Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bridport Prize 2008

Fancy your chances much?

The Bridport Prize has been running now for 30+ years, with many thousands of entrants and two competitions open every year - the poetry and the short story prizes.

Obviously, I'm not one for the poetry. I'd be worse than old McGonagall. So, this year, for the first time in my amateur writing career (career? Ha!) I've entered two short stories - both of which I had critiqued and used on my NAW writing course last year.

In both cases my choices had confused the readers (when hasn't that happened?) and the pieces of work were a chronological nightmare - In the development of the first piece (the largest of the two - 5,000 words - and my entry for the Fiction module) had already undergone a vast change to its theme and subject matter. No longer the opening to a novel it had to change direction, background, and I performed a massive feat of shifting the time in which it takes place, back 55 years (yep, a major shift).

For the Bridport entry I had another mammoth task to carry out. Namely the resetting of the flashbacks. I had relied heavily on these and the story was still somewhat confusing since I had two moments in cars - which was happening when? It didn't matter that the tenses were different. So, I reset the order and had everything run smoothly from beginning to end, changing tense only for the last section. This meant, of course, revising certain elements of narrative development, but that is expected.

The second piece required far less work. Having already worked on it with Jim Crace during the Prose Stripping session at NAW, the biggest heft of the work was, again, the redesign of the narrative and the resetting of the time shifts - I'd confused the readers with my flashbacks (all of which were set within a boat) and which I washed back to time and again as my mind felt compelled.

There were minor necessary changes - namely my over use of sea and fishing terminology (still all largely present but altered for appropriateness and pov) - but nothing on the par with the first. It is a much smaller, easier read. Very light weight in fact (for me) at 1,600 words.

Here's hoping I at least place somewhere - though I find that doubtful. Yes, we can all hope. But I won't hold my breath. Lots more things to be getting on with.

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