Writing Challenge – March 2017

We’ve spent enough time telling you about Lockerbie Writers – now, we want to open this blog and our Facebook page up to creative writers around the world!

Writing prompts come in all shapes and sizes, from photographs and old documents through to lists of seemingly unconnected words. This month, we’ll provide the prompt and we want you to provide the story in less than 100 words. The best ones will be published here on our blog. Entry details and terms are at the bottom of this page. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Friday 31st March 2017.

There’s only one question – are you up to the challenge?


Writing Challenge – March 2017

Challenge: Write a story which is inspired by this photograph of a rainbow over a motorway.

27-03-16 04 Rainbow on the way up to Glasgow.JPG

Entry Details and Terms

  • To enter, simply add your entry as a comment on this post, or send it in a private message to our Facebook Page (Lockerbie Writers – www.facebook.com/groups/lockerbiewriters). Entries will be accepted until midnight, Friday 31st March 2017.
  • The challenge is open to everyone, including members of Lockerbie Writers.
  • Entries should be fictional, maximum 100 words, based on the prompt. You can enter as many times as you like. All entries must be the entrant’s original work, must not infringe on the rights of any other parties, and should not contain anything which might be considered offensive.
  • By entering, you agree to allow Lockerbie Writers to publish your entry on this blog and on their Facebook page. You will retain the copyright to your work.
  • All entries will be read by at least one member of Lockerbie Writers group, who will decide which entries to publish here/on Facebook. Entries will be judged on criteria such as originality, plot, and enjoyment.
  • If you have any questions, please get in touch!


Writers Whom We Admire

At today’s meeting, Lockerbie Writers members were invited to talk about a writer whom they admired and to read a short segment of their work. Well, talk about variety! We had everything from a local detective, to tales of post-war Russia, to Beatles’ lyrics!

Here is a list of the writers which each member chose, and the book from which they chose to read an extract:
  • Vasily Grossman, ‘Life and Fate’ (Post-WW2 Russia, a serious and poignant choice to start us off)
  • RR Gall, ‘The Case of the Pig in the Evening Suit’ (Dumfries Detective Series Book 1, lovely to have a local author on our list)
  • Roald Dahl, “The Three Little Pigs” from ‘Revolting Rhymes’ (Chosen due to Dahl’s imaginative use of language, strong morals, and dark but humorous themes)
  • Iris Murdoch, ‘The Sea, The Sea’ (An atmospheric choice, and one which several of the group had already read and enjoyed)
  • Paul McCartney/The Beatles, ‘Blackbird’ (A song with poetic and deep lyrics, another interesting choice which added more variety – and we just about avoided a group singsong!)
  • Keith Stuart, ‘A Boy Made of Bricks’ (My choice – and unlike the rest of the group, I chose it because I am struggling to like this author’s writing style! For me it was an interesting exercise to consider why the writing style didn’t suit me as a reader)
  • Catherine Cookson, ‘The Bonnie Dawn’ (Chris papered over the cover so we didn’t know the author until after she’d read the extract, but she was right to as we all enjoyed the moving segment but many admitted we would have been more judgemental if we’d known the author first)
  • Ernest Hemingway, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ (Another atmospheric choice to finish off on, almost simplistic in language but full of meaningful and gripping description)
Afterwards, the group discussed the similarities between the pieces chosen. One thing we agreed on was that most of the pieces could be described as simplistic to some extent, in the way that the author had the confidence to write with excess words or drama, focusing on choosing exactly the right words to create atmosphere. Not a word could be spared – surely the sign of a fantastic writer, and of course editor too.
I hope you have found this useful and that you might be inspired to pick up one of these texts. If you’d like to add your own suggestion to our list, just comment below or send us a message on our Facebook page – we’d love to hear from you!
Anthologies on shelf 13-04-16 LOW RES

Devilish Good Work! By Steph Newham

This month’s guest blogger is Steph Newham, the chair of Lockerbie Writers, and a lover of short stories and historical fiction. Here, Steph shares her thoughts on editing short stories …

I’ve spent the last two months editing a bunch of short stories that had been languishing in a finished folder. Deep down I knew they weren’t truly finished because the devil on my shoulder whispered, ‘the mark of a good short story comes with serious editing.’ I really liked this bunch of stories but I knew I could make them better. So I knuckled down and stripped out all those word repeats, the tags, the clunks, the excess adjectives. I wanted to make them sizzle; shorter, tighter, more compelling. That was my intention…

Time for the next draft …

All writing is a skill to be learnt. We writers can hone our craft, spend many solitary hours elevating it to an art form. Some hope, you think as you grapple with yet another clunky sentence that has escaped earlier edits. Just accept that it takes time to master the techniques. Keep at it.

Now I’ve honed my stories, I’m reasonably satisfied, but I’m still not finished. I have to re-read them with two questions in mind:

  1. Where does the the story really start? Have I started too far back, am I still trying to introduce stuff that could be dropped in as back story at suitable points within the piece? And
  2. Is the story complex enough, does it emulate real life? Are lots of things going on at the same time?

This winter has been a conscious process of writing, editing and re-writing. After all the hard work I hope I’m finally achieving the ability to spin a good story.

By Steph Newham, February 2017

Would you be interested in becoming a guest blogger for Lockerbie Writers? Get in touch now with your ideas!

About the Writer

Steph Newham took up writing when she retired from the NHS. She did a Cert in Creative Writing followed by an MA at Lancaster University. She is currently working on a collection of Short Stories as well as a historical novel.  She is chairperson of Lockerbie Writers and a member of Powfoot Writers. She has had articles published in newspapers and short stories in an anthology and on-line e-zines. She enjoys running workshops and encouraging others to develop their writing skills.