Friday, 2 May 2014

Scandinavian writing

One of the great things about running this competition is the way that it connects you with the great literary traditions of the world.
Entries from North America remind you that it is credited with creating the short story, tales from Australia that there has long been a thriving writing community, stories from England that the country was home to William Shakespeare (now whatever happened to that lad, did he do OK for himself?), stories from Africa that the continent has a remarkable heritage when it comes to creating compelling stories, and so on.
And stories from Scandinavia? Well, this blog started because we have had one or two recent entries from that part of the world into the Global Short Story Competition.
Scandinavia has a proud literary tradition and it is one that goes back to the very birth of stories - storytelling.
For all storytelling can be a different art - watch a storyteller hold an audience in his or her thrall to see that - there are, of course, a great many affinities with the writing of fiction.
There is the creation of characters and places, of pace and tension, of evoking strong emotions in the reader/listener, of leaving people changed even if only in a small way. Both a storyteller and an author would regard that as job done.
I tried my hand at storytelling a few years ago. I was a real novice and relied on notes the first time I did it. The kids were ok but I felt it lacked something so I threw away the piece of paper and next time just winged it and let the stories tell themselves. It was a liberating experience and I was such a success that I was never asked back!
I cannot finish this blog, though, without pointing out, as a crime novelist, that Scandinavia has produced some of the very finest exponents of the genre in recent years.

John Dean

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