My historical short story, ‘Boudicca’s Revenge’, which was shortlisted for the Legendary Women Competition, has been published in this Essex Creative Writing Anthology. It was my first attempt at creative historical fiction and the short story, initially 2000 words, was reduced to just over 500 for the competition. If nothing else, it showed me how many words can be edited out and yet the story remain the same. Boudicca is now judged a heroine but she was a soldier and thought nothing of massacring whole towns. I don’t think her strength or actions would be considered quite so affectionately in the modern world.
My short story ‘Artifice’ was one of the three winning crime short stories published in ‘Bloody Hull,’ which was a book given out as part of the Hull Literary Festival. The competition ‘Dead Pretty City’, was for a short story of 2000 with the words ‘Dead Pretty’ included in it. Originally short-listed for the CWA Margery Allingham prize, I re-worked this story for the competition. As usual, my protagonist is not what she seems.
Mind the Gap by Sue Dawes was published in ‘New writing’ in Mslexia. The judge said: ‘Mind the Gap’ managed to say so much about the taboos surrounding the empty nest syndrome in little more than 1000 words. From the first sentence (I will pull the construction apart, twig by twig so they cannot return) I felt I was in the arms of a brave and confident artist. Each platitude and assumption about the bereft mother (‘you’ll be lonely, what will you do’ ‘But what if they want to come home’) is matched by the exhilaration of a mother liberated from the selflessness of raising three boys.
Mentioned in a study about motherhood
. A short story
The Yaqona Mattress, a short story by Sue Dawes was published in Island Review. Read it on-line here
Hal’s Ladder won the Mystery Women Crime Story competition in March 2011. The first sentence was provided: ‘Poor Hal. I knew him well – like a brother …’ The story had to be under 1000 words and crime. This was the first real monetary prize I won for a short story and it set me on the road I’m still walking. Find it here.
A ‘Drabble’ is a 100 word story, generally science fiction.
Like a Haiku, the best Drabbles have a twist at the end. The best way to approach writing a Drabble is to write a longer story, with the usual beginning, middle and end and pare it down (with a cleaver rather than a filleting knife). And finally, invest in (or bookmark) a thesaurus. It will help you to reduce your word count and yet allow you to say so much more.
This photo was taken of the short-listed authors of the Debut Dagger competition in 2013. The creative writing competition was for the first 3000 words of a crime novel. Sue Dawes is the last author on the right.