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

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

STOP PRESS!!! 2nd W4W Writing Prize opens on Nov 11th. Read Santa Montefiore's tips to get you in the mood. by Margaret Graham

STOP PRESS!!!!  The second Words for the Wounded writing competition opens on 11th November 2013 and the closing date is not until 11th March so you have a nice long time. The entry fee is £4.50 and there is a 1st prize of £250, a 2nd of £100 and a 3rd of £50. Wonderful news! Writers' Forum are publishing the winners again.  Remember it can be poetry, fiction or non-fiction just so long as you don't exceed 400 words.

Also remember that to be a prize winner is good for a writer's cv.

Please go to Words for the Wounded to find out more about the competition and how you can enter  - we just love reading all the entries - or perhaps you'd just rather donate. Rest assured, every penny goes to the wounded for their rehabilitation. This year we have a theme: the journey. It can either be a physical or emotional journey.

To get you in the mood and cheer you on we are privileged to have some writing tips for you courtesy of one of our most successful authors, the lovely Santa Montefiore. Santa was the speaker at the Yeovil Literary Festival’s Literary Dinner (Seen here with Adam Bergen, Manager of The Octagon Theatre) and delighted everyone with her charm and hilarious literary anecdotes.

Santa Montefiore is the author of 14 bestselling novels and feels it’s her task to help us escape to sunnier shores whilst reminding us of all that’s stunning about England. Her novels are absorbing love stories that make us cry and laugh in equal measure.

She was born in England, growing up on a farm in Hampshire and was educated at a Dorset boarding school where one of her inspirational English teachers was our very own W4W team member Penny Deacon (Crime and Romance author).

Santa converted to Judaism in 1998 and married historian Simon Sebag Montefieore in the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London.

She wrote her first novel as a teenager which was promptly rejected. As she says ‘I hadn’t yet found a good story.’

The story was waiting in the wings. Santa spent a year on an estancia in the Argentine pampa before university. She loved it, the country and the people, and one person in particular! After a year she returned to England and university but longed to go back to the place where she felt she had a ‘place’. In her university break she did just that, but everyone had moved on and she no longer fitted. She had her story.

That was 14 bestselling novels ago.

A few reviews:

Daily Telegraph: ‘A gripping romance. It is as believable as it is beautiful.’

Penny Vincenzi: ‘Engaging and charming.’

Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey. ‘Santa Montefiore really knows these people inside and out. I couldn’t put this book down.

The Times: ‘One of our personal favourites and bestselling authors, sweeping stories of love and families spanning continents and decades.’

Secrets of the Lighthouse is her most recent and you will love it. It’s one of those unputdownable reads.

Santa's tips.

1.  Write for yourself, not with a view to getting published.  This will release you from self-consciousness enable you to write from the heart without worrying what other people may think.

2.    Write from the heart with integrity, not contriving to write something ‘fashionable or marketable’ – if you love what you write and really enjoy doing it, the chances are you will be infectious and your reader will love it too.

3.    Write about what you know.  Don’t be too ambitious and research something that is well out of your experience.  Try to use what you already know, it’s more likely to be believable that way.

4.    Get it written then get it right.  You can spend months polishing and polishing the first chapter and never get any further. Just write the book, the whole thing, without looking back, and then, once you have the story down, you can play with it as much as you like.  I find that many people can write a chapter or two, but it takes discipline to write an entire book.  Push past the first few chapters, you might find your voice in the 6th chapter, in which case keep going, then rewrite the first 6 chapters afterwards if you need to.  The wonder of computers is you can delete and add so easily.

5.    Be inspired by writers you admire. Read their work and learn from them.

6.    Character is so important.  It’s the characters that drive the plot.  Take time to develop them and observe people around you – the world is full of quirky, eccentric people who make great copy!

7.    Never give up. You only need one agent and one publisher.  Listen to advice from people you respect and keep at it.  We’ve all had rejections, but we always kept going!

So there you have it. Wise words indeed from Santa. There are many other tips in our previous blogs, so get reading, and then writing, to help our wounded live their long lives in the best possible way.