We are not looking for the big names of the literary world, rather the talented authors who remain to be discovered, the voices which are as yet unheard, the stories as yet untold, the writers ignored by the publishing industry.
The prize for the monthly competition is £100 to the winner, £25 to the highly commended and £250 for the end of year one.
Monday May 18 at Darlington Arts
Festival sees A Night with the Inkerman Writers, of which I am member, at Voodoo
Café, Skinnergate 7pm Free The Darlington-based writers
group will read a selection of their prose and poetry.
Here’s some more thoughts on starting short
The first cardinal rule of opening lines
is that they should possess most of the individual elements that make up the
story. An opening paragraph should have a distinctive voice, a point of view, a
rudimentary plot and some hint of characterisation. By the end of the first
paragraph, we should also know the setting and conflict, unless there is a
particular reason to withhold this information.
You might be tempted to begin your
narrative before the action starts, such as when a character wakes up to what
will eventually be a dramatic day. Far better to begin at the first moment of
something interesting happening, though, which is more likely to grab the
If you feel compelled to begin a story
with dialogue, keep in mind that you’re thrusting your readers directly into a
story in which it’s easy to lose them early on. So keep the dialogue to a
minimum. Oneway around this is to begin
with a single line of dialogue and then to offer some context before proceeding
with the rest of the conversation.
a story evolves so significantly during the writing that an opening line, no
matter how brilliant, no longer applies to the story that follows. The only way
to know this is to reconsider the opening sentence once the final draft is
complete. Often a new opening is called for.
I hope this
forthcoming Darlington Arts Festival event interests.
232.30--4pm -A Life of Crime
Gallery, Crown Street Library, Darlington
crime writers Bud Craig, whose recently published second novel is Dead
Certainty, Mike Beck, author of Harry’s Torment, and John Dean, whose latest
novel is A Breach of Trust, talk about their life of crime, including
explaining why they love the genre and readings from their work. Free event
Here's my thoughts on the rules of short story writing 1 . The best stories are the ones that follow a fairly narrow subject line: too many plotlines and you end up with a novel!
2. An effective short story often covers a very short time span. It may be one single episode that proves pivotal in the life of the character.
3. Don't have too many characters. Each new character will bring a new dimension to the story, and too many diverse dimensions dilute the theme. Have only enough characters to effectively tell the story.
4. Make every word count. There is no room for unnecessary expansion in a short story. If each word is not working towards putting across the story, delete it.
I’ve been doing a lot of teaching on the
idea of ideas lately and came across these excellent quotes.
·People always want to know: Where do I get
my ideas? They're everywhere. I'm inspired by people and things around me.
(Gwendolyn Brooks, American poet)
·My standard answer is "I don't know
where they come from, but I know where they come to, they come to my
desk." If I'm not there, they go away again, so you've got to sit and
think. (Philip Pullman, English writer)
·Ideas come to a writer, a writer does not
search for them. "Ideas come to me like birds that I see in the corner of
my eye," I say to journalists, "and I may try, or may not, to get a
closer fix on those birds." (Patricia Highsmith, American crime writer)
·It's very blurred, it's not clear. The
plan is something which gradually evolves. Usually, I'll just start with one
particular idea or certain image or even just a mood and gradually it'll kind
of grow when other things attach themselves to it. (Jane Rogers, British
novelist, editor, and teacher)
·Anything can set things going--an
encounter, a recollection. I think writers are great rememberers. (Gore Vidal,
American novelist, playwright, essayist)
·You can write about anything, and
if you write well enough, even the reader with no intrinsic interest in the
subject will become involved.
(Tracy Kidder, literary journalist)
·"From you," I say. The crowd
laughs. I look at the woman asking the question; she seems innocent enough. I
continue. "I get them from looking at the world we live in, from reading
the paper, watching the news. It seems as though what I write is often extreme,
but in truth it happens every day."
(A. M. Homes, American novelist and short story writer)
·My usual, perfectly honest reply is,
"I don't get them; they get me."
(Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist, playwright, and critic
Crime novelist and creative writing tutor John Dean has
launched an online Crime Fiction Course.
John, author of 12 novels published by Robert Hale,
and the creator of DCI John Blizzard and DCI Jack Harris, also runs Inscribe
Media Ltd, which is based in Darlington in North East England, which will be
offering the course.
The online course, which runs in eight parts and can
begin at a time and date to suit the student, will help writers to improve
their technique and improve their chances of being successful, either in
competitions or admissions to publishers.
When they enroll, students will be offered ongoing one-to-one
feedback on their work, be it short stories or novels.
John, whose latest novel A Breach of Trust came out in
January 2015, and who is a member of the UK-based Crime Writers’ Association, said:
“Writing can be a lonely pastime and my aim is to help aspiring writers to
improve their technique and improve their chances of being successful in a very
“Crime fiction remains hugely popular and, hopefully,
I can help aspiring writers to develop their ideas, and because it is online it
does not matter where they live. In recent years, I have worked with writers
from everywhere from Croatia to Australia and New Zealand.”
There is no official certificate of qualification at
the end of the course, which will be led by John and features:
• Personal attention
• Exercises and practical work
• Discussions by email
• Because the tutor is on line, you
can do the work at time and pace that suits you
Themes to be included are:
An examination of where ideas come from - what triggers ideas in writers?
Once you have the idea, how do you develop it? The
course will look at the art ofplotting
How can you use places and landscapes to aid your story
How do you pick characters to do the job? What are
their functions in storytelling? This will include a look at creating villains
How conflict can be used to develop stories that
assume a life of their own
That all important start to your story - how do you
grab the reader right from the off?
Writing with pace - how do you produce a narrative
that keeps your reader turning the page?
Pulling it all together - how to produce the finished
piece of work.
Editing - how to make those changes that make all the
A reminder that, in addition to the
various free things we do, one of the paid-for services we offer is one
Why should you hire a professional writing
mentor, though? Isn’t it enough to attend a class/workshop or a writing group?
Or ask a friend or relative to comment?
Well, it depends what you want and need
and bespoke mentoring from Inscribe Media can help some writers, providing the
experience and expertise to -
• understand your work
• nurture you and your writing
• let you retain control of your ideas and
* provide expert, specific advice about
what is working and what isn’t.
We focus on major issues, such as how your
story hangs together, what your characters are doing or could be doing, what is
hurting your story’s momentum, what story elements are not pulling their
We identify the differences between good
and great and point out your writing strengths, so you become confident about
what not to change.
We also give suggestions and help you
establish good processes and writing goals and suggest markets for your work.
If long-term mentoring does not appeal, we
run short writing courses as well.
You can find out more at
can also access our free downloadable writing guide here at www.inscribemedia.co.uk
and find loads of free tips on our blog here