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Prepare Yourself.

Our first manuscript evening of the season is on the 6th November. It will be led by Kathy Joy of Fine Tune Your Fiction, a professional critique service.

This time, we’re going to try something different.

As usual, you can bring along six double spaced printed excerpts of no more than 1000-1500 words of a current or past project, be it poetry, prose, screen play, non-fiction, or a blog/journal article.

However, if you don’t have anything ready to be critiqued, we have some other options.  Do you have a blurb you’d like to get some feedback on? Or a book cover? Or both? Bring 6-8 copies, double spaced, to the meeting and work in small groups and get constructive feedback.

Are you stuck somewhere in your current project and need to bat ideas around? Do you have questions like:

“My character needs to find a piece of evidence but I can’t think of a believable way to do it.”

“I can’t decide between these titles. Which do you think works best?”

“If my protagonist does this, would they still be likeable?”

“Should I write this in third or first person?”

“I need to find a title for my work/can’t decide between these titles.”

You can ask your fellow writers in the group and bat ideas around and see if they can’t help you fill in some gaps or overcome hurdles you are experiencing. Bring excerpts of your work to give context, six copies, double space, but not more than 1500 words.

We hope to see you there!

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Winners of the 2018 Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition

We are pleased to announce the results of the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2018!

Main Competition:

 

1st Place: Guernica by Sue Ryder Richardson

Adjudicator’s Comment:I love the way that you chose to tell Ana’s story through her grandchildren’s eyes and this multigenerational approach brings the past very much into the present. This could have become expositional and rather dull but, instead, you make it vivid and relevant to the reader. The writing is excellent. In this particular competition there really was nothing to choose between first and second place but, your final sentence, which was both vivid and haunting, stayed with me and secured the win.

Overall, an engaging and powerful story demonstrating excellent writing.

2nd Place: Scarlett Johannson Is The Anti-Christ! by Louise Wilford

Adjudicator’s Comment: I loved this story. It makes excellent use of the market theme and the descriptions of produce are vivid and build both the tension and interest in the character. There’s a real sense of undercurrent and the story has an effective and punchy resolution. You use dialogue well and Lucy was well developed and believable.

Overall, excellent writing, a polished and a very memorable read.

3rd Place: Circle Of Life by Rhona Godfrey

Adjudicator’s Comment: I was drawn to this story for its strong market theme, its warmth and the dynamic that forms between the two characters. The last sentence really added to its impact too. The formatting was distracting and, although it wasn’t marked down for this, other competitions might penalise which would be a shame. You have double spaced but don’t put an extra line between paragraphs and you should indent the first line of every paragraph apart from the first in each section. The most important change you need to make to your formatting is to make sure that there is a new paragraph each time someone speaks. But, otherwise, it was a very enjoyable story.

Overall, a warm and engaging story with strong reader appeal.

 

Runners Up:

 

El Rastro by April McIntyre

Adjudicator’s Comment: Lovely sense of place. The atmosphere is built gently and the story is well paced, it is quite mellow and more about characters and the moment than about plot and, because of this, it felt as though it would have been a chapter or section of a longer piece – that isn’t a criticism at all, and I would have been interested to read more. You use local words and you have achieved the balance of using enough to add flavour but not too many so that it becomes a distraction. Pay attention to proof reading, e.g. ceramists should be ceramist’s and ‘A pale, marginally overweight woman in her twenties only months before…’ only months before relates to her being in her twenties rather than being overweight.

Overall, written with a strong voice and to a high standard.

Fading Times by Kathy Joy

Adjudicator’s Comment: Fading Times takes some of the familiar elements of the market and weaves them into a story which is both charming and imaginative. I enjoyed the way the tension rose and was completely invested in Iris. The story provokes thought about the challenges that markets face in current times and this is neatly reflected in Iris’s situation. Try to avoid clichés e.g. ‘knife to the throat’, ‘biting the bullet’ and ‘bigger and better’ because finding new ways of saying these things will extend your writing.

Overall, a strongly themed and original story.

The Pale Child by Iain Andrews

 Adjudicator’s Comment: You set the scene well through the use of dialogue and traditional trades which allowed the reader to place the story, timewise at least, with gothic / Victorian undertones. You have made good use of the market theme and the eeriness that is present around a deserted market at night time. The story has the feel of traditional folklore or campfire storytelling and this is a perfect choice. A small point with the formatting; please indent the first line of every paragraph apart from the first line in each section. This makes it much easier to read, especially as typescripts are usually presented in this way.

Overall, strong imagery and an enjoyable read.

The Coat by Bonnabelle Leftwich

 Adjudicator’s Comment: This story shows the relationship between mother and daughter and its effectiveness lies in experiencing the insight that the daughter, Lucy, is suddenly given. The mother’s memories build to make her a relatable character. The opening paragraph didn’t engage me, it felt as though you had tried too hard to make it stand out, but once the story moves on you settle into a more natural and fluent style. A small point with the formatting; please indent the first line of every paragraph apart from the first line in each section. This makes it much easier to read, especially as typescripts are usually presented in this way.

Overall, a warm story with a well thought out plot.

The Night Market by Peter Loftus

Adjudicator’s Comment: You set the scene well and the narrator has an engaging voice but the strength of this story is its plot; it kept me reading and you built a sense of anticipation. The final twist was unexpected and clever. The downsides were minor. I would have liked a little more foreshadowing. You also could have picked a more interesting title; quite a few entries were variations on The Market and ones with more intriguing titles were immediately more appealing. A small point with the formatting; please indent the first line of every paragraph apart from the first in each section. This makes it much easier to read, especially as typescripts are usually presented in this way.

Overall, a dark story which stayed with me long after I’d finished reading.

Traders by Mary Outram

Adjudicator’s Comment: This story immediately reminded me of a classic espionage thriller and you effectively built an atmosphere of mistrust and intrigue. Your writing shows a clear affinity with your genre. I think you could expand some of the scenes and descriptions and develop this into a longer piece.

Overall, a fast paced read from a writer with a good eye for detail.

The Trans Sahara Highway by Claire Wood

Adjudicator’s Comment: The way you link the two locations takes the reader smoothly from a British market, which is probably more familiar to most, to an African one. The comparisons are elegantly drawn and the story achieves poignancy and positivity. When I reached the end I wanted to read on. The major criticism is the story’s low word count and, for this reason alone, it almost missed being shortlisted. In general, for a short- story competition of up to 2000 words it is wise to be as close as you can to that limit without going over; 1800-2000 is ideal, however I shortlisted this for the strength of the writing and the beautiful sense of place. A small point with the formatting; please indent the first line of every paragraph apart from the first in each section. This makes it much easier to read, especially as typescripts are usually presented in this way.

Overall, sharply drawn with a strong sense of place.

MEMBERS COMP:

 

1st Place: The Market by Phillip Vine

Adjudicator’s Comment: This enigmatic story hooked me straightaway. I loved the dark humour and the Kafkaesque atmosphere. Very well paced, and lovely rhythmic touches in the sentence structure. Of all the entries, this had the strongest sense of voice. The open ending won’t be to everyone’s taste, and the last lines could have more impact. But the quirky concept and the confidence of your prose won me over. Congratulations!

2nd Place: Swipe Left by Kathy Joy

Adjudicator’s Comment: There’s a grizzly twist to this dark but gripping tale. Of all the entries this made cleverest use of the theme. The plot kept me guessing. Perhaps it’s a bit far-fetched (could she really spot predators so easily?). Also the flashbacks were sometimes confusing (try using pluperfect tense when you first go back in time). But the story stuck with me long after reading it, and the last line is wonderfully macabre! Well done.

3rd Place: Mr Dickens And The Bakewell Pudding by Phyllida Scrivens

Adjudicator’s Comment: What a quirky idea! Gorgeous food descriptions made me feel very hungry while reading this. Little details leapt off the page and really came to life. I loved the characters and believed in your world. But structurally it needs development. I’d definitely lose the footnote. Root us more firmly in Ann’s POV: she’s the heart of the story. But overall a joy to read, and it stuck in my memory too. Well done!

Commended:

 

The Pale Child by Iain Andrews

Adjudicator’s Comment: There’s some really fine writing here. We open with a hook, and the voice feels convincing. I love the premise and period atmosphere. But structurally it’s not quite ‘there’ yet, and overall I didn’t feel it was tense (or scary) enough. Rather a lot of dialogue and too little action – let us see the pale child for ourselves before we hear his story. But this dark little tale showed lots of promise and stuck with me after reading.


Congratulations to the winners! Your stories will all be featured in our anthology. We aim to publish this by December, however, we are all volunteers with out own time restrictions and responsibilities. We will make every effort to release the anthology as soon as we can. Updates will be posted Facebook and Twitter.

If you didn’t win this year, don’t worry. You’ll get another chance at next year’s competition. Theme and adjudicator tbc – keep your eyes on our page and social media for updates.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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Jumpin’ Jack Flash

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Our first meeting of new season kicked off in style with our speaker Keiron Pim, where he discussed how got started in his career, from starting out working for the EDP, to how he came to write a book about dinosaurs, to finally getting to work on his life’s obsession.

At the end, he graciously read from his book.

The NWC would like to thank Keiron for such an extensive and intriguing talk.

Thank you to everyone who came to the meeting.

 

 

 

 

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Goodbye until September…

The NWC has officially broken up for summer.

Our next meeting will be on 18th SEPTEMBER 2018 at 7:30pm at our new location in Chantry Hall.  

 

 

We have a full programme in store with manuscript evenings, workshops, and speakers including Emma Healey, author of Elizabeth is Missing, and Mitch Johnson, author of Kick.

If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch: norwichwriters@hotmail.co.uk

And don’t forget your entry into the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition.

We hope everyone has a wonderful summer, and we hope to see you in September.

 

 

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Our last meeting of the season

Tuesday 3rd of July was our annual general meeting, and the last meeting of the season. It was also our last meeting at Anteros. In September we will move to Chantry Hall.

Other changes to the group include:

Door fees will be changing. Members will continue to pay £3, while guests will pay as follows:

  • Speaker evenings the door fee for guests will be £7.
  • Other meetings, including workshops and adjudications, will be £5.

It was also the time to give out the trophies to the winners throughout the year:

  • The Cooper Prize – Iain Andrews
  • Past Search Prize for Non Fiction – Phyllida Scrivens
  • Colin Sutton cup for Humour – Phyllida Scrivens
  • Overall Trophy – Phyllida Scrivens

 

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We hope everyone has enjoyed this season as much as we have, and we look forward to seeing you in September. The new programme is live on the website. Remember, we’re moving premises, so we will be meeting at Chantry Hall:

CHANTRY HOUSE MAP

CHANTRY HALL

 

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Change of Plan…

over here nwc blog

Due to a last minute cancellation by our scheduled speaker, our meeting on Tuesday 5th June will no longer be taking place. Instead the group will be attending ‘Made in Norfolk’ event in Mulbarton.

We will NOT be meeting at Anteros on Tuesday 5th June.

If anyone wishes to join us at the event in Mulbarton you are more than welcome. Tickets are £5 per person and can be purchased here:

https://mulbartonwords.yapsody.com/event/index/207251/made-in-norfolk

The rest of our meetings will take place as normal and according to the programme. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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2018 Official Launch Gala

Tuesday 17th April was a momentous day – it was our official launch of the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2018. We held a gala to mark the occasion, as we do each year.

We were treated first to a fascinating talk by Frances and Michael Holmes on the history of the Norwich Market. Norwich market has undergone some astounding changes and is currently the countries largest and oldest outdoor market.

Then we welcomed Kristina Fox, manager of the Norfolk Markets, gave a brief talk about how the market is run today.

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Finally, our adjudicator Alison Bruce explained what she was looking for and gave some helpful tips:

Theme

The theme of this competition is markets but you will also need to consider the theme of your story – the message you want to get across – write an aim and put it above your desk.

e.g. By the end of the story:

  • Dave will find inner peace (redemption)
  • Anna will be reunited with her lost family (healing)
  • Jim and Laura realise they’re in love (romance)
  • Alex takes revenge and regrets it (hate)

You don’t have to spell it out, make sure you’re clear on the theme and it will come through in the story.

 A single conflict

  • Don’t compress a novel into a short story!

Characters

  • Know your characters well.
  • Have a character that the reader can empathise with.
  • What is your character’s greatest strength?
  • Greatest weakness?
  • Greatest desire?
  • Greatest fear?
  • What is the line they will never cross?

Narrative Arc: Planning Your Story

  • Identify your protagonist.
  • Identify the type of conflict they face.
  • Write one sentence for each of the five points on the narrative arc.

A good short story opening should:

  • Pull the reader in immediately.
  • Introduce the character(s) and conflict.
  • Establish point of view.
  • Set the mood of the story.
  • Suggest the setting.

The Four Laws

  • All stories must have tension, struggle or conflict.
  • All conflict must be of vital importance to the character.
  • The consequences of failure must be disastrous (to the character).
  • There must be change, development, realisation or growth by the end.

Style

  • Show, don’t tell.
  • Avoid adverbs.
  • Avoid repetition.
  • Don’t use unnatural language.
  • Be concise.

Editing

  • Have a break before you edit.
  • Follow the guidelines for formatting.
  • A new paragraph each time someone speaks.
  • Check for spelling and punctuation.
  • Read it aloud and amend before you submit it.
  • Make sure you have follow the specified submission guidelines and rules outlined on the competition page before sending your entry.

Genre

Feel free to explore the theme using any fiction genre you see fit. Alison enjoys a vast range of genres. Don’t write a crime story just because she’s a crime writer and you think that’s what she’ll like – it won’t increase your chance of winning. Instead focus on writing a good, strong story regardless of genre.

Alison then quoted Margaret Murphy:

“When you’ve written your stories (and set them aside and edited them and read them again and re-written them) submit them – to competitions, fanzines, magazines, collections – whoever will read them and give you feedback.  You might even win a prize, but even if you don’t – especially if you don’t – you should listen, really listen to what they are trying to tell you. You will understand more with each submission, and will grow as a writer.”

 

Finally, we would like to offer one final piece of advice. Every year, we get emails from entrants asking about how to interpret the theme. The short answer is that it is entirely up to you. Your entry doesn’t have to be about Norwich Market, or even a literal, physical market. For example, your character could work on the stock market, or you could weave a narrative about the job market. There is no limit except your own imagination. Just be sure you consider the theme and explore it as best you can. It might help to think ‘What does the word ‘market’ mean to me?’ and work from there.

If you’re still not sure, you can always check our anthologies to see how winning entrants explored previous themes.

Good luck!

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‘Strangers’ anthology is live!

We are pleased to announce the Olga Sinclair Open Short Story Competition 2017 anthology ‘Strangers’ is now live. It is available worldwide as both an e-book and a paperback.

We would like to thank everyone for their patience through all the delays. We would also like to thank all the entrants into the Olga Sinclair competitions for their participation over the years.