For me, there are plenty of examples of stories which are well written - well-crafted and technically competent. Often, they are very, very good indeed.

But they do not always enjoy success, be it winning competitions or catching the eye of publishers. Why?

I suspect the reason is that they do not have that extra something, that something that makes the story truly live.

Whether it be the description of a place that makes you shiver because you feel the chill air coming off the hills, or a portrayal of a character so real they could easily walk in through the door and you would not be surprised, these are stories that have something extra.

Or it might be a new idea, or a twist on an old idea, that starts you thinking, or something that gets you wanting to shout for joy or roar with anger.

Whatever it is, it these are the somethings that take a story from the OK to really good. The somethings that mean that you simply cannot get the story out of your mind.

Years ago, I presided over the judging panel for short story competition. At the end, the judges picked a superb winner, one that would stand toe to toe with the very best writing around. It was different, quirky, heart-rending, powerful, evocative, inventive, mesmerising - I could go on.

In agreeing their citation, the panel said they wanted to say that there was a lot of ‘competent’ writing out there. It felt like damning the other writers taking part with faint praise but the judges were absolutely right.

There was a lot of stories that were OK, but there were a few that were better than that and one that was absolutely superb. It stood out above all the others and still nestles in a corner of my brain, remembered and admired.

 

Views: 19

Reply to This

Latest Activity

John Dean posted blog posts
6 hours ago
John Dean commented on John Dean's blog post In search of an idea for a novel
"Hi Deborah Thank you for this. Yes, working on one now but the next one to come out will be the latest in the Blizzard series, which was finished earlier in the year Thank you for all your support John"
13 hours ago
Deborah Kaback commented on John Dean's blog post In search of an idea for a novel
"Are you going to write another book in the DCI Harris series? I read them all and hope there will be more."
yesterday
John Dean posted a blog post

In search of an idea for a novel

I have just finished the first draft of a new novel. As I always do, I’ll let it rest then come back to it in a few weeks to start the edit with fresh eyes. Which means that I need an idea for the next one– and I have not got one!I have always been interested in where writers’ ideas come from. I know that some writers respond first and foremost to plots, ideas they hear or read which become the germ of a story.Some respond to characters. Maybe they see someone in the bus queue and an idea…See More
yesterday
John Dean posted a blog post

Online crime fiction course helps aspiring writers

Crime novelist and creative writing tutor John Dean, who runs Inscribe Media, has been working with a number of aspiring authors on his company's online Crime Fiction Course.John is the author of 16 novels and is currently published by London-based The Book Folks. He is the creator of DCI John Blizzard and DCI Jack Harris.The…See More
Sunday
John Dean posted blog posts
Friday
John Dean shared their blog post on Facebook
Friday
John Dean posted blog posts
Jul 10
John Dean posted blog posts
Jul 8
Vivian Rivera updated their profile
Jul 5
John Dean posted blog posts
Jul 4
John Dean posted a blog post

Crime Readers’ Association well worth a look

I can heartily recommend the Crime Readers’ Association (CRA) to any fan of crime fiction, Emerging from the UK Crime Writers’ Association, of which I am a member, the CRA was set up to give readers news and information from their favourite authors along with tips for beginners working in the genre.The Crime Readers’ Association…See More
Jul 3
Profile IconJohn Dean Crime Novelist now has events
Jul 3
Vivian Rivera is now a member of John Dean Crime Novelist
Jul 3
John Dean posted a blog post

Bringing your characters to life

Further to my recent post on reviews, The Railway Man received one on Amazon recently, which said: “The author continues to come up with great storylines and continues to develop the main characters further so it’s like you nearly seem to know them.”I am delighted that the reviewer felt able to say this. The test of an author’s…See More
Jun 29
Richard McCreight is now a member of John Dean Crime Novelist
Jun 29

Videos

© 2018   Created by John Dean.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service