Friday Fictioneers – The Cottage

 

tree-sandra-crook
Photo Prompt © Sandra Crook

Tom has halted beside the woodcutter’s cottage, a stand of burly oaks patrolling the fence line. He can’t make his feet go on.

You picture dread and think of a sudden shape in the underbrush, a howl in the night. If only it were so simple. How little separates us from what we fear!

To count as brave you must first be afraid of death. Tom’s fear runs much deeper. He can see the weave that connects the worlds. The fool’s tried to make us go away, but what use is that when we’re always a part of him?

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.

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Friday Fictioneers – Locked-in

myna-bird
Photo Prompt © Douglas M McIlroy

Nothing. Whiteness. And the hum of a motor. I can see and hear, but when I try to move, nothing. Not restrained, just no muscles. Not even to call out. Without larynx and tongue, the shout remains trapped within me. Am I dead?

Shadows move across the ceiling. People in the room.

Helen’s voice. “How is he doctor?”

“A vegetative state. He may come out of it, he may not.”

The scream inside me has nowhere to go. It may live in me for ever.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view

 

92. How to succeed as a novelist – more facts

In a previous post I summarised Jim Hines’ fascinating survey of the success factors for 246 authors. Now I’ve come across another survey of 150 authors by Graeme Shimmin.

Shimmin
Photo © Graeme Shimmin

The conclusions of the two studies are remarkably similar, despite Hines being from the US and Shimmin from the UK.

Success factor Jim Hines (US)

246 authors

Graeme Shimmin (UK)

150 authors

Average time writing before publication 11.5 years No data
Previous publications track record Only half (52.8%) had published short stories prior to first novel publication Only 28% had published short stories but 86% had some form of prior publication including:

  • 10% self-published novels
  • 11% internet publication
  • 21% journalism
  • 9% non-fiction books

However, paradoxically, 54% said they had no “platform” or that a platform was not a factor in their success

Creative writing qualifications Just under half (48%) had a  relevant degree A third (34%) had a relevant degree.

But 86% had done some sort of writing course mostly non-academic courses or retreats

Networking and contacts  61% had attended a writer’s convention and 59% were members of a writing group.

Three quarters had no contacts before publication.

Less than a quarter of agented authors had been recommended by a friend, and only 5% knew the agent beforehand in a personal capacity.

A quarter (26%) used contacts (of which over half came from working in publishing or a literary agency and a fifth from knowing a published author).

 

Most had some contact with the literary world

 

 

Route to publication Over half (55%) went through an agent. For those achieving breakthrough in the 21st century, agents were involved in two thirds (67%) of the successes

 

No data on competitions or other routes

No specific data on agents

A third (32%)  succeeded with unsolicited submissions (key success factors were the quality of the writing, the commercial nature of the text and the quality of the pitch)

A quarter (26%) went through open submissions or competitions

A quarter (26%) used contacts (see above)

16% were approached by an agent or publisher and asked to submit

Conclusions

  1. Time spent learning your craft is essential. Expect to struggle for years. Joining writing groups, non-academic courses and writers’ retreats may help. Creative writing or English degrees are not necessary.
  2. A track record in publishing short stories is helpful but not necessary, though some form of publication track record may help to create profile and credibility.
  3. Having an agent is increasingly important according to Hines. Shimmin’s survey has no data on agents.
  4. Unsolicited submissions can succeed in a significant minority of cases, especially where the writing has commercial prospects. Entering open submissions and competitions can help, as can working your contacts.
  5. Building up your networks and experience of the writing world may help, though don’t over-emphasise the importance of developing your “platform”

The main difference between the two surveys is Shimmin’s emphasis on networking and contacts, which Hines concludes is not so important. However, this seems to be a question of interpretation, rather than numbers. Their data is similar, indicating that around a quarter of successful submissions went through contacts.

Beans Talk – Scrivener’s Forge 10

This is my response to the Scrivener’s Forge 10 exercise on point of view

jack-giant-800
Storynory.com

 

 

The boy was bad, clean bad, all the way through. Everybody knew it. Take the three bears, for example. He’d broken into their house, scarfed their porridge, and smashed up their furniture. Officer Krupke had called in Jack’s mother to give her a final warning – one more incident and the lad was headed for prison.

Bears, of course, are cuddly. Who doesn’t love a bear? It’s not the same with giants. When folk see me coming, they run and hide. And yeah, I can understand – I’m ugly and, if I don’t look where I’m going, I crush little creatures underfoot and topple small trees.

So it wasn’t really a surprise when Officer Krupke didn’t even bother turn up when I phoned in the complaint about Jack. Just said he’d file a report. So much for one more incident! The little bugger had sold his mother’s only cow for a handful of magic beans. Was out of his skull on them, otherwise he wouldn’t have dared worm and squirm his way into a giant’s home.

I guessed someone had broken in when my hoard of gold coins went missing. Yeah, I suspected Jack but I couldn’t prove it. So I got no help from the cops.

“Dust for prints, you can at least do that” I shouted into the tin can, making the string vibrate.

“You’ve been watching too much TV,” Krupke said. I could tell he was wondering where I’d got the gold coins from in the first place. Things have never been cool between me and the cops since I beat the crap out of that kid David for coming after me with a slingshot. Once you have a record, you never get a fair shake.

Anyhow, I sat guard after that. And sure enough, two days later there was Jack squeezing his scrawny little shoulders in through the burglar bars.  I kept mum to see what he’d do. He was hopped up on magic beans, eyes big, like one of those creatures, wombats or tasers or something. The kid knew what he was looking for, made straight for the hen house. Which is where I keep the goose.

Twelve years of experiments that goose cost me until I perfected a breed that deposited gold in the shell of her eggs. And Jack had her under his arm. That’s when I jumped out.

Well, the rest you’ve heard already. When the boy disappeared, his mother called the police. And they came straight to me because I’d made threats, so they said, found Jack locked in my basement. Suddenly I was the villain!

So that’s how come I’m in the slammer. And Jack? They say he and his ma moved to an executive home in that new development by the river. Like I don’t understand where they got the money for that! He steals my golden goose and I’m doing time? Yeah, right!

Friday Fictioneers – Reflection

fridays-moon-ted-strutz
Photo Prompt © Ted Strutz

“My eyes, something’s happened to my eyes.”

The other passengers shrank back, in case my illness proved catching. If I could see that action, my sight was okay. So, it wasn’t me, it was the world. Something had happened to the world.

I felt the ferry’s engine as a bass vibration in my legs. But we weren’t receding from land. The moon hung motionless in the sky and the reflections from the old customs house on the wharf didn’t shimmer on the stilled waves.

A figure wrapped in a shawl bent close. “You needn’t leave. Go back to her.”

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on point of view.

The Scrivener’s Forge 10 – Point of view

schmiedefeuer
Medoc

History, they say, is a story told by the winners. Stories change enormously depending on whose point of view they’re told from.

Exercise:

Rewrite a well-known fairy tale or legend from the viewpoint of the bad guy. Remember, bad guys rarely believe they’re bad guys and have their own reasons for behaving as they do. Make your point-of-view character believable.

Click the blue frog to post your story

Friday Fictioneers – Wasteland 2

red-apple-rest-jhc
Photo Prompt © J Hardy Carroll

This photo stumped me. So I’m going to repost a story I wrote a year and a half ago, also in response to a similar picture by Joshua.

 

Grandpa scratched his thin beard, the turkey wattle flapping on his neck.  “Dammit, we used to make things, we were somebody.”

I didn’t know why he’d brought me to this derelict building, or what he wanted to teach me. Grandpa was just an old man, to be humoured.

“Can’t see how you’re ever going to amount to anything, Josh.” A sad shake of his head. “You can’t make a world out of selling each other insurance policies and burgers.”

Now, fifteen years on, with the DNA price crashing, Grandpa’s message makes sense.  I stare bleakly at my own wasteland.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on reveals.

 

Friday Fictioneers – Walker

old-shoes-cobwebs
Photo Prompt © Sarah Potter

You reckoned I’d spin you a sob-story with these shoes, didn’t you? Like Hemingway’s “baby shoes, brand new, never worn”.  Or like the boy got his feet blown off in the war and never wore them again. I’d have thrashed him if he’d been that careless.

Liked to walk, my lad did, and he were a good strong walker. One day, he walked and walked, and walked right out of these shoes. Where did he go? Dunno. This story’s a mystery, not the tragedy you was expecting. The shoes live under his bed still, but the boy never came back.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on reveals.

Friday Fictioneers – Miracle at Breakfast

hearty-bread
Photo Prompt © Kelvin M Knight

There’s an image of the Virgin Mary in my toast, picked out in darker browning.  There is, really! I knew yesterday something special was going to happen when I saw that starling with the one milky eye.

On the bird’s sighted side there were empty plastic bags, daily commutes and nastygrams. But on the other side! Oh! On the other side, jewelled castles, miracles and daring quests.

And now, here in my breakfast, the annunciation of my very own miracle.  I kneel, head bowed, and pray – for peace, healing and for Tara in Accounts to notice me.

 

Friday fictioneers is a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fields to write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.

Fancy sharpening your skill with writing exercises? The Scrivener’s Forge offers a new exercise every month to hone one aspect of your craft. Take a look at this month’s exercise on reveals,.

91. The Farnham Short Story Competition

The Fellowship of the Pen, a writers group, meeting in Farnham Surrey, is organising a short story competition in association with The Farnham Herald and Waterstones, Farnham.  The winner will receive an engraved trophy and their story will be published in The Farnham Herald.  The competition opens on 7 September and closes on 2 November.  Names of those short listed will be published on The Farnham Herald website on 7 December.  The winner will be announced at a presentation at Waterstones, Farnham in the middle of December.

Farnham Short story competition

The competition rules are as follows:

  1. The Farnham Short Story Competition is open to anyone in the UK aged 16 or over on 7 September 2017. Members and families of the sponsoring organisations (The Fellowship of the Pen, The Farnham Herald and Waterstones Farnham) may not enter.
  2. The competition opens on 7 September and closes on 2 November. Entries received after this date will not be included.
  3. Stories should be no longer than 1,000 words, excluding the title. Any story exceeding this limit will be rejected.
  4. Stories should be original, have not won a prize in another competition and have not appeared in print or on-line (excluding your own blog).
  5. There is no theme or genre.
  6. Entry to the competition is free. All entries should be sent as an e-mail attachment in Word or PDF format to: farnhamshortstorycompetition@outlook.com. The e-mail must include the title of your story and your name and contact details.  No identifying information must be included in your story.  Please also confirm in the e-mail that you are over 16 years old.
  7. The competition will be judged by the novelist Claire Fuller and writers from The Fellowship of the Pen. All entries will be judged anonymously.  The judges’ decision is final.
  8. The Farnham Herald and The Fellowship of the Pen reserve the right to print the short listed stories. All other copyright will be retained by the entrant.