for writers and readers….

How to write a short story….and enter a competition

I recently came across the WikiHow entry on how to write a short story. The actual article contains good advice, but I arched an eyebrow when I read the introduction.

While writing a novel can be a Herculean task, just about anybody can craft and, most importantly, finish, a short story.”

No, they can’t – unless the writer means that almost anybody can produce 1000+ words of grammatically correct sentences that somehow link up together, but that’s no more a short story than a roll of material pinned into a tube is a dress.

I resent the idea that short stories are an easy option. The very size means there’s nowhere to hide flabby ideas and weak sentences. A clunky phrase stands out as brashly as if it had been highlighted in neon yellow…


You can read more of what I have to say on the Hysterectomy Association’s blog – I’m writer in residence for the medical charity to support their 2014 writing competition – short story, flash fiction and poetry .

international writing competition

This is an international woman-only competition and and you can write about anything “relevant to women”  EXCEPT erotica, horror or having an hysterectomy…

Stories can be up to 2000 words, flash fiction 200 words and poems up to 20 lines. Closing date is August 31st (it’s not that far away when you include thinking and editing time) and the cost is £5 per entry. Prizes are £150 for the short story, £75 for flash fiction, £75 for the poem plus publication in an anthology. As with all competitions, study  the rules carefully

photo credit: aiscube  via photopin cc

8 comments on “How to write a short story….and enter a competition

  1. Karen
    May 19, 2014

    When I started bloging and writing my novel, I knew that I needed some challenges to improve my writing. The first and really difficult challenge was – to write a short story. I wholeheartedly agree that there is nowhere to hide suboptimal ideas and/or structures.
    My new year’s resolution comprised two short stories per month. It is an effort, yet it is worth every minute.
    My newest challenge is to participate in Flash Fiction Friday (150 words +/-10) – hard work…

    • bridget whelan
      May 19, 2014

      Glad you like this post and share my irritation about short stories being seen as apprentice pieces before moving onto real writing. Impressed by the challenges you’ve set yourself. I think this is something we all have to do to keep on keeping on – for some the deadlines of competitions are a big motivator…for others it’s a set target….or a thousand words a day…

  2. josiedarling
    May 19, 2014

    Sent from Samsung Mobile

  3. julietwilson
    May 22, 2014

    I agree, good short stories are incredibly difficult to write, there’s no room for flabby writing, you need to make absolutely every word count.


  4. t upchurch
    July 25, 2014

    This post reminds me, in a way, of Michelle Elvy’s gorgeous flash fiction, ‘Love, Story’, which, if I can manage to link up to it, is here.

    • bridget whelan
      July 25, 2014

      Thank you for this gift of a story. Everyone reading this must click on the link – you’ll be so much the better for it!

  5. Pingback: The clock is ticking….only four days left to enter this international writing competition | BRIDGET WHELAN writer

  6. poetcaro
    January 24, 2015

    Reblogged this on poetcaro's Blog and commented:
    Thank you Bridget this is all really good stuff

Leave a Reply to julietwilson Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: