Why you should enter Story Tyne 2018

North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition has its deadline next month, the 27th September, and if you haven’t entered already, then you definitely should. Especially (but not exclusively) if you’re in the North East. Story Tyne is one of few remaining free-to-enter short story competitions, a rarity these days, which means you truly have nothing to lose in entering, but an awful lot to gain.

In 2014, when the theme was ‘the Great War’, I was lucky enough to win the competition, and it’s definitely one of the highlights of my writing life. Let’s be honest, even if we don’t admit it openly, deep down, most of us writers are after a validation of sorts, and what can be better than having a stranger judge your story to be one of the best entries submitted, and even better, get a prize for it as well!

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This year’s theme is “Beginnings”, giving you plenty of scope to get creative with themes and topics, so get brainstorming – after all, you have over a month to get your story drafted, edited, and tweaked to perfection. You can download a copy of the Story Tyne 2018 entry form here.

I won’t be entering this year, because, excitingly, this time I’m on the other side of things, being a judge! It’s not the first time I’ve been involved in judging a writing competition, having helped Victoria Watson with the Jesmond Library writing competition, but I’m excited to be on a brilliant panel to discuss the Story Tyne entries, alongside last year’s winner Penny Blackburn, and Story Tyne stalwart (and also previous winner), Victoria again. Given we’re all good friends, I’m intrigued to see whether we have the same taste in story types!

If you do decide to give this a go, here’s some of the best advice I’ve received and taken, in terms of competitions and short stories:

  • Brainstorm or mind-map all the ideas you can think of related to “beginnings”, but then cross out the first five or ten: They’re probably the first ones which came to other peoples’ minds too, and you want to stand out from the crowd.
  • Read other competition-winning short stories: This isn’t to say the same type of story will win each time, but it will give you a flavour of the level of plot involved, and how these have been developed.
  • Write your story ahead of schedule: The best thing you can do with any piece of writing, for a competition or otherwise, is leave it alone for at least a week before doing whatever you were planning to. This helps you notice the errors which you missed the first time around, things like changes in perspective, plot problems, and typos (we always read what we think we’ve written, after all!).
  • Think about doing a ‘story swap’ with a writing buddy: A second pair of eyes on a story can help spot some of the things you might have missed yourself during your own read-throughs.

Happy Writing!

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