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Writers' & Artists' Blog

Top Tips On Writing Crime Fiction

On the evening of 5th April 2017, I attended the Writers & Artist’s How to Write Crime Fiction masterclass, with best-selling author Mark Billingham. It was a fantastic introduction to writing crime fiction – talking rules and when to break them. 

Here are 10 top tips I learnt from Mark:


1. Write the book you want to read

As a writer, don’t look for gaps in the market. Instead, write about what interests you as a reader  as this is likely to interest other people too. 


2. Choose a strong opening

You need to hook the reader quickly and early. You have 15 seconds in a bookshop to ‘sell’ your book through the cover, blurb and first few paragraphs. Lure the reader in with a killer sentence or anything that asks a question. This is essential if you’re submitting a manuscript to an agent or publisher, as this will make the difference between them reading your first three chapters or not. 


3. Decide on your point of view (POV)

You may find you write more …

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Short Story Competition 2017: Winner Revealed!


Once again, The W&A team have been blown away by the number of entries for the short story competition this year – 2,108 to be precise! 

Although no theme was set for this year’s competition, we saw some common threads emerging. 

These included stories about dementia and Alzheimer's, mistaken identity, near-death experiences and reflections on life and mortality more generally.

Overall, the tales were more contemplative and reflective and our winning entries reflect these prevailing themes. They are linked by characters experiencing grief, loss and longing.

Without further ado, let's announce the winners!


This year's winner is... Evie by David Simmonds.

Feedback from Alysoun Owen, Editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook:

Evie is a cross-generational tale of family, love, memory, longing and untold stories. It has a quiet, reflective tone. It is well told, with a strong beginning, a clear, concise sense of time and space as we start the story right in the midst …

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Short Story Competition 2017: Shortlist


Once again, our annual Short Story Competition has proven as popular as ever. We've had thousands of entries (2,134, to be precise!) and it's been an absolute joy to get a glimpse of your writing. A shortlist, however, had to be settled on, with this year's judge - our very own editor of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook Alysoun Owen - whittling things down until just ten entries remained. And here they are!

Chasing The Shadow – Jane Fraser

Evie – David Simmons

Encounter – Annie Fairfax Kemp

Into The Abyss – Louise Mangos

A Taste Of Something Different – Lee Wadmore

Crescent Bay – Emma Davies

One Moment – Amanda Staples

Passed Over – Marie Gethins

The Suitcase – Hilary Hopker

The Pilgrims – Steve Hosking

The winner and two runners-up will be announced here before the end of March, with Alysoun due to provide feedback on each of the chosen entries.

For those of you who haven't made the shortlist this year, enter the code #

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Be a Better Writer

In her book, 10 Rules of Writing, Elmore Leonard advised would be authors to – ‘Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray’. Whilst Ernest Hemmingway famously wrote, ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is just sit at a typewriter and bleed.’

But surely there’s more to great writing than simply praying and hemorrhaging at your desk… I’ve analysed advice by famous authors in an attempt to discover how to become a better writer.  My favourite tips are listed below; let me know what you think of them.

1. “Find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!” – Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

How to use it:

At first glance it seems Bradbury is advocating a sort of voodoo magic in the creative writing process whereby protagonists take care of the plot for you. However I think what he’s really saying here is that your characters should …

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10 Writing Touchstones: Identity

‘Just be yourself’ is about the worst advice anyone can give. It’s the “just” that does it. The perceived thing changes: if you’re self-conscious, you’re not the same as when you’re unobserved. You’re also different with every friend, pet and family member in your life. Every personality has facets, every life has eras and everybody has good and bad days. Still, these sides and eras are united in an essential self. When feeling confident, engaged and safe, that self can be accessed more fully. That’s the goal, on the page or off. It’s difficult to eliminate stress factors, self-doubt and self-consciousness. Being yourself is anything but a “just”.

Writing to please yourself is the best way to learn about your own identity as a writer. Your voice and ideas aren’t compromised; you’re free to experiment and explore. Each Green Ink Writers’ Gym warm-up begins with one rule: no editing or self-criticism. This licensed self-exploration makes the blank page …

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