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Writers' & Artists' Blog

On The Road: A Writer's Journey

Bloomsbury asked me to blog about the journey from writing my manuscript to winning the inaugral Bath Children's Novel Award, with my YA novel, Hurts So Good. What’s it like to win? Thrilling. And terrifying. Now, more than ever, I need to be clear in my head, about what I want to write. And why.

My manuscript evolved from an exercise on the Bath Spa MA Writing For Young People. We had to show character through action and dialogue, I thought about the worse thing my protagonist could do, and for me, that was abducting a baby.

The story of teenagers, stealing a baby caused controversy, from the get go. Violence is not my bag, so Hurts So Good is a psychological thriller, with the Nordic Noir emphasis on family and setting. I wanted readers to empathise with 16-year-old Ellie, not judge her actions, but to feel compassion and dread for her. The Norwegian Fjords and ancient forests, with wolves, gives my YA story its vibe of jeopardy and beauty.

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Short Story Competition 2016: Winner Revealed!

Natasha Pulley

The time has come. Natasha Pulley, author The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and this year's guest judge of our annual Short Story Competition, has chosen two runners up and her overall winner. So without further ado, here we go....

The first runner up, who will receive a copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2016 is... 'What They Did With The Hairspray' by Chris Edwards-Pritchard

Feedback from Nastasha Pulley: This is an immensely detailed and understated piece. The way the characters speak is quirky and peppery, and never expositional; they talk about what people really talk about (music and traffic) and they’re always doing something else or thinking of other things while they speak. The use of language is marvellous, especially verbs —‘caterpillaring’ is lovely.  The sense of much bigger things swimming below the surface is effective too; Jack, family problems, the nature of the mother’s work. With a topic like ageing, it’s very easy to become …

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‘A Few Words a Day’ and Other Writing Myths

Sam Audley

How many articles have you read saying that you have to write a few words every day to be an author? I know I’ve read many along those lines and I’ve heard many authors wheel out the same comment when talking about their craft. Numbers of words are often cited as though they were a tenet of faith to which an author must adhere or be damned, and invariably five hundred to a thousand words a day is quoted. 

Certainly, we all need to apply ourselves to our writing or our novel does not progress, but I think that setting an unnatural benchmark misses the point that creativity is just that and it cannot be rushed or forced in any way. For me the thought of writing some rubbish every day just to comply with a myth about the best way to write is complete nonsense.

Given that we are all different, why should our writing styles all be squeezed into the same sausage-making machine to emerge in exactly the same shape? Surely the content is more critical and to create nuanced and readable …

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Writers' & Artists' Short Story Competition 2016 Shortlist

Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 2016

What a year we've had already! Writing courses, events galore and articles all across the site from authors offering advice on the writing process. And now this - one of our favourite dates in the W&A Calendar.

Once again, our annual Short Story Competition has proven as popular as ever. We've had thousands of entries (2,208, 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 - Natasha Pulley - whittling things down until just ten entries remained. And here they are.

The stories on this year's shortlist, and being considered for a prize of £500 and place on an Arvon writing course, are as follows:

  • Home Ageing by Robert Montgomery
  • What they Did with the Hairspray by Chris Edwards-Pritchard
  • Hugs for the Railway Man by Sarah Baxter
  • Transport by Mark Brandi
  • Your Pension Guarantee by Simon Van der Velde
  • Where Are We Now by Frances Gapper
  • Farewell, Heidelberg by Armeen Kapadia …

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Writing Prompts Make You A Better Writer

Writing prompts

The Benefits of Writing Prompts

Building writing prompts into your writing routine will make you a better writer. Not only will writing prompts get the creative juices flowing, but they can also help you warm-up for a productive writing session and even enable you to develop a wider writing skill-set. It can be easy to get stuck in a rut or stick to what you know, but writing prompts are all about chucking you out of your comfort zone and getting you thinking and writing very quickly.

Writing prompts enable you to:

•   Explore new styles and content in a small, safe test environment. Try something new…

•   Be more creative as you are led by the prompts rather than any of your own ideas/preconceptions.

•   Focus and concentrate at a high level on a relatively short writing task.

Writing prompts as warm-ups

Mo Farrah doesn’t run marathons without warming up, Adele doesn’t take to the stage without warming up, so why …

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