Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Posts Tagged ‘competitions

Priorities and Progress, 2017-18, #amwriting

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In January 2017, I came up with a list of writing tasks to be completed during the following 12-months. These were reviewed in February, April and June 2017 with mixed progress having been made. A little over 12-months since I wrote my original list of jobs seems a good time for yet another review, as well as to make commitments for the coming months.


Task, in rough order of priority, as priorities change.

Ease of completion: *easy to ***hard

Time commitment required: ^a little to ^^^a lot

Progress and Plans  February 2018.


1. Keep up with blog.

* Easy if I have something to say/ report.

^ Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say.

Posting has been sporadic dependent upon work commitments. Regular writing updates in the first half of 2017 petered out towards the end of the year and were replaced by me concentrating on Project 10K, a monthly commitment to write and or edit 10000-words, or undertake other goals as self-defined. I concentrated on the micro instead of macro in terms of time frame.

In 2018 I will post monthly as part of Project 10K.



2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.

* Easy.

^^ A large time commitment for revisions/ editing and sending to agents.


I sent the manuscript to 8 agents and received a ‘near miss’ from one. Is sent to another 10 and was invited to pitch my novel to 1. This agent suggested changes, which I have recently re-submitted. The end of the manuscript needs re-reading through.

In 2018, I will continue to submit my revised manuscript if the current agent considering it rejects it.



3. Write 100-word Friday Fictioneer stories.

* Easy to do if have nothing else on and come up with a story.

^^ Requires time and concentration to perfect. Takes time to read and comment on other stories and be part of the community.

Mostly met.

I have responded to most prompts and gained some encouraging feedback on my stories.I don’t participate unless I have time to read others’ stories and sometimes the photos cause no neurones to fire in my head.

In 2018, I will continue to participate as inspiration and time allow.



4. Revise and edit my NaNoWriMo stories from 2014 and 2017. Work up 51k words into a novel.

** Medium.

^^^ Big time commitment. Hopefully enjoyable to do.

I began to edit NaNoWriMo2014 at the end of summer 2017 and made progress until November when I participated in NaNoWriMo2017.

In 2018 I hope to be able to edit both these works into full-length second drafts.



5. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

* Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas. Enjoyable.

^^ Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.


Jan and I talked about this project briefly recently – Jan hasn’t painted a picture but has ideas. I am in the same position as before regarding progress: 1 story finished; 2 needing tough editing; 1 just started.

In 2018, I will get my stories finished, send them to Jan and then nag her to paint.



6. Write short stories for competitions.

*** Quite hard writing to order.

^^ Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.

I came runner-up for an entry in March ‘17 so thought I’d made it. Subsequent submissions through the year yielded nothing.

In 2018, I will continue to look for short story competitions, but not concentrate on them to the detriment of other commitments.



7. Self-publish flashes and short stories.

*** An organisational project and learning experience, e.g. about self-publishing platforms. Takes less brainpower than writing.

^^ Time-consuming but can be dipped in and out of.

No progress since June 2017.Stories are collated. Page layout needs to be completed. Cover design needs completing.Self-publishing platforms to be researched.

In 2018, I will get this published… and pigs might fly. Colleagues in the Windsor Writers’ Group are self-published and are there to call on when I’m ready.



8. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.

*** Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new to me.

^^ Large time commitment and learning new skill.

Schedule in for 2020?


9. Continue with novel-length abuse-survivor story started 2014.

* Easy to write – the story is in my head.

^^ Need time and space to pick this up again.

This will happen only when I’ve completed all of the above… so maybe never.





Written by Sarah Ann

February 27, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Insomnia wins for a change

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I have written many a story whilst lying awake trying to go to sleep. Worry about what has to be done tomorrow is usually the main culprit for keeping my mind ticking over. The more I try to get to sleep (breathing exercises, stretches, day-dreaming) the less it seems to come, and the riveting tales I concoct have disappeared by morning. But last week I resurrected a short story I wrote many moons ago. The story is the same (about a woman finding her lost family following her father’s death), the setting is the same, the sentiment is the same, but the approach is different. Instead of writing in the present, I have her looking back. Lying in bed, as I held on to the new structure of the story, I rehearsed the lines over and over (and over) so I would remember them in the morning. I didn’t sketch the whole thing, but had three or four scenes etched into my brain before sleep finally overtook me. Come morning I was able to get most of them written down. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something vital, but hope that will come back to me as I fill in the wall of the story around the bricks I have already laid.

My return to the short story came after visiting a screenwriting friend who has given up. Following a (paid for) critique of three of her screenplays, she has been using the avoidance technique of genealogy to escape dealing with the review. There was nothing specific said about faulty story structure or technique, but her efforts didn’t fit the critic’s view of a blockbuster. (Apparently he re-writes scripts for Hollywood.) While at first upbeat by the comment, ‘you write such good prose,’ said friend has since become disillusioned. Instead of accepting the comments as one person’s, and developing her stories as she wants, she has let them drift. It was in an attempt to reinvigorate her that hubby and I suggested she enter her scripts in to competitions – cheaper than paying for a critique and a way of getting her name out there.

While I was searching for links that might be of use, I came across a couple of short story competitions that I thought I would go for. It’s been a while since I’ve tried the discipline, but now my long story is finished, it is one I feel the urge to dip into once again – to write and tell a story in a matter of hours or weeks instead of over months and years. Hopefully this isn’t my way of avoiding having to deal with the dreaded chapter 13. I don’t think it is and I was busy again Wednesday with editing…

I have been back into Chapter 1 and finished (for the time being) its latest incarnation. The word count has grown from 3500 to just over 5000 and presented me with a new problem – is Chapter 1 one chapter or two? I had started with each chapter being written from one character’s point of view, but chapter one seems to want to cut itself in half. Both sections are from the same character’s POV: the first covers Stacy’s response to hearing her friend is dying; the second is the conversation Stacy has with her husband in the evening. They previously sat in the same chapter quite happily, but now seem to be two distinct scenes. However, giving Stacy two chapters at the outset would upset the rhythm of the book that follows – Pippa’s emails followed by a chapter of description. And so, for the time being, I have Chapter 1A and Chapter 1B and will decide when I get back to the beginning again what to do.

Moving on to the second of Pippa’s emails, I added 200-words and then tackled Chapter 2. As with Chapter 1, much of it has been added to or changed. I have been living with the characters, off and on, for a year now so I’m comfortable with them; their words are more familiar, and it stands out when my healthy eater (Adam) orders fish and chips in a pub. He still drinks real ale, but he’s got to go for something with fewer calories than deep fried fish and potatoes. Chapter 2 also seems to want to split in two with distinct sections: the first being Dan preparing himself for his meeting with Adam (to tell him Pippa is dying); the second being the meeting itself. By the end of the day I hadn’t finished. Hopefully next time, a re-read of the whole chapter, will settle the issue of to split or not to split.

Written by Sarah Ann

January 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

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