James Jones $10,000 Fellowship Contest for First-time Fiction Novelists: Entries Close 15 March

The James Jones Fellowship Contest is now in its 24th year. It awards $10,000 to an American writer with a first fiction novel in progress in 2015. Two runners-up will each receive $1000.

Entrants are asked to supply a two-page outline of their entire novel, plus the first 50 pages of the work. The outline maybe a chapter outline or brief synopsis of the novel. If a manuscript is selected for the final round of judging, the author will be asked to send another copy of the originally submitted first 50 pages plus pages 51 to 75.

The fellowship is only for unpublished first novels: collections of short stories, memoirs and self-published novels are not eligible. To enter this contest, writers must be United States citizens.

An entry fee of $30 is payable and writers can choose to enter either online or via mail.

Continue Reading…

Hannah Kent’s Rules for Writing

Photograph by Nicholas Purcell

Hannah Kent’s debut novel Burial Rites has been translated into twenty languages. It won the inaugural Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award and was shortlisted for Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
In May 2014, Hannah was a guest of the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne and appeared as part of a panel called ‘The 5 x 5 Rules of Writing’, where she and four other EWF ambassadors (Benjamin Law, Krissy Kneen, Maxine Beneba Clarke and Felix Nobis) shared the writing advice they wish we had known when they started out. We are delighted that Hannah has allowed us to reproduce this advice here.
Hannah introduced these rules by saying “These are five things I continually need to be reminded of, and they never fail to help me remember how and why I write.”

Rule 1. Read

This is perhaps the simplest, most worthwhile piece of advice I can give any of you today, and this is why it’s the first of my five.

Read.

To be a good writer you must, first and foremost, be a good reader. How else will you learn what to do? Read as much as possible, as often as possible, and if you read something you like, or something that makes you laugh, or something that moves you in a strange, ineffable way, ask why. Re-read it. Read it aloud. Pay attention to the use of words, and the narrative voice, and the comic timing. If you don’t understand words, splurge on a really great dictionary and look those words up. The more words you know, the greater your control over language.

Read everything. How else will you work out what is good and what is bad? Give your time to Thomas Hardy, Dostoevsky, Doris Lessing and Dickens, but also read debut novels, genre fiction, contemporary fiction, history books, plays, TV scripts, poetry and memoirs. If you can’t afford new books, buy second-hand books. If you can’t afford second-hand books, get a library card. Get a library card anyway.

I’ve always loved reading, but I don’t think I ever understood how crucial it is to bettering writing practice until now. If I’m writing and I find myself in need of inspiration, or renewed focus, I will always go and read. Nine times out of ten I return to my work refreshed and exhilarated.
Continue Reading…

Applications Now Open for the $35,000 Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2015

Recent movies by Nicholl Fellows

Applications for the prestigious and lucrative Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting are now open for 2015.

This international screenwriting competition awards up to five fellowships of US$35,000 each year. Since 1986, 137 fellowships totaling $3,740,000 have been awarded.

Who Can Enter
The competition is open to writers based anywhere in the world, regardless of citizenship. All entrants must be aged over 18. Entry scripts must be the original work of one writer, or of two writers who collaborated equally, and must be written originally in English. Translated scripts are not eligible.

The fellowships are intended for new and/or amateur screenwriters. In order to be eligible, an entrant’s total earnings for motion picture and television writing may not exceed US$25,000 before the end of the competition.

It is a requirement that all fellowship winners complete at least one new feature screenplay in the year of their fellowship (the Academy acquires no rights to the work and will not participate in its marketing or in any other aspects of its commercial future).

The Prizes
Up to five $35,000 fellowships are awarded each year to promising new screenwriters.

In addition to the cash prize, winners of the Nicholl Fellowships will be invited to participate in awards week ceremonies and seminars in November. The successful applications are also expected to receive many networking opportunities to help complete their next script.

Continue Reading…

Competitions for Writers in February and March 2015

Competitions from around the world for both established and emerging writers.

Please check the relevant websites for all terms and conditions and be aware that entry fees are payable in many cases. 

Homestart Bridgwater Short Story Prize
is being run in aid of an independent registered charity offering support to families facing difficulties The prize is open to stories up to 2200 words and will be judged by Tracy Chevalier, best known for the international best-seller Girl with a Pearl Earring. Entries close 1 February.

Malahat Review Long Poem Prize
is open to writers from all countries. Entries must consist of either single poem or cycle of poems between 10 to 20 pages long. Two prizes of CA$1000 will be awarded. Entries close 1 February.

Sycamore Review’s Flashcard Flash Fiction Contest
is for pieces up to 500 words. First prize is US$100, publication online, and publication on a Flashcard that will be distributed with Sycamore Review. Entries close 1 February.

Myriad’s First Drafts Competition
is open to all writers who have not yet published or self-published a collection of stories or a novel. Submissions should comprise a one-page synopsis and up to 5000 words of a work-in-progress (novel or short story collection). The prize is a week-long writing retreat at West Dean College near Chichester, detailed editorial feedback from industry experts plus six months’ mentoring from a Myriad author. Entries close 2 February.

SLS-Disquiet Literary Contest
is sponsored by Guernica, Fence Magazine, Ninth Letter, and the esteemed Graywolf Press. The winners receive tuition, airfares, and accommodations for  the Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal. Entries close 10 February.

Griffith University’s Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize
is one of Australia’s richest short stories prizes. First prize is AUD$10,000 and second prize is $5000. Stories may be up to 2000 words. Griffith University also offers a poetry prize with equal prize money. Entrants must be Australian citizens or residents and entries close 13 February.
Continue Reading…

Brown Foundation Fellows Program in France: Applications Close 15 February

The Brown Foundation Fellows Program is offered by The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. It offers residencies to mid-career professionals in the arts and humanities, including writers. The residencies last between one and three months and take place at The Dora Maar House in Ménerbes, France.

The Dora Maar House
The property was purchased in 1944 by Pablo Picasso for Dora Maar, his companion and muse. It is located in the beautiful walled village of Ménerbes in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of south-eastern France. The population is approximately 1,100. Many readers may be familiar with Ménerbes through the work of British writer Peter Mayle. Mayle’s autobiographical A Year in Provence documents his move to a 200-year-old stone farmhouse in the village.

Facilities at the Dora Maar House include four private bedrooms with ensuites, and three studies for writers and scholars. There is a large communal kitchen, living space, dining room and library, as well as two garden areas. Wi-fi access is available, as is a printer. The Dora Maar House is a non-smoking environment.

Who Can Apply
The Brown Foundation Fellows Program is open to writers, scholars and other artists. Candidates are expected to have an established career in their field, with the fellowship providing them with time to concentrate on their area of expertise. Continue Reading…

Polish Your Prose: An Editorial Cheat Sheet

A guest post by literary agent Nephele Tempest.

No matter your resolutions for the year, regardless where you stand with your current writing project, the time will come when you need to edit. I don’t mean rework your plot, heighten dramatic tension, or beef up your protagonist’s motivations. Rather I’m referring to that nitty gritty editorial process of looking at your work word by word, sentence by sentence, and examining the language you’ve used. Do your descriptions dance on the page? Have any clichés snuck into the mix? If you had to read aloud in front of an audience, would you find yourself running out of breath?

Sentence-level editing involves more than checking for missing words or making sure your Find-and-Replace changed a character’s name all the way through your manuscript. This is your chance to shape up your prose and show your skills, not just as a storyteller but as a wordsmith. But a manuscript can be a fairly long document, and sometimes it’s hard to remember everything you want to check as you work your way through from first page to last.

Here’s a handy cheat sheet of things you might want to keep in mind while editing:

  1. Cut your adverbs and make your verbs stronger.
  2. Rework any clichés.
  3. Eliminate filler words and phrases, such as “currently”, “that”, and “in order to.”
  4. Refer to people as “who” not “that.”
  5. Cut repetitious words and/or phrases.
  6. Divide long, hard-to-read sentences into two or more shorter sentences.
  7. Fix any inadvertent double negatives in long, complex sentences.
  8. Hyphenate modifying words.
  9. Minimize use of “very” and “really.”
  10. Beware of overusing passive voice/passive verb structures (is/was/-ing verbs).
  11. Double check the definitions of any words you’re not 100% sure you know.
  12. Determine and weed out any words, actions, or punctuation that you personally overuse as filler, such as characters smiling or taking deep breaths, ellipses in the middle or end of dialogue, exclamation points, etc.
  13. Replace general words with specific ones, such as “thing(s)” or “stuff.”
  14. Cut unnecessary chit-chat from dialogue; limit conversations to substance that moves your story forward.
  15. Limit distinctive dialogue quirks or movements to a single character; don’t give “signature” details to more than one person unless there’s a reason (child emulating a parent or older sibling, etc.).

Continue Reading…

Publication Opportunities for Writers: February and March 2015

Over 60 publication opportunities for both established and emerging writers.

Please check the relevant websites for all terms and conditions. 

Londonist
is seeking stories by children and stories for children. Submissions should be strongly linked to London (either set in London or heavily inspired by the city) and can have any theme (like sci-fi or historical) or none at all. There are no strict guidelines on story length; entries might be only a few sentences or could be as long as 1500 words.

CutBank
is a literary magazine founded in 1973 by the creative writing program at the University of Montana. It publishes two issues per year featuring  fiction, poetry and literary non-fiction by established writers and new voices alike. Submissions close on 1 February.

Overland
is seeking fiction from new and emerging writers for a special online edition to be curated by Khalid Warsame. For this special edition, ‘new and emerging’ describes a writer who has not yet published a book of stories or novel with commercial distribution. Closes 1 February.

Bellevue Literary Review
is seeking submissions of previously unpublished fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for an upcoming special issue on war and military experience. Submission close on 1 February.

Berkeley Poetry Review
is accepting submissions for its 45th issue. The editors have a particular interested in work that complicates prevailing conceptions of race, gender, sexuality, ecology, and poetic form itself. The deadline is 1 February.

Lunch Ticket
is a biannual journal published by the MFA community of Antioch University of Los Angeles. Submissions of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, writing for young people and visual art for its Summer/Fall 2015 issue open on 1 February.

Southampton Review
is dedicated to “discovering new voices and visions while savoring long-standing favorites”. Some of the established writers it has published include Billy Collins, Meg Wolitzer, Frank McCourt and David Rakoff. Submissions reopen on 1 February.

Buffalo Almanack
is an online quarterly journal of fiction, photography and literary criticism. It welcomes submissions for new and established writers. New issues are released quarterly and submissions reopen on 1 February. Continue Reading…