Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Useful blog post by Sue Moorcroft

This week I'm going to send you over to the blog of Sue Moorcroft, whose student asks the following question:

If you don’t want to write for weekly magazines and haven’t got the ‘legs’ to write a novel – what other markets are there?

Sue's comprehensive answer can be found here. Her blog is a mine of information of real use to writers, both beginner and experienced.

My own answers to questions I've received from students and writers will return next week.

Lorraine Mace is the co-author of The Writer's ABC Checklist

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Flash 500 Shortlist Announced

I have a somewhat longer than usual post this time. I'm announcing the shortlist for the third quarter of the Flash 500 Competition (and paying tribute to those authors who made the long list but didn’t get through to the final judging). I'm  also letting you know about the fabulous new judge for the final quarter of the year, as well as giving news on publication of the winning entry from the second quarter.

So, let’s get started! Our judge, Sue Moorcroft, will be supplying a judge’s report and giving us the results during the first week of November. As usual there will be cash prizes for first, second and third, with one highly commended author receiving a copy of The Writer’s ABC Checklist. Here is the shortlist (in alphabetical order) for the third quarter of the Flash 500 Competition. Good luck to all the authors.

A Bag for Life
A Knacker's Guide to Ireland
Beef Hash and Corn Bread
Dark Thoughts and Heavy Metal
Find the Lady
Ghost of Christmas Past
Home Fries
Leona's World
Lord Stanton's Horse
Not on the Agenda
On Reflection
Point and Shoot
Sparrows under the Middle Cloud
That's Life
The Compliment
The House on Memory Lane
The Pink Bobble Hat
The Unknown Gladiators
The XY Factor
Things to Throw from a Bridge

Long List
The following twenty stories, also listed in alphabetical order, made the long list – congratulations to the authors concerned. The standard was exceptionally high and to have made this list was an achievement in itself. I hope you will enter your stories in other flash fiction competitions and wish you lots of luck with all your writing endeavours.

A Different Voice by Tracy Fells
Blurring at the Edges by Sallie Tams
Brief Romances by Rachel Pentz
Bull's eye by Mary Healy
Charlie's Angels by Pamela Howes
Dear BBC by Ross Gibson
Empty Promises by Louise Charles
Far From the Mythic Crowd by Oscar Windsor-Smith
Frozen by Jennifer Pulling
Grace by Adele Molson
Happy Ever After? by Vanessa Couchman
Hot Pocket by Bob Thurber
In a Hole by Warren Glover
In Loving Memory by Catherine Burrows
Marked by Vicky Barton
Once Upon a Time by Karla Sally Dearsley
Siamese Whispers by Anya Cates
The Atomic Man is Not Alone by Collin Minnaar
The Balloon and the Skateboard by Lucy Oliver
The Boys in the Wood by Ian Craine

Some Advice
Please, whatever you do, READ THE RULES of this or any other competition you decide to enter. Unfortunately we had a few disqualified entries because the authors didn’t follow the rules set out on the website.

Iain Pattison
Our new judge for the final quarter of this year is Iain Pattison. As you will see from his judge’s page, Iain is a much sought-after competition judge. An author, journalist and writer of fiction, he brings years of experience in the writing field to the task of judging competitions and we are thrilled he has agreed to judge ours.

Winning Story Published
The winning story from the second quarter has been published in the latest issue of Words with JAM. To obtain a copy of this quality ezine you will need to subscribe on the website, but as it’s free, there is no reason not to rush over and do so.

That’s about it, except to say that I hope you will enter this quarter’s competition.

Co-author of The Writers ABC Checklist

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Actively Passive

David from Vancouver sent in the following question. I belong to a writers’ group and keep hearing that writers shouldn’t use the passive voice, but no one can tell me why. What’s wrong with the passive voice and why is it such a taboo?

Because new writers tend to overuse the passive voice, many writing teachers advise their students not to use it. This has resulted in lots of confusion, with people condemning usage of the passive voice without really even knowing what it is – or recognising it when it’s used. However, there is definitely a place for it in modern writing, so it seems a shame that it has become such a taboo.

The passive voice differs from the active voice because it places the emphasis on the result of an action or on the receiver of an action, rather than on the action itself. This is appropriate in cases where the person carrying out the action is unknown, unimportant or anonymous.

A knife was thrown into the room and it hit Jane. This is passive voice. A knife was thrown into the room by John and it hit Jane, is also passive voice, even though we now know that John is the knife-throwing nutter who Jane should most probably have ditched years before.

However, John threw a knife into the room and it hit Jane, is active voice.

Active voice is more immediate and makes it easier to visualise the action. Too many sentences in the passive voice make a written passage wordy and dull and you should limit your use of it, but that doesn’t mean it should never be used. It is particularly useful when you don’t want to let on who has said or done something.

Jane was told John was dangerous. This is passive voice because we have no idea who told Jane she should duck when John turned up with sharp objects. Jane was told by George that John was dangerous, is also passive voice. On the other hand, George told Jane John was dangerous, is active voice.

Either way, Jane should run and John needs to get help with his anger issues.

Lorraine Mace, co-author of The Writer's ABC Checklist, runs Flash 500, a quarterly flash fiction competition.