Friday, 16 March 2012

Productive Monday, shock entries and brave, brave Oates

Evening folks – I have some spare time on a Friday night so thought I’d spend it with you guys. Thankfully, I have had a better week than the previous one that I moaned about last time. It started with the indulgence of having a legitimate day off work. I dedicated every moment to my writing. In one day I managed to polish, print and post a short story for a competition organised by ‘Writing Magazine’. And finally, completed the synopsis for ‘Her’ – yes, I know shock horror, it has taken me an age because I was being so self-critical. Anyhow, once complete I printed copies of the first three chapters of ‘Her’ manuscript and posted them to my first three agents….yikes. Which of course is my big news for the week!  

Tuesday, saw my Kindle ebook enter a promotional period of being free and I have to say I was disappointed by the number of uptakes. Only a handful of people downloaded the short story ‘A front row seat’ but never mind, I can but try.

Wednesday - now, I shall apologise for being very general on this topic but you’ll understand why. As an active member of two writers’ groups I have to play my part in events - one being writing competitions. This week I have had to read competition entries, which is a first for me - I have learnt that:-

  • People don’t read or follow the competition  rules and regulations
  • People blatantly exceed the word limit by thousands
  • People use far to many clichés
  • People use swear words when it doesn’t add anything to the character or situation
  • Some people don’t actually write a short story for a short story competition
  • People send entries that are littered with spelling errors
  • People don’t know how to use margins and layout devices
  • People don’t provide a title for their short story
  • People certainly don’t read their work out aloud before sending the entry

I have undertaken the task of reading as a learning curve for myself, as I enter many competitions and have previously wondered what calibre of work is received. I have to say, I'm shocked. When I enter a competition, I am stringent in checking every detail regards rules and regulations – I never assume anything. Font, spacing, payment, word count and contact details are all specifics clearly stated by the organizers. Why pay a couple of pounds entry fee if you aren’t prepared to follow their instructions?  My second piece of advise would be to read the story aloud to another person, even if they aren’t a writer, they will be able to hear the sentence construction, any repetitive words/phrases and the basic flow of the story.

Thursday, I had another duff day due to a failed interview regarding the day job. I spent all day playing the part only to have them choose the candidate that lived over the road from the school! The rest of us, six in total, had travelled a fair distance – all wasted miles. Never mind, onwards and upwards.

And so, we arrive at Friday. I have a full ‘to-do’list for the weekend. Sadly, much is associated with the day job, but a whole chunk is creative. I promise that before I go to bed tonight, I shall write a poem dedicated to Captain Lawrence Oates, who one hundred years ago today did the ultimate in selfless acts to aid Scott’s ill-fated expedition. He left the tent the night before his 32nd birthday (17th March) – his body is yet to be found.  

So, I shall love and leave you to go and draft my dedication to Captain Oates – and, no I’m not going to use his brave words in jest.

Remember you can follow me on ‘Twitter’ by searching and following odwyer_author – please pass this blog onto others who may be interested. Enjoy!

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