Powers Short Story Competition: advice from some of Ireland’s finest writers
The shorter they are, the better. The reader does not want to have to use a bookmark.
Nothing much needs to happen. But the nothing much has to be completely fascinating. Avoid writing about the weather. No one cares what it’s doing outside. Also, a bit of dialogue every so often never hurt anyone.
Don’t rewrite when you’re working on a first draft. Plough ahead. Reach an ending. On the second draft, lose most of the words from the first draft and think up new ones.
You don’t have to know much about your story before you begin it. Just start with an interesting line. Follow it up with another interesting line. A series of these can lead you to unexpected places.
Read some Tobias Wolff short stories. Accept that you’ll never write one that is as good as his worst one but try anyway. Don’t name your stories with song titles. You didn’t write that song.
Read your work aloud. Listen to the rhythm of the sentences, the cadence of the language. Do not use acronyms like LOL or OMG or OMFG or WUU2 or LMFAO, particularly if you’re at an age where your knees buckle but your belt won’t.
Write another story before going back to rewrite the first one.
Enter every competition, submit to every magazine and newspaper. Short stories are not word documents that sit on your hard drive.
Ignore all rules for writing that you read. There are no rules in writing.
See last year's winning stories in Celebrating What Truly Matters Vol 1, available to buy at thankyouproject.ieor tel: 01-679 3188
For your chance to win €10,000, submit your story (450 words) online to www.irishtimes.com/powersYour story should reflect the theme "Celebrating what truly matters". Postal entries will not be accepted. For full terms and conditions, see irishtimes.com/powers. Closing date is 11.59pm on April 17th, 2012.