Short Story Competition Advice by Iain Pattison

Iain Pattison, who gave me a lot of comedy/editing advice on Martini Bond, has some helpful tips for anyone entering writing competitions this summer…

Sally Jenkins

Iain Pattison is a successful short story writer, frequent competition judge and a writing tutor.Iain Pattison

He has kindly agreed to share some of his wisdom with us today. He is pleading for more humour and less heartbreak in your competition entries:

You know, sometimes I think judging short story competitions should come with a health warning. Not that it’s dangerous – well, not if you can run fast enough from those who haven’t won – but more because of the awful things it can do to your state of mind.

It’s always the same. Each time a big envelope of entries drops through my letter box I grin insanely knowing I’m in for a reading feast. But then, moments later, I remember that  95% of them will be stories of angst, despair, betrayal, abuse, regret, anger and disappointment and I gulp and wonder if my poor ragged nerves will stand…

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July 4, 2013. Uncategorized.


  1. Julia replied:

    Thanks. I’ve been scratching my head over why 99% of published short stories so often are black pits of despair. Duh! Because that’s what people submit! I’m no comedian, but it’s a relief to know that fun in a story doesn’t mean it’s going to be deep-sixed for lack of seriousness.

  2. Sally Jenkins replied:

    Thanks for the re-blog! Iain does seem to have the knack of making things funny in a natural, unforced and non-slapstick way – I would expect he was a very good advisor for Martini Bond.

  3. colonialist replied:

    As I commented there:
    That is vastly encouraging to me. I have always despaired that my lighthearted style puts me right out of the running on such competitions. I like providing a twist – but it tends (oh, horrors!) to lead to a happy ending. Add some of the wordplay I love, and it equals that my chances of a minus are multiplied exponentially!

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