#shortstories are a particular form, good ones are not practice for writing a novel. Don’t send the first chapter of your novel (or a bit from the middle) into a comp as a #shortstory. We can spot it a mile off.
Write! Practice makes perfect. Find other writers that you trust and workshop the hell out of it. Set deadlines. Meet regularly. Have enough awareness to know you don’t have to do everything they suggest but if 2 people point out a problem – it’s definitely a problem.
When you send your story into the wild, make a note of it but then forget about it. Don’t check mailbox every hour. Everyone who sends something to @BridportPrize or @GrantaMag thinks they will be successful. The odds are against you. A shortlisting is pretty amazing.
Winning a prize is usually down to luck. Just write the best story you can. Even with a great plot, dialogue, characters, descriptions winning is down to the personal preferences of the judges/editors.
Build an online presence as soon as you begin your career. Be active on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram. Interact with the community. It’s where you’ll meet people going through the same as you are and where you’ll get submission news.
Talking of editing, as you become more successful you will be professionally edited – get used to it. An editor just wants to make your work the best it can be. The first time your work comes back with mark-ups it can be a shock but it’s not personal, it’s a negotiation.
Read your work aloud. It is probably the best way to edit. Then read aloud at events. It’s scary but you connect with readers and increase your visibility and confidence. @rattletales is looking for subs to @brightonfringe now! www.rattletales.org