Sunday, 16 May 2010

Competitions Calling - Imagining Ideas - Sensational Storytelling

Wow has it really been 2 weeks since I last posted anything up here? Well all I can say is the word busy was greatly the cause of that but I can also happily say that it was also involved with writing and stories.
My first bit of news is my awakening to the wonderful and longforgotten and little practiced art of telling a good story the old fashioned way - orally. Not by reading a book though oh no, all from the mind, involving emotions and actions to help bring the story alive around us and not just in our imagination. My awakening to this was brought about by an amazing lady called Rachel Rose Reid - have you heard of her? She is a greatly talented and captivating woman whose voice can transport you as fast as Scotty could beam you up and can captivate you as much as Darren Brown can hypnotise you. She performed at the Peacock Lounge in Huddersfield as part of the many ongoing Huddersfield Literature Festival events which occur once a month until the big week each year.
I went along sadly by myself as boyfriend was busy doing lots of course work and my boss Terry had to be at home that night. But I still had a fantastic time catching up with my old tutors from Hudd Uni, in particular my favourite Michael Stewart who taught me all I know about short stories and writing fiction. I was quite suprised though when my old poetry tutor David Gill remembered me (considering I was rubbish at it) and proudly remarked on how often each week I came in with a new draft and new rewrite showing I took everything on board. Michael said that was a mark of a good writer *grin*. 
Anyway when Rachel came on stage everyone became silent and she introduced herself as someone who likes think 'we find parts of ourselves in all sorts of stories' and how she was going to tell stories from different lands and cultures. The first one was set in Africa I think and dealt with theme of overcoming obstacles and trusting yourself. It was really interactive this one as she encouraged us all to provide appropriate sound effects to scenes she described. The second story was set in Arabia, and about how the strength to success can appear in many forms. The third final story was set in Ancient Rome involving the Greek Gods Zeus, Hades and Persephone. All were amazingly told, each of her characters was well voiced and you could really feel the passion behind her words as she told them, using her arms and hands to add movement and flow to the tales. I was enchanted with the magic in her voice, the power in her words and the wonders of her stories - I was reliving the special moments created by a good story well told.
Yet Rachel wasn't the only one to tell stories that night at the Peacock Lounge, there was also an opportunity for students and members of the audience to tell their own pieces. I was one of those brave souls, stepping up onto the stage with a snipper from my novel 'Soul Chaser'. I won't lie and say I wasn't nervous - it's nearly a full year since I last voice my writing aloud before anyone and this was a small crowd. I had it all on a bit of paper and began with an introduction of myself and the ideas behind my story. I grew a bit more in confidence when at the mention of vikings and norse gods I got a cheer from within the crowd. I was only up there for no more than 2 minutes but I did my best to speak slowly, clearly, add drama and tension to this snippet of a tale and got a nice applause when I stepped down. The other performers didn't have to do much to out perform me and one guy was truly fantastic! Almost as good as Rachel as she too did all from the top of his head, voiced his characters well and made the audience join in.
Then to my shock Michael Stewart stood up and announced that David was going to pick the best 3 story tellers of the night - of course minus Rachel. So during the break I just calmed myself down, believing that there was no way I would even get third place yet.... I DID! Michael came on stage and called out my name, I went up trying not to go red with embarassement or go too shy either. David said although I didn't befriend the microphone well enough I told it well and got us all curious for more. I won a poetry book by someone I hadn't heard of before but I was just happy with the honour of 3rd place. My night got even better when I told Rachel how amazed I was with her talent and how fantasticly well she did it when I would be a nervous wreck - she then replied back that she wanted to know more about my story. What a compliment just from asking! So I quietly mentioned that I have it all on my blog at present and I follow her on Twitter (@RachelRoseReid) so I'll tweet her the link. I did the following day and few days later she tweeted back saying thanks. Don't know if she read anymore if yet but I hope she liked some of it. You can learn more about this funky lady and where she performs at her website .

My second time consuming activity is coming across some more good competitions and then trying to write something original for each one because of varying word count limits. I recently posted regarding the Waterstones Books Quarterly Short Story Competition ( but I've recently come across 2 more I would like to share with you:
Aesthetica Creative Works competition for Artwork, Photography, Fiction and Poetry - find out more details via and selecting the competition option there. £500 up for grabs plus publication in their annual Creative Works portfolio.
Rowan Coleman Short Story Competition - a short story contest special online writing course tuition from Rowan herself, a meeting with Rowan and director from Random House publishing, £100 to spend on any Random House published book and winning story displayed on Rowan's blog - for more details please visit .
Please do check out all three of these brilliant publication opportunities and good luck to all who enter!

I aim to do so myself but I thought, instead of entering my first chapter from 'Soul Chaser' titled 'The Old Ways Never Die' which is in fact a short story which inspired the growing novel, to try and write something fresh and new.

I still find myself writing about Valkyries though (still want to get their unheard voices out to the world) but in a different setting and location. My recent new short story idea involves a Valkyrie on her coffee break being rudely brought into the After Life when a guy commits suicide from the viaduct train line that runs above her favourite bakery. That part I've written fine so far (more editing and rewriting intended) but I still can't make up my mind about how it should end. I don't want the ending to be too weak, I want it to pack enough punch to stick in the judges minds and leave them thinking about it. Thing is what is right and what is wrong. Currently I am considering two possible alternative endings - here's the plot so far from Kate's morning intruprtion by death - the lost soul of the man follows Kate (the Valkyrie) out of fear in the devestation of the AfterLife, gets hunted by a Demon in the guise of his wife, now here are the alterantvie scenarios leading to end of story:

A) Kate fights on behalf of Simon (lost dead man's soul) as he must be judged (by whatever soul guardian is assigned to him) before being tossed to the evil demons, the fight is brutal, Kate struggles against the demons power, Simon meanwhile isn't sure what to do and then finally throws himself in harms way just before Kate looses, his soul is vapourised into dust and demon walks away smugly. Kate collects dust in bag and walks with it through the rainbow wall to Asgard whispering 'welcome to the next life' as she leaves that realm. Hopefully leaving reader thinking that in Asgard she can reincarnate Simon and he can live happily ever after as reward for his bravery.
B) Kate fights on behalf of Simon, struggles against demon, seeing she can not totally over come Demon and that Simon must escape she tells him to run through the rainbow wall, even though she forbid him not to earleir, Simon runs through in fear for Kate's safety and comes round to find himself in a hospital with two badly broken legs and the wife he has meant to have beaten (according to Demon but it was a one off event for Simon) by his side glad he's alive and willing to forgive and forget. Wife leaves to get a drink and Kate arrives in guise of a doctor and informs Simon this new life is a lucky mistake and of course the old motto not to waste it.

If you any ideas or thoughts on these two alterantive endings I would greatly appreciate any feedback given so I can make my mind up about which is more suitable and would impress the judges in the competition I send the finished stort off to. So to get you thinking why not tell me which ending you prefer?

1 comment:

  1. I already told u but for whatever it's good for, I thought I'd say it again on here. For me version A) seems to be working better. It also seems to be conveying a little bit more closure for a short story whereas version B)has the feel of being more of an episode than a story, at least to me ;)

    Good luck with the competitions and thanks for letting us know. I'll have a look at when they end and see whether I wanna submit something myself as well :)


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