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15 Wily Ways to Write Better Stories plus How to Win Writing Contests for Profit
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Welcome to the home of wicked writing!
You're in good company. Here you'll find articles, tips and blog posts galore on how to succeed as a fiction writer, whether you pen short stories, novellas or - oh, brave person! - novels, in any genre whatsoever.
Please click around my site and enjoy...
We've temporarily suspended the contest. Reason? The contest has run for seven years since 2009 and become one of the world's premier awards for new writers. It has attracted more than 6000 entries in that time, representing some 16 million words, and given away in excess of $20,000 in prize money.
We are deeply grateful for our contestants' support and the joy so many gave us in reading their work. The winners' names and stories will continue to be displayed here to honour their achievement.
However, our core mission has always been to encourage and inspire debut authors and to provide practical coaching in the crafts of fiction writing through our blog and courses. Judging and administering the contest absorbed a vast amount of time, around 1000 hours annually. That time could better be applied to helping writers individually, we decided.
So we are suspending the contest to focus on our well established coaching programs Story PenPal and the Writers' Village Academy.
You are warmly invited to explore Story PenPal, a fun low-cost program that gives you endless feedback on your stories.
Will the Writers' Village award return one day? Very possibly. To coin a cliché: watch this space!
Dr John Yeoman, MA Oxon, MA (Res), MPhil, PhD Creative Writing. John is a university tutor in creative writing and has been a successful commercial writer and publisher for 42 years. He established Writers' Village in 2009. He is the author of the acclaimed writing manual, How Did The Author Do That? - a book that shows you how to write a great novel while you enjoy the novel. His 'Hippo Yeoman' mysteries have gained more than 100 5-star reviews across five Amazon sites.
What they told us about our writing programs
Barbara Davis. Virginia, USA. "I greatly appreciate your kindness, your willingness to share your vast knowledge with emerging writers, and your spot-on, cogent critique! Your suggestions will be taken to heart while editing this piece."
Beverley Jackson. Amsterdam. "I really love your can-do approach, your fierce rejection of snobbishness and acknowledgment that even writers have to make a living. I just self-published my first book, A Month with Starfish, and I don't think I would have done so without the kind and incisive feedback you gave me."
Ken Margolin. Newtonville, USA. "I posted a 3500+ word story at Story PenPal, The Trestle, for your critique. I took your advice, submitted it to a few online journals, and to my happy surprise, it was accepted by Short Fiction Breaks. Thank you for your writing wisdom!"
Barbara Hudson. Bath, England. "I’m happy to tell you that my novel Timed Out ... will be published in April by Driven Press. I am sure that [your feedback] helped it on its way. So thank you."
Maaja Wentz. Ontario. "I think you're one of the cleverest writing instructors on the Internet!"
Neva Brown. UK. "You gave me some VERY good writing advice. I thought you might enjoy seeing my third book at the top of the Soul Mate Publishing newsletter."
Anthea Jones. Deagon, Australia. "I've just started editing my novel now. Amazing the difference between the quality of what I wrote at the start and the end! The change is mainly due to your Academy modules."
Michelle Coote. Queensland, Australia. "Your feedback is very helpful and gives clear guidance on the areas I can focus on for improvement. Everything you offer - your website (and blog), writing tuition and the competition - has been of great benefit to me."
Jenny Heap. Warwickshire, England. "I was most impressed that you were able to give such genuinely considered, insightful and helpful feedback – a definite bargain!"
Gun Caundle. Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. "[Following
your feedback], I won the Takahe Cultural Studies competition for my
story Ross. I also put this down to your lessons. They have raised the
quality of my writing."
Lorna Lennon. County Wicklow, Ireland. [Shortlisted winner 2013] "While I was delighted at winning the prize, the icing on the cake really was the prompt communication and advice, speedy set-up on the site and quick payment. All in all, a very positive experience and you should be congratulated on your professionalism."
Mark Sheehan. Cwmbran, Torfaen. "Your [feedback] is well worth the entry fee alone."
Carrie Mumford. Alberta, Canada. "I can't thank you enough for your helpful feedback. You run a wonderful contest and website. Thank you for offering this to aspiring authors! I'll be sure to share news of your contest and website with my writing group."
Carolyn McKenzie. Auckland, New Zealand. "Thank
you very much for your feedback on my story. I
particularly like your marking system and suggestions. I consider my entry fee very
well spent indeed."
David Hill. Eastbourne, England. "Your advice on short story competitions is excellent. I have followed it and won one competition and been shortlisted in two others so far."
Nancy Pawelek. Ottawa, Ontario. "Getting your [feedback] WAS worth the entry fee. I appreciated the conciseness of your advice and your encouragement. Seeing the points for each element now helps me focus in my re-writes."
Keith Smith. St Etienne sur Usson, France. "Your
comments have given me much food for thought and I greatly appreciate
your encouragement and integrity. I thank you for what is, to me, the
best writing site on the net."
Patsy Miranda. London. "This is the best website I have found so far especially if you are an aspiring writer. The free writing tips are invaluable, the critiques are extremely helpful and certainly more than their money's worth, and free access to the winning stories is a bonus. Absolutely well worth a visit, or two or more!"
Warren Glover. Woollahra, Australia. "I've both placed and been unsuccessful in Writers' Village contests and each time I've found the feedback fair, justified and extremely useful. I'd recommend Writers' Village as both a motivational and learning tool."
Patricia Smith. Johannesburg, South Africa. "Your feedback highlighted the weaknesses of my piece with great accuracy and offered solutions to explore. Much appreciated!"
James Ward. East Sussex. "Out of the 66 writing competitions I've entered to date, yours is far and away the best organized, most competitor-friendly, and easily the best value for money."
Angela Johnson. Barcelona, Spain. "I treasure your valuable feedback and I'm glowing from some of the [grades you gave me]. I am sure I will enter a story again!"
Madeline Parsons. Southend-on-Sea, England. "I very much liked your marking system. It made me feel confident that the story had been judged against a set of criteria which had been applied to all the entries, and thus the competition was less subjective. I found your feedback to be just and insightful."
Laura Lindsay. Freeport, USA. "You cannot imagine how excited I was to receive good useful feedback from someone who knows the field. It was a gift, indeed."
Barbara Leahy. Cork, Ireland. "Competitions can be like black holes swallowing up stories so it is great to get feedback from someone who actually read and thought about my entries."
Joan Sonnenburg. Ontario, Canada. "Many thanks for your comments. These are more helpful than any cash award."
David Roberts. Westerham, England. "Your feedback was much appreciated and indeed well worth the entry fee. It's always good to know where exactly you fail in a competition otherwise it is almost impossible to improve oneself."
Charles Clennell. Gilberton, Australia.
"Thank you for your very constructive feedback to my two stories.
Failing to gain a prize was less important to me than receiving useful
feedback to help improve my writing skills."
Susan Hartnell-Beavis. Yeovil, England. "[I'd like to record] my thanks for the tremendous value your critiques have for me. Not only does it help us improve as writers, but it is also obvious, from the winners that you choose, that your standards are very high. That is why we can trust what you say."
Ken McBeath. Ontario, Canada. "A critique such as yours is worth as much as a prize or more - and very few competitions offer feedback without a hefty extra payment."
Maureen Gallagher. Galway, Ireland. "Yours is the most exciting competition I've entered. A real thrill to get your insightful comments!"
Helene Dolder. Newcastle upon Tyne, England. "It wasn't the taking part, it was the taking apart that most encouraged me! Your time to read, digest, regurgitate and comment was tremendous value for the entry fee."
Ann Leander. Klagenfurt, Austria. "Many thanks for your as usual, hugely enlightening [feedback] on my stories. Well worth the entry fee!"
Sharon Birch. Aberfeldy, Perthshire. "Feedback such as this is invaluable to me as a writer and very helpful when I come to edit and put them right. I shall enter your future competitions and spread the word amongst fellow writers. Your helpful tips emails are extremely informative and a welcome insight."
Joyce Mackenzie. Dundee, Scotland.
"I am delighted at the [feedback you gave me]. Its just as good as a
win for me. Your marking system is extremely good. It lets the writer
know where they have succeeded and where they have failed."
Hazel Martell. Keighley, West Yorkshire, England. "Thanks again for the kind comments - they really were appreciated! I'm also passing information about your competitions to various writing friends and hope they will also be encouraged to enter."
Alan Coley. Thames Ditton, England. "It was very good to receive your comments. It's so refreshing to receive constructive criticism rather than being left to stare at the short list and not be able to work out why my name wasn't on it. Many thanks."
Kim Kremer. Penrith, Cumbria. "Thanks for the feedback I received on my two stories. It was encouraging and helpful, and I'd definitely enter the competition again."
Debbie Allard. Spring Lake, Michigan.
“I love every part of your program. I’ve received invaluable tips. My
feedback was highly detailed and helped me improve my writing. Thank
Peter McGinniss. South Lanarkshire, England. "I found your comments to be very helpful, and illuminating in terms of what is being looked for in a short-story writing competition. I shall take the advice on board."
Nicola Young. Sevenoaks, Kent. "Thank you for your feedback. It was a great to help to me. It's just encouraging to know you're going in the right direction, especially as I'm new to this."
Lande Abudu. Eastcote, Middlesex. "I really needed to hear an independent view of ways to improve my writing. It was helpful to get feedback as I am only just venturing into the world of writing competitions; I'll keep at it and hope to be a winner some day soon."
Valerie Bowes. Surrey, England. "Thank you very much for your comments, which I did indeed find helpful. Of particular use is knowing how I scored on the points system which you use to make your judgements. And the writing tips are very good, as well!"
Gail Richards. London. "John treated my stories with respect from start to finish, understood the theme and the characters and made some incisive and pertinent suggestions for improvement. If this is terse feedback I'd love to see a full critique!"
Paul Barron. Co Wexford, Ireland. "I found John's feedback exceptionally good.The breakdown and marks system is particularly good in focusing attention on parts that are not working. Most competitions offer no feedback or charge a fee. For my part I can't see how you can improve unless you know where you went wrong. Thanks again, John, for the feedback."
Jason Heaver. Streatham, London. "Yours is the only competition I've found that gives any kind of feedback as part of the entry fee, rather than for an additional price, and it's greatly valued."
Doreen Stoneham. Oxford, England. "Your comments have helped me to identify points which appeared clear to me but not to the reader. I shall certainly be entering again. I have been recommending your site to my writing group. It’s the best I have found."
Evelyn Evans. Buckingham.
"Your comments are really helpful and I will certainly act on your
advice. This is the first time I have had the courage to share any of my
work and I feel enormously encouraged (if not amazed!) by your
response. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to read it so
Amy. High Wycombe, England.
"Your comments brought clarity to my doubts and renewed my interest in
those two stories, which is fantastic. I really feel it is possible to
make both those stories work now, whereas before I was unhelpfully
despondent/irritated with the outcome."
Winner summer 2012
Winner summer 2011
Winner summer 2010
(A Tip: you'll find a lot of social networks under the Red Cross.)