Sunday, 24 November 2013

Guest blog from Jackie Gingell, author of the hilarious Ee Eye Addyeo (The Farmer Wants a Wife)

I'm often in touch with Jackie. She's a fun person and a good writer, and hugely supportive of Words for the Wounded. We met up again at the Yeovil Literary Festival and as our W4W competition opened and the entries started to come in, I asked if she'd write a blog for us. YES, was the answer. Yippee!

Jackie is one of the Yeovil Literary Prize's winners and has gone on to publication. In fact we have several guest bloggers waiting in the wings who have been YLP's winners. You see, winning helps, being Highly Commended helps, being Commended helps. It enhances your CV. Just entering helps because it encourages  you write to deadlines, and if you only enter to help the fund raising, who knows, it may even introduce you to a new hobby or career. 

So join those who have already entered this year's Words for the Wounded Writing Prize, give the W4W team the pleasure of reading your work whether it be poetry, fiction or non-fiction and help the rehabilitation of the wounded.

Rest assured that every penny raised from donations and entry fees goes towards the wounded.

We raise money separately for the prize money. Freddie Hodgson author of  Putney Ferret contributed generously this year and my son-in-law and his friend Lee endured a Triathlon for us. 

 Remember that this year the theme is The Journey and it can be fiction, non-fiction or poetry using no more than 400 words. Entry is £4.50. Please find out more details from our website.

Soon there will be a poetry blog but for now I hand you over to the lovely Jackie. - Margaret Graham.

Guest blog for W4W by Jackie Gingell.

Short story competitions are an amazing way to hone creative writing skills and there are countless competitions for writers to enter.  Words for the Wounded short story competition however is different and very special.  Words for the Wounded is unique in that entering it may not change your life but it most certainly will help to change someone else’s.  Don't forget that the competition this year is supporting Tedworth House Recovery Centre, in particular the Creative Arts Unit. But  remember that The Words for the Wounded Writing Prize also exists to reward genuine writing talent whether you are a short story writer or poet.

The subject matter of this year’s competition is “The Journey”, a title wide open to interpretation.  It could be a literal journey from A to B, an emotional journey, a rite of passage – the possibilities are endless.  The maximum word length is very specific – up to 400 words.  The discipline of having a limit is great for concentrating the mind and making sure that every word counts.

There are many approaches to short story writing – and I would highly recommend you look at Margaret Graham’s diagram for guidance whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced writer.

 Before I even start writing I will spend ages thinking about different interpretations of the theme.  When I have a rough idea what my story is about I then start to write.  For my first draft I don't worry too much about the length, getting the complete story written down is the priority.  Once this is done then the real fun begins - editing.  I know I may be a bit strange but for me editing is the best bit.  It is in these subsequent drafts (and there may be quite a few) that you need to be ruthless and check that words and phrases all function to do one  thing, to tell the story and to tell it well.  Let your dialogue and actions speak for themselves.

“Get out of my life” she shouted angrily.  The spoken words are strong enough so you don’t really need ‘she shouted angrily’ – 3 words saved. 

“He shrugged his shoulders” well what else would he have shrugged?  “Shrugging he …..” would not only suffice it doesn’t slow down the action – 2 words saved. 

These may seem quite trivial and small savings but trust me if you are ruthless enough they will all add up.  It is not just that in cutting out unnecessary words you are getting your word count down but in doing so you are making the story sharper and more readable.

Finally, having written your story put it to one side for a few days, forget about it, then go back and re-read it.  I bet you will find a few areas that can be improved upon.  When you’re finally happy that it is the best it can be send it off to W4W. 

My novel Ee Eye Addyeo (The Farmer Wants a Wife) started out as a short story, which turned into a novel.  Having written it I was at a loss of what to do or how to contact publishers and agents so I entered the first three chapters and synopsis into the Yeovil International Literary Prize.  It didn’t win but received the accolade of   “Highly Commended”.  This gave me the impetus to take it further.  I like to think that success in the Yeovil competition (and I mentioned it in every covering letter I sent out) meant that my manuscript was given a bit more consideration. So go ahead enter W4W competition and with its modest entry fee you could submit several entries.  Who knows where it could lead.

Jackie Gingell

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