Story Time

story sTime to think about story writing again. This week’s creative writing prompt is intended to start you off on a short fiction journey, just as the annual Francis MacManus Short Story Competition opens here in Ireland.

Ten authors will have their stories read by professional actors for broadcast on RTÉ Radio One. The winner lands a satisfying €3,000 cash prize.

Last year’s competition attracted an impressive 4,000 entries, but don’t let that put you off. Someone has to win, why shouldn’t it be you?

As always, read the rules (of any competition) thoroughly, especially those that require eligibility, word count and subject matter. Nothing too sweary or sexy if it is to be read out on the radio, for example. And out with all the isms – you know, racism, sexism, ageism…  And this competition asks for between 1800 and 2000 words, so don’t go under or over the limits. You have until May 7th, and it is one free entry for anyone living on the island of Ireland – or anyone anywhere else in the world with an Irish passport.

So here’s an idea for you:

Your theme is ‘losing it’.

Losing what? Your temper, your keys, your virginity, your grandmother, your favourite fountain pen? Or hope, hair, cash, health, sight, friends, power? There’s always something we can lose, and writers can always make something of such a story.

That’s your cue to get writing. Your choice is what point of view (me, you, him/her), and tense (present, future, past). Don’t forget to add some dialogue to move the story along – and make something happen to your characters, something to intrigue your readers/listeners.

You can listen back to previous winning entries, which is always interesting, here.

And if you are in the mood for a different kind of good read (rather than a listen), check out the excellent winning entry in the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Competition. This annual UK competition looks for entries up to 6,000 words long, so it’s a different approach to the shorter length stories. But Edward Hogan’s 5,600 word ‘Single Sit’ is well worth a read – find it here.

New to this site? Welcome! I post a prompt to trigger new creative writing every Wednesday at 5pm, Dublin time. Sometimes stories, flash fiction, memoir, poetry, creative non-fiction. There’s more info here.