Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Setting goals for writers

After tackling the Inner Critic in last week's class -- we each even interviewed our own, Jeremy Paxman style -- we ended with that Waterstone's story-on-a-(large)-postcard competition. Some felt pleased enough to read out; I hope they entered them!

Of course these in-class quickies do not suit all writing students, and can't be counted on to produce anything useable. But sometimes the rush is just the trick for a nearly-finished little piece. Or the results are worth further development.

Speaking of competitions, don't forget the Bridport Prize, deadline 30th June. Not for the slap-dash entry, encourage all writers to polish, polish, polish their up-to 5000 words (or 42 lines of poetry). This has major prizes (1st = £5000), major judges (Helen Simpson, David Harsent) and gets serious publishing attention.

You can make a whole lesson, or series, out of competitions, analyzing their anthologies, determining the differences between 2000 word limits and 5000 word limits etc.

I usually issue a handout each term listing top competitions, heading it 'Set Your Goals'. Time to update it... watch this space.

Meanwhile, by the end of our Critic interviews most of us managed to get a grudging compliment from the monster.

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