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What are your intentions? by Sophie Duffy

Whatever you are writing for this competition, make sure your piece has honourable intentions. By this I mean, make sure your entry has a point, a story, something to say. A competent use of grammar, a way with words, a quirky style is a good start, but it isn’t enough. You need to leave the judges with an impression that is hard to shake. You need to give your piece of writing a life that will go on after they have finished reading.

Here’s a few things to think about when starting out or redrafting.

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Meet Pat Good, short story judge Hysteria 2016

Which writers or poets inspire you and why?

I have fond memories of reading Dickens through my school years until present day. He is a master storyteller and hones in on the minutiae of life and character so exactly that I feel compelled to keep reading just one more paragraph, one more page then one more chapter.

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Meet Hannah Onoguwe, short story judge hysteria 2016

Which writers or poets inspire you and why?

There are so many, more than I can likely remember off the top of my head. More recently Taiye Selasi, for her lyricism, the way she plumbs the depths of a character’s emotions, feelings, until you must agree that there’s nothing more that could have been said about them. Paulo Coelho, for making fantastic stories in simplicity. Maya Angelou for her graciousness, her honesty, her weaving of sentences.

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Meet Veronica Bright, Flash Fiction judge 2016

Which writers or poets inspire you and why?

Where do I start? I’m inspired by people who write compassionately about the characters in their books. Rachel Joyce does this particularly well in The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennesey, and Anne Tyler has a gift for taking very ordinary people, and making the reader understand what makes them tick. Emma Healey inspired me with her book Elizabeth is Missing. Maud, her long-suffering daughter Helen, and her lively grand-daughter Katy were real and the writer made it so easy for me to empathise with them.

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Meet Ingrid Jendrzejewski – flash fiction judge 2016

Which writers or poets inspire you and why?

So many writers and poets have inspired me, it hardly seems fair to select out a few, but I’ll try!

Jorge Luis Borges was an important early influence – when I came across Labyrinths on my parents’ bookshelf, I felt like I’d been socked in the face with its originality. Those stories made me aware that so much more could be done with fiction than I had ever considered.

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Meet Anne Wilson – short story judge 2016

Which writers or poets inspire you and why?

I am inspired by both the stories and writing style of Joyce Carol Oates; the realism and pathos of her characters and their lives is incredible and her sheer output is an inspiration in itself; also, Lisa St Aubin de Teran and JG Ballard. I currently find most Scandi Noir inspiring, I like a dark twist, and have been impressed by a number of new authors who have written amazing stories.

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Meet Stephanie Hutton – flash fiction judge 2016

Which writers or poets inspire you and why?

My love of shorter fiction started from reading one of Adam Marek’s stories in an anthology. I was stunned by his story Tamagotchi and realised that you really can write about anything (possible or not) and achieve so much in just a few paragraphs. Reading Raymond Carver reminds me of the stunning impact that can be made through short stories using simple language. I then moved to ‘short-short’ stories, my now beloved flash fiction. There are many fantastic writers out there who can condense a whole world into one page, often leaving a tantalising ambiguity; Tania Hershman, Kathy Fish, David Gaffney and so many more that I may only read one story by in an anthology, but am motivated and educated by it.

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