[Note: For the sixth year of the group, starting from 5th October 2020, the format is now a choice of 250, 500 or 750 words]
Astute visitors to this blog will have noticed an invitation, placed on most posts and pages, to join a fortnightly story-writing group. Perhaps you’ve even thought, “I’d like to write stories but I don’t know if I can,” or “I don’t know whether I can be bothered to write a story every fortnight”? Read on!
Depending on the age of the post or page, the story length referred to could be anything from 200 to 500 words. That’s because, for the first year it was 200 words, for the second year it was 300 words etc. – up to the current limit of 500 words.
I’m not planning on increasing the limit above 500 words, although there will be opportunities to optionally write to a longer limit, typically 1000 words.
So, how does it work? you ask. First of all, you don’t have to submit a story every fortnight, many people have never submitted anything. That’s OK, but it kinda defeats the object of joining the group. For those who are keen and want to improve their writing you may send up to three stories each time.
The stories are submitted to me by e-mail to a deadline. They are then collated and the resultant collections e-mailed out every other Sunday to all on the mailing list. You can unsubscribe at any time, but everyone is automatically unsubscribed every year. You have to contact me, stating that you wish to continue. So, don’t worry that you will be sent unwanted stories every fortnight forever!
So, what kind of stories are required and what are the criteria? Firstly, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a story per se. It could be an article, a poem or an essay. But it must conform to the 500-word limit.
The requirement for the first story of the month is a ‘special assignment,’ which could be a choice of prompts, scenarios or a structure. For example, a prompt could be ‘Write about broken bones,’ ‘The stranger at the crossroads,’ ‘Write about a country you’ve never been to but would like to visit’ etc.
A scenario might be ‘Write a story set in a lift,’ ‘Write about explorers on Mars’ etc.
A structure could be ‘Write a dialogue for a family row at Christmas’ or ‘Write a first-person story using three scenes, all starting with the phrase ‘It was raining,’ for example.
Or the assignment could be something else entirely, depending on the moderator’s deviousness! Whatever, there would normally be a choice of at least three options.
The second story of the month is based on ‘designated words.’ In fact, that is how all previous groups were run. The idea of alternating with ‘special assignments’ only began with the 500-word limit. N.B. Occasionally there will be a third story of the month, based similarly on designated words, depending on where the Sundays fall.
Five words are selected at random. The first word must start the story, the remainder must be included (in any order).
Sometimes the words may inspire a story idea, sometimes they may be ‘slotted’ into an existing idea. The choice is yours!
Also, there is a voting system. All members of the group are invited to vote for their favourite story, whether they have submitted a story themselves or not. The result of the vote is announced when the next collection is sent out.
Finally, did I mention that this whole blog came about from joining a monthly 100-word story group?! I soon tired of that and started my own fortnightly 200-word story group. That grew into the current 500-word fortnightly story group and inspired most of the stories on this blog!
If you are interested in the creative and editing processes I use to write for the fortnightly story group, as well as creating stories for this blog (and my three books) please check this post out. I know my editing skills have improved dramatically since I started writing for the group!
So, if you would like to improve your compositional skill by writing regularly on a variety of themes, as well as gaining more readers for your work, please drop me a line via the contact page. What have you got to lose?
- To purchase the stories on To Cut a Short Story Short up to December 2018 in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audio-book form, and for news on new titles, please see Shop.
- If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 600 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.
- Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on the blog. There are over 300!