptive. Grunts, noises, single words are all fine if appropriate! Stephen King is very good at dialogue and I love his book of advice On Writing.
  • If it’s obvious who has said something you don’t need to pepper dialogue with he said, she said etc. But also, don’t get bogged down trying to find alternatives– ‘she exclaimed’ (and many other similar possibilities) grates after a while!
  • Don’t overdo adverbs. I prefer ‘slamming’ a door than ‘shutting it firmly’.
  • If written in the first person – is your protagonist male or female? Making it clear fairly early on can avoid an incorrect assumption which then throws the reader later on.
  • Set your scenes using details rather than descriptions. For example, rather than describing how the bar looks, give some detail of what the bartender is wearing. Tom Waits is particularly good at this when writing lyrics.

Piers went on to offer some solid advice when it comes to editing:

  • Plan, write the first draft, tweak, leave for a while, edit, get feedback from your first reader, tweak further then abandon! Editing is never truly finished.
  • Drown your babies/kill your darlings (favourite phrases or sections which do not help drive the story). Leaving a gap between drafts (a few weeks ideally) makes it easier to kill darlings/babies which by then feel more like someone else’s!
  • Editing is often better when removing words rather than adding.

 

Advice from Holly Ainley

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Holly Ainley will be the adjudicator for the Members Shield challenge. This challenge is for members only. Members who have submitted to the main competition can choose one of the stories submitted to the main competition so it can be judged by Holly, giving them another chance to win.

Holly is the book buyer for Jarrolds, and so is used to being arms deep, selecting stories.

Holly first commented on the popularity of the ghosts in Norfolk folklore.

Many excellent non-fiction titles have been written on the subject, including Peter Tolhurst’s This Hollow Land. Plus ghost walks are a surprisingly popular form of entertainment in Norwich.

It’s not just non-fiction but fiction too, for example Shadows on the Fens, edited by Wayne Drew, the short stories of MR James (many set in Norfolk and Suffolk), Black Shuck by Piers Warren, Michelle Paver’s Wakenhyrst (Suffolk)

Why is it such a perfect setting? There is a wealth of legends and actual ghosts associated with the area, from that of Robert Kett hanging over Cathedral Close (now memorialised in CJ Sansom’s novel Tombland), to Black Shuck roaming the North Norfolk coast.

Holly suggests it may be because we have an abundance of churches, functioning and ruined, in the county. What comes with Churches? Graveyards. And with graveyards? Ghosts. We are surrounded by perfect spooky locations. She suggests reading Medieval Churches of the City of Norwich by Nicholas Groves and Landscape of Towers by Clive Dunn for inspiration.

Norfolk and Suffolk are also counties of beautiful old stately homes and mansions, with their own legends attached – take the headless spectre of Ann Boleyn riding through Blickling Hall. Big gothic mansions are full of ghosts and when located in remote areas, there is no-one to hear you scream.

Beyond buildings, there is the extraordinary coastline and rich geological history: it is a perfect setting for archaeological mysteries, for example the salty marshes in the North are the inspiration for Elly Griffiths’ crime fiction – a place that theoretically preserves bodies and bones would serve well for a ghost story.

Although stories do not have to be based in Norwich, or even in Norfolk, but you can find an abundance of inspiration here.

In terms of what she is looking for in a winning entry, Holly highlights the following:

  • I love setting and place and how this influences characters’ behaviour.
  • Short stories are a unique medium, perfectly suited to explore a moment, an episode, plunging the reader into a particular atmosphere.
  • I’m looking for stories that captivate me from the first line, opening a brief window onto a person or a place and their story.
  • Don’t be tempted to overwork your stories – resist the temptation to over-edit and trust when it feels like time to let go.

Advice on how to interpret the theme

Every year, we get entrants asking for guidance on how to interpret the theme – are we looking for it to be interpreted a specific way? The short answer is: no. You can interpret it any way you like.

This, of course, is not always helpful. Some people may be intimidated by the idea of writing to a theme and have no idea where to begin. Our suggestion is to start with the dictionary.

The Oxford dictionary online defines ‘spooks’ as follows:

  • A ghost or a spectre
  • A derogatory term for an African American in America in the 1940’s-50’s
  • A ghost writer

Already you can see the vastly different directions you could take this theme – from a ghost story or a story featuring some kind of supernatural entity, to a spy thriller or mystery, to a story that explores racism, or one that looks at the writing process. You could even write a story that combines several of these definitions.

So even if you’re not a fan of the supernatural, or much of a horror writer, you should still be able to find an angle to approach this theme that suits your style.

Digging deeper, ‘spooks’ can also mean to be haunted, or to be scared (is in, to be ‘spooked’). So you could write a story that explores fear, or being haunted, but again remember that the supernatural is not the only thing that can haunt a person, and people fear more than ghosts and ghouls.

For example, a story about a bride or groom getting cold feet on their wedding day could tie in just as well with the theme as a story about a person being terrorised by a ghost.

There’s no limit to genre either. It has to be fiction, of course, but you can explore the theme of ‘spooks’ through the lens of horror, sci-fi, romance, comedy, historical fiction, steam punk – anything goes.

In the past, entrants have interpreted our themes a number of ways with a wide range of genres. We highly recommend checking out our anthologies to see examples of how winning entries have interpreted past themes to give you an idea of how you might approach this year’s theme.

Finally, we’d like to make it clear that your stories do not have to be set in Norwich, or even Norfolk. You can set them anywhere you like, in any time period. It’s up to you. Nor do you have to write about spooky things in Norfolk. You’re welcome to if you like, but you’re not restricted.

Ultimately, your only limit when it comes to interpreting the theme is your own imagination. We’re excited to see all the different ways entrants will explore this theme.

If you’re still stuck for ideas, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we’ve been posting at least two writing prompts every week ranging from image prompts, specific scenarios and even real life inspiration. Each of them has been specifically chosen because it can easily lead to a story that explores our theme. We will continue putting them up until a week before the deadline.

Even if you already have an idea or have already written your entry, it’s still worth checking them out because there’s no limit to how many entries you can submit.

We’ll be revealing the cover for this year’s anthology on our social media very soon, so if you want to see the cover of the book your entry may well be published in, it’s worth following us to be updated.

The entry fee is £8 per entry. There is no limit on the number of entries. International entries are welcome. The competition is open to all writers of all ages and skill levels. The deadline is midnight GMT July 31st 2019. There are cash prizes available for the top three winners.

Full details of our competition can be found here: https://norwichwriters.wordpress.com/olga-sinclair-open-short-story-2019/

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk

Here are more pictures of our wonderful evening:

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Join us at the gala

This Tuesday 16th April is the official launch gala for the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2019. Both our adjudicators Piers Warren and Holly Ainley will be there to talk about what they’re looking for in a winning entry. But that’s not all.

There will be free gin tasting courtesy of Black Shuck Gin, one of our supporters.

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The door fee will be £5 for non-members and £3 for members. This helps us pay for the room hire, but it gets you:

  • Free gin tasting.
  • Light buffet of finger food with both vegan and non-vegan options.
  • Drinks such as wine, as well as soft drinks, and tea and coffee.
  • The chance to chat to us and the adjudicators.

If you want to keep up to date with the latest news on the gala, go to the official event page. Also, remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for news, tips, and advice on the competition, as well as regular writing prompts to help get those creative juices flowing.

If you have have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk