Good news this week of various kinds. First of all I was delighted to have a phone call on Friday telling me I’ve won third prize in the latest Writespace competition and so straight after this post I’m off to update my Success Stories page yet again ( twice in two weeks can’t be bad! )
The phone call ( from Della Galton, the competition judge and author of How to Write and Sell Short Stories ) also turned into a conversation about wordcount and I’m now happy to be eating some of my earlier words on the matter. My prize-winning story actually came in at 1360 words (pretty close to the Writespace limit of 1500 ) but during my chat with Della she was emphatic that it’s not essential to get close to the limit as long as the story is a good one, pointing out that last year’s Bridport (limit 5000) was won by an entry of only 1000. This is very goood news for those of us who struggle to get over 2500, and all I can say is thank you to Della and Bridport here we come! But that’s a year away. Meanwhile Preparing for Winter will be up on the Writespace website next month.
Just to make Della’s point stick in my mind, the weekend’s next discovery was that the winner of the Bristol Prize (where my beloved Mouse Years failed to show) came in at less than 500 words. I have to say this is even more of a surprise and one that I think definitely challenges convention. 350 in my book is ‘flash fiction’ and even if I did have any clogging up my writer’s drawer, I doubt I would have submitted it to a ‘short story’ competition.
But challenging convention is a good thing and this should give huge encouragement to short-short fiction writers. At least we all know now that a limit is, as it says, a limit. In this competition (and in many others) there is no lower limit. Writers take note. And I am really looking forward to reading Valerie O’Riordan’s Mum’s the Word when my copy of the Bristol Anthology arrives.