“Short stories are where a lot of writers start, and short story competitions are enormously valuable to an emerging writer.
You’ll find out what competition judges and journal editors look for in a short story and how to avoid the rejection pile. In a form where every word counts, get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action.
You’ll also look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.
Paul McVeigh is co-founder of London Short Story Festival and Associate Director at Word Factory. He’s been a reader and judge for national and international literary competitions and prizes. He had also edited four anthologies and reviews for the Irish Times and the TLS.”
“In the rush for publication, writing for radio is often forgotten, and the irony is that radio is probably the largest commissioner of short stories in the UK and Ireland. Put BBC Radio 4 Short Story in your search bar and you will find a treasure trove of recordings read by our greatest performers.”
Celebrating the Short Story with Wendy Erskine & Bernie McGill
in conversation with …Paul McVeigh
Wednesday 27th July at 1.30pm Market Theatre, Armagh.
Wendy Erskine’s first collection, Sweet Home, (2018) was shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and the Republic of Consciousness Prize, and won the 2020 Butler Literary Award. In her new collection, Dance Move, we meet characters who are looking to wrest control of their lives, only to find themselves defined by moments in their past. In these stories – as in real life – the funny, the tender and the devastating go hand in hand.
“Truly magnificent. These stories buzz with life and verve and humour. A collection that reminds us how glorious the short story can be.” Danielle McLaughlin
Bernie McGill has written two novels, The Butterfly Cabinet and The Watch House, which was shortlisted for the 2019 Irish/European Union Prize for Literature, a collection of short stories, Sleepwalkers, and two plays, The Weather Watchers, and The Haunting of Helena Blunden. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for numerous awards and is anthologised widely. Her latest collection of short stories is This Train is For, published by No Alibis, June 2022.
“[Bernie] McGill writes about life, love and telegraphy with a poet’s clarity.” The Sunday Times
What a day talking to these intelligent students discussing some of my short stories at Talen KU Leuven KulakKU Leuven Kulak that the hour and a half class turned into two and a half hours – with two students following us to the front door with even more questions.
You can check out the website here and ticket link below.
‘Paul will share what first readers, editors and judges look for in a short story and discuss how to get your story published.
Paul will discuss how to get your story onto that shortlist and how to avoid the rejection pile. Paul will take you behind the scenes of anthologies, competitions and journals, explaining the psychology of the decision-making process and the importance of ‘That Killer First Page’. He will highlight the essential ingredients to create that crucial story opening. In a form and genre where every word counts, you will get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action; you will also get clues on when to stop. You will write an opening and get feedback on that. You will look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.
Paul McVeigh’s short stories have been read on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5 and performed on Sky Arts TV. They have also appeared in many publications including Faber’s ‘Being Various: New Irish Short Stories’, ‘The Art of the Glimpse’, The Irish Times, The London Magazine and The Stinging Fly. ‘Hollow’ was shortlisted for Irish Short Story of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2017 and he was longlisted in 2021.’
His debut novel ‘The Good Son’ won The Polari First Novel Prize and his work has been translated into seven languages. He reviews for The Irish Times and the TLS.
Paul has edited the Southword Journal, the ‘Belfast Stories’ anthology from Doire Press (2019) and is the editor of ‘Queer Love’ and ‘The 32′, which includes new work from Roddy Doyle, Kevin Barry and Danielle McLaughlin.
He is associate director of Word Factory ‘the UK’s national organisation for excellence in the short story The Guardian and is co-founder and Director of the London Short Story Festival. Paul has judged many international literary competitions including The Dylan Thomas Prize, The Edge Hill Short Story Prize, The Sean O’Faolin Short Story Prize and currently the V. S. Pritchard Prize for the Royal Society of Literature. He is presently head of Literature for the Arts Council of NI.
This workshop has sold out in Adelaide, Armagh, Bath, Belfast, Brighton, Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kuala Lumpur, Lancaster, Listowel, London, Melbourne, Salisbury, Singapore, Ubud and West Cork.’
Lucy Caldwell is the author of two short story collections, several stage plays and radio dramas, and four novels, including the forthcoming These Days (Faber, March 2022). She is also the editor of Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber, 2019). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a former Fellow of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast, awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her most recent collection Intimacies was described by Kevin Barry as “A tremendous collection. Precise and beautifully controlled fictions but with strange, wild energies pulsing along just below their surface,” and by Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee as “Heart-stoppingly good.” She was named by the Sunday Times as “one of Ireland’s most essential writers.”
Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast. Her first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears, was published in 2014 to critical acclaim, followed by a short-story collection, Children’s Children(2016), and two flash fiction anthologies, Postcard Stories (2017) and Postcard Stories 2 (2020). Her second novel, The Fire Starters (2019), won the EU Prize for Literature and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Novel of the Year Award. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She has won the Harper’s Bazaar short-story competition and has been shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award and the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize. She specializes in running arts projects and events with older people, especially those living with dementia.
Paul McVeigh‘s debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award and was shortlisted for many others including the Prix du Roman Cezam in France. His short stories have been read on BBC Radio 3, 4 & 5 and on Sky Arts. They have appeared in print in journals such as The Stinging Fly, and numerous anthologies including Faber’s Being Various: New Irish Short Stories and The Art of the Glimpse. He is associate director of Word Factory, ‘the UK’s national organisation for excellence in the short story’ (The Guardian), and he co-founded the London Short Story Festival. He was co-editor of the Belfast Storiesanthology and was fiction editor at Southword Journal. He edited The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working Class Writers, which includes new work by Kevin Barry, Roddy Doyle and Lisa McInerney.
Join us for a jam-packed programme of events and classes on writing and publishing short stories.
Taking place on Zoom and hosted by Dahlia Books’ founder Farhana Shaikh, our Short Story September Festival is the ultimate retreat for anyone looking to master writing short stories. All attendees will be sent recordings and a copy of the chat following the event. Recordings will be available to playback for up to 90 days.
FESTIVAL PROGRAMME (subject to change)
Saturday 25th September
10.30 AM Registration & Warm-up workshop
In this warm-up workshop, we will begin to think about using our own life as a springboard for generating new ideas for fiction. Through a series of writing games and prompts we will begin to write fragments and set them free in our shared online writing journal.
11.00 – Morning Keynote with Paul McVeigh
Paul’s debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award, and was shortlisted for many others including The Prix du Roman Cezam. Paul began his writing career as a playwright and comedy writer. His short stories have been in numerous anthologies, journals and newspapers, as well as, on BBC Radio 3,4 & 5, and Sky Arts. He co-founded the London Short Story Festival and is associate director of Word Factory, London; ‘the UK’s national organisation for excellence in the short story’ The Guardian. He co-edited the anthology Belfast Stories, and edited Queer Love & The 32: An Anthology of Irish Working Class Voices. He has judged numerous literary prizes, including The Edge Hill Short Story Prize, The Dylan Thomas Prize and, currently The V. S. Pritchett Short Story Prize for the Royal Society of Literature. He is writing has been translated into seven languages.
11.30 – 12 PM Breakout groups
12 PM – Publishing your Short Story Collection with Reshma Ruia and Mona Dash
How can short story writers develop their writing skills and how do they navigate the publication journey? In this session, Dahlia Books 2021 authors Reshma Ruia and Mona Dash share their experiences of writing their first collection, finding their voice, and getting published. This event will be pre-recorded.
12.15 – 1.15 PM Lunch
1.30 – 2.45 PM A Brief Pause Showcase: Developing your practice
Earlier this year, twenty writers from across the UK were selected to take part in our short story development programme, A Brief Pause. In this showcase event, writers will share their work and discuss how the scheme has helped them to take the next step in their career.
3 – 5 PM Writing Workshop with Kathy Fish
Embracing Your Inner Wild: Creating Untamed Flash Fiction
Creative breakthroughs occur when we stretch our writerly muscles. This session is aimed at working outside your comfort zone to more vibrant, risk-taking writing. What happens when we unbind ourselves from the constraints of tame, domesticated realism and let our imaginations run wild? We will explore playfulness of language and structure as well as trying our hands at writing flash of a more surrealistic bent. Come ready to write and expect to surprise yourself!
Kathy Fish has published five collections of short fiction, most recently Wild Life: Collected Works from 2003-2018. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Copper Nickel, Washington Square Review, and numerous other journals, textbooks, and anthologies. Fish’s “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild,” was selected for Best American Nonrequired Reading 2018 and the current edition of The Norton Reader. She is the recipient of a Ragdale Foundation Fellowship and a Copper Nickel Editors’ Prize. Her free monthly newsletter, The Art of Flash Fiction, includes a craft article and writing prompt. Subscribe at artofflashfiction.com
5 – 5.15 PM – virtual tea break with chai and brownies
5.30 – 6.30 PM – Leicester Writes Short Story Prize Ceremony
The Leicester Writes Short Story Prize was set up in 2017 to recognise and reward the best short story writing talent. Join us to celebrate this year’s fantastic long-listed writers and listen to the short stories that made it to our top 20 from more than 310 entries! Our prize anthology featuring all 20 short stories will be launched on the day. Readers on the night tba.
Bursaries are available for writers on a low income*
Please email Farhana at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply for a bursary place demonstrating your commitment to your creative practice and a brief statement on your current circumstances. Please email by 10th September at the latest.