'These darkly comic tales place the author snugly between Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Be sure: Chris Fielden is one funny feller.' Allen Ashley, British Fantasy Award winner.
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Christopher Fielden

Short Stories, Writing Competitions, Writing Tips, Publishing Advice & Free Writing Resources

I'm a writer. I use my published short stories as case studies in the hope that the information and advice provided might help other writers become published authors. I hope you'll learn from my mistakes and therefore have a better chance of winning prizes in short story competitions or having your work published in magazines. That's the aim, anyway. Of course, if anyone just wants to read my stories, that's great too.

Here are the quick links on this page:

advertise - books - challenges - competitions - course - donate - music - services

stories - submit - tips - to hull & back

All the short stories and writing resources on this website are provided for you to enjoy/use free of charge. However, to ensure that all the content on the website remains available to everyone, I have to make enough profit to cover the operating costs. If you are able/would like to donate anything to help me keep the website free to use, it would be very much appreciated.

Towards the bottom of the homepage is a full introduction to the site. If you want to skip that, you can go straight to the most popular areas of the website, listed below for convenience (also linked to in the 'quick links' at the top of the page).

Short Story Writing Course

My comprehensive short story writing course comprises professionally produced videos, extensive supporting documentation, multiple writing exercises, in-depth short story critiques, one-to-one mentoring sessions, contributions from experts – professional writers, editors and competition judges – new case studies that clearly show you how all the advice given has been used in practice to achieve publishing success, and much more.

You can learn about the course curriculum here.

Short Story Writing Course

I have also developed a free short story writing course, so students can see if they like my teaching style before purchasing my comprehensive short story course.

You can learn about the free course here.

Short Story Writing Course

Short Stories

Once Upon A Time Typewriter

I provide some of my published short stories to read free of charge in the short story section of the website. Most of them are fantasy stories written in a humorous style.

You'll find lots of writing tips and advice alongside the stories, including comments from magazine editors, competitions judges and readers. From this, you can learn why the stories were published and then apply the same principles to your own writing, giving you a better chance of publishing success.

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Writing Tips & Advice

Writing Tips

The writing advice section of the website is crammed with lots of different writing resources, all free of charge. The resources contain lots of practical, free writing tips and advice about creating short stories. I try to add more useful information regularly.

One of the free resources contains details on special offers and discount codes specifically for writers.

Special Offers

This includes details of short story & flash fiction writing courses, free tutorials, opportunites to write & work abroad, discount codes for purchasing books, free advice on advertising books on Amazon & Facebook, amazing publishing opportunities for novels, software for authors, content packages and much more.

To see all the latest deals, please check out my special offers for writers resource.

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Writing Competitions

Writing Competitions

The writing advice section of the website also contains the most popular resources on the website - a variety of writing competition lists and calendars. These include information regarding prizes, key dates, entry fees, story length and possible publication opportunities.

Short Story Competitions

The short story competition lists contain details of many national and international competitions run all over the world. The lists are broken down into sections, including regular competitions, prestigious contests offering big prizes, annual awards, competitions for children and young authors, and many more.

Short Story Magazines

The short story magazine lists contain information on magazines and journals that accept unsolicited fiction submissions. Genres and styles vary greatly - there are heaps of publishing opportunities out there for short story writers.

Flash Fiction Competitions

Because the short story competition lists were becoming incredibly long, I decided to create a separate resource listing flash and micro fiction opportunities to help make the website easier to use.

Book / Novel Competitions

The book / novel competitions lists give details of global contests for full length novels, novelettes and novellas.

Poetry Competitions

The poetry competitions lists are broken down in a similar way to the short story competitions lists - regular contests, prestigious awards offering big prizes, annual competitions etc.

Essay Contests and Non-Fiction Writing Competitions

The non-fiction writing contest lists detail lots of essay competitions and scholarships.

Short Story Collection Competitions

A list of competitions specifically for collections of short stories and anthologies. These types of contest are rare, so I am always looking out for new ones.

Young Writer Competitions

A list of competitions specifically for children, students and young writers.

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Write For Me - Submit

If you'd like to write for my website, please read my submission guidelines.

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If you're interested in advertising on the site, please visit my advertising page.

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My Humorous Annual Short Story Competition - To Hull & Back

The short story competition that offers the greatest, and most sought after, literary prize on the planet. You can learn more on the To Hull & Back competition page. Every year, the prize pot increases.

To Hull And Back Humorous Short Story Competition

The latest winner's video of the epic ride from Bristol to Hull (and back) can be seen below:

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Writing Challenges

I'm now running a variety of flash fiction writing challenges to help writers develop their knowledge and skills (and have some fun). You can submit for free, see your short stories published and support charity.

Learn more about the Writing Challenges.

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Writing Services

See my main writing services page for details of all the services I offer. These include critiques, editing, talks, presentations and workshops.

Author Talks, Presentations and Workshops

I regularly undertake talks for literary festivals, schools, universities or any other establishment that is interested in a fun and engaging presentation about writing fiction.

Christopher Fielden, Literary Festival Author Presentation

To learn more, please visit my author talks page.

Short Story Critique & Proofreading Services

Writing Services

I offer short story proofreading and critiquing services, which have directly helped other writers become published authors. You can learn more about that in the writing services section of the site.

These services have been improved and updated over the years. I now have a team of experts who help me provide and run the service.

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In the books section of the website you can find details on all of my books.

How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money

I have releasing a book called How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money. It does what it says on the proverbial tin. It's packed with writing tips and advice based on my own real-life publishing experience.

If you like the information provided on this website, you'll love this book. It contains 100 times more information and multiple short-story case-studies, showing you exactly how the tips and advice were used in practice to get a short story published.

You can order a FREE sample of the book - click the link above to find out how.

To Hull & Back Short Story Anthologies

The To Hull & Back short story anthologies contain the prize winning and shortlisted stories from each competition. They also include stories from the different judges. So each anthology contains 25 to 30 excellent humorous short stories for readers to enjoy.

Wicked Game

Wicked Game was my first book. It's a fast paced thriller. You can buy it on Amazon and Lulu.

Writing Challenge Anthologies

Every time 100 stories are received through the writing challenges I run, I publish an anthology. Proceeds from book sales are donated to charity.

You can learn more about the writing challenge anthologies here.

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Drum Kit from above

I play drums in a variety of rock bands. The music section of the site is dedicated to that. Here's a video of 'Fade' by Airbus, one of the bands I play in:

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How to get a Short Story Published

An introduction to the Christopher Fielden website

Being a new writer and facing rejection can sometimes leave inspiration cremated like a forgotten sausage on a barbecue. But then the observation of any event can inspire a story, creating an escape from negativity. If you’re like me, when inspiration launches itself into a skydive, you’ll find yourself staring at a computer screen at 3am, trying to work out how a demon and a legless soldier might interact convincingly, wrestling to unravel your mental parachute in time to enjoy the view and deliver a graceful landing.

Writers hands at laptop computer, Chris Fielden

OK, I tend to be drawn towards the fantastic; characters and subject matters which remove you from reality. But whatever genre you find yourself writing, I suspect you can relate.

Books are notoriously difficult to sell if you’re an unknown writer. Agents are hard to come by and gaining the attention of reputable publishers is even more of a challenge. So, how can one become a successful writer?

In one of my more despondent moments, after another failed attempt at writing a 300 word synopsis that was turning out to be harder to finish than an 80,000 word novel, I found myself wondering what I could offer the world of creative writing that might be a little different. I’m not famous. I haven’t achieved anything particularly newsworthy. How might I stand out amongst the swarm? Then, a devious plan crawled forth from the darker recesses of my mind like a sneaky brain ninja.

I realised, like newspaper articles, short stories are a lot easier to complete. Once finished, unlike novels, there are many opportunities for publishing short stories and you don’t have to write a synopsis. Bonus. There are many respected short story competitions out there, which can gain a winning writer kudos and credibility. Roald Dahl, Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Philip K Dick and many other successful authors started out writing short stories, so why can’t I?

So, I started writing a lot of short stories. Due to being blessed with skin as thick as Godzilla, I’ve overcome rejection, developed a style that seems to work, and I’m fortunate enough to have been published. It took a while, but I achieved my first competition win early in 2011. But how could I utilise this achievement to further my writing career?

Currently, the internet seems to be a good way of gaining exposure and readers. The tricky bit is standing out and offering something unique. There are so many good writing resources already out there, and gazillions of excellent self-published authors to compete with, that being noticed is very difficult. I work in internet marketing and, over the last few years, have learnt a lot about making websites work well. Offering useful, interesting content seems (to me) to be the best way of engaging with communities, gaining credibility and giving yourself the opportunity of being noticed.

And that’s what I decided to attempt to do. Rather than having a website that simply showcases my work, I thought I’d use my published stories as case studies to provide other writers with useful information, advice and tips on how to get their own work published. All the short stories on the site (see the short stories section) have been published or been shortlisted or won prizes in short story competitions. By sharing my experiences, I hope I can help more writers achieve publishing success.

I’ll also provide information on the pros and cons of the various writing competitions I’ve entered. OK, this is one man’s opinion, but it is based on experience. I hope you find it useful. And, where I’ve been given permission to use their words, you’ll find comments from editors and short story competition judges, explaining why the stories were chosen and published.

So, what’s in for me? There’s a link on all the pages on this site which will take you to Lulu.com where, if you’d like to, you can buy a copy of my first book, Wicked Game. Other than that, it gives me somewhere to publish my work in the hope it might be read, and (fingers, toes and dangly bits crossed) enjoyed.

How to Write a Short Story, writing tips and advice

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This page may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Leave your comments

Please use the form below to leave your comments. All comments will be reviewed so won't appear on the page instantly. I will not share your details with anyone else. Most recent comments appear at the bottom of the page, oldest at the top.

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Your comments:

Tom M
Finding your website was  like spotting a gold nugget while panning for months in ice cold water. It has given me hope and the push to keep 'panning'. I have been writing for some time with limited success - you have given me hope.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Tom, really glad to hear it!

Sara S
Awesome, very helpful site. Thank you!

Alan H
Dear Christopher, Great help! Thankyou. Alan

Abdullah H
Your site has proved to be a source of inspiration and I thank you greatly. It's difficult to settle upon a favourite story but The Cat, the Bull and the Madman resonated with me, as I had worked with a paranoid schizophrenic lady a few years ago and this was partially characterised by delusions. Beautifully written and sensitively treated. Humingbee Bumblebird Meadow was an excellent story! The moral was delicately conveyed and the imagery effective in telling the story. And the Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle had a fiendish twist that stayed in my head for a few days! 

I've been writing on and off for years, but this is the first time I've attempted a short story. Novels seem too large a scale project for me and I simply don't think I'm ready to embark on one yet. 

Well done for the site; I really appreciate it. Take care,  Abdullah :-)

Lynda N
Great website, Chris!

Usama L
Extremely useful. It's like finding an oasis in a desert!!

Chris Fielden
Sara, Alan, Abdullah, Linda & Usama - Thank you all very much!!

Andrew N
Hello Christopher, I visited your website today while looking for short story competitions and I've enjoyed looking through it and reading a couple of your stories. I've been writing short fiction for a few years and been placed in a couple of the competitions you've mentioned (made it to the longlist in both Inktears and The Word Hut).

I read your story Hummingbee Bumblebird Meadow and related to your comment on finding it hard to get a children's story published. There doesn't seem to be many around when I Googled. I wrote a children's story called 'The Spider and the Bumblebee' which made it to 3rd place on Writers' Village in 2012, so it's on their site. My plan is to illustrate it and start sending out to publishers, so I'm preparing for a long journey on that one!

Well done on your success so far and I'll look forward to seeing your name pop up in other competitions. All the best, Andrew

Chris Fielden
Hi Andrew, congratulations on your Writers’ Village publication – the amount of competition for that contest makes is pretty tough to succeed, so that’s a great achievement! It’s really good to get a story for children published through them. I don’t know about you, but I find kids stories really hard to write. Still, I enjoy the challenge.

Best of luck with your writing, and getting those illustrations finished :-) Chris

Hi,Chris, I'm an Indian, and you know, this is not the place for dreams, especially when you are not a rich man. Maybe you are talented but at every stage, an uncertain feeling in the core of your heart always makes you remember that you are born in a poor familiy, and poor can only dream of what they never make true. Now why am I telling you this? Bcause I think I am not an Indian but a man, like you, living in this beautiful world, with an extreme endeavour to make my dreams true. And this website has made the blurred way quite easy to walk through. Love you, and thanks a lot.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Abhijit, that's one of the nicest comments I've ever received through the website :-)

Richard S
Hi, your website and the advice it contains may well be just what I'm looking for at this resoundingly despondent juncture; several competitions entered, nil success and (even more dishearteningly) zero feedback - there can't be anything less encouraging than that feeling of being ignored! However, I'll persevere because writing is - and I think always will be - the only thing I've any particular ambition to do. Entered three competitions recently, and only yesterday found self and story unmentioned in the results of one of them, but two still to go. Although I'm now not holding out any particular hope, even if, as expected, I get nowhere fast with either of these remaining, I'll definitely take on board some of the hints and tips you offer, so will be back to this site. Down but not out, then. Many thanks.

Chris Fielden
Unfortunately you rarely hear back from competitions or receive feedback, unless you're shortlisted (sometimes not even then) or win.

I'd advise you to enter competitions that do offer feedback. Writers' Village offer a brief critique to every entrant as part of the entry fee. You can also pay a small fee and receive a short critique from Writers' Forum. Why not try it? I've found the feedback they offer very useful.

Aside from that, never give up! I've had many stories rejected by various publications, but continued to submit them to other competitions and magazines. Eventually they do get published, especially if you take on board any feedback you might receive and make improvements in-between submissions.

Keep at it! It's all about refusing to give up!

Richard S
Many thanks for your reply, and for such helpful and encouraging advice - I'll let you know of any progress!

Chris Fielden
Thanks Richard. Please do! Look forward to hearing about your first published story :-)

Arka R
I found your website while searching through the internet. I have a question. I was planning to enter one of the writers digest competitions for short stories. Since you have won one, I have a question.

Firstly, I'm not a professional writer (sadly), I have a full time job as an engineer. Writing has been a passion of mine since my childhood so I decided to give it a go again. My question to you may seem silly but it would be really helpful of you if you can answer it.

I was wondering whether you had to declare any money you win through competitions for tax? It's important for me to know this since I am on a visa here in the UK so I would like to be well informed about all this.

I know I'm may be jumping the gun here. I mean who wins the first time right? :) But any form of help would be really appreciated.

Chris Fielden
Hi Arka, yes, you do in the UK – I’m not sure if it’s the same in other countries. I’ve written a post about it which you can see here.

And you never know, you might win the first competition you enter! Best of luck with your writing.

Your engaging style and transparency is truly touching. I am certain that at least some of the visitors to your website will be sufficiently inspired to blossom into great writers.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much P!

Charmian S
Hello Christopher, thank you for your very helpful website.

I read Wicked Game recently - it is brilliant, I gave it 5 stars and wrote a review on Amazon (which I.'m only occasionally moved to do). I've been thinking about the great story, very well written, and realised it put me in mind of Ben Elton's novels. Would love to see a sequel.

Best regards, Charmian

Chris Fielden
Thank you very much for the review, Charmian, much appreciated :-)

I'm really glad you enjoyed the book. There may be a sequel at some point, but I'm currently working on a short story collection for Ink Tears, which I'm hoping they will publish later this year. Fingers crossed!

Eddie L
I like your site and it is v useful to have links to short story competitions and markets. I have written around eight 3000 word stories recently and have really enjoyed the process even if, in the words of F Murrary Abraham's character in Inside Llewyn Davies, 'I don't see a lot of money here'. The lot of the creative artist, I suppose....

Chris Fielden
Thanks Eddie, I'm glad you like the site. Well, there is some money out there; you just have to enter some competitions!

And there is always another Stephen King / Terry Pratchett / J K Rowling around the corner. Who knows - it might be you :-)

Phil C
I'm just on your website. It's very useful, especially about all the comp's.

I must admit though, as a new writer, I am finding all the various magazines / websites / comp's you can send your work to like a minefield! Which ones are good? Which ones are a waste of time? Anyway, I'm not expecting you to answer those questions, it's down to me to do all the research.

One thing I would really appreciate if you could answer for me is when comp's and / or magazines say that they only accept unpublished work, what does this mean exactly? As I have had three stories published on a website called short-story.me that I did not get paid for. Does this mean that I can't really send these stories elsewhere? It would be a shame, because it is my best work to date and I would like to send it off to other places to see if it is worthy or whether the website that did publish it just happened to like my style of writing?

Please advise. Many thanks.

Chris Fielden
Phil, glad you like the website.

Yeah, it’s a minefield. I reckon Writers’ Forum is a good place to start. The competition is cheap to enter, it’s run regularly and they offer feedback at very reasonable prices, so that’s as good a place as any. It’s worth reading the magazine before entering.

Re unpublished work; usually, it means they want something that has never been published before, on the internet, in print or via any other medium. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t get paid – the story is still published, so the first publication rights are no longer available. But you will have to read the T&Cs of each individual competition or magazine. Some say they do not include publication on personal blogs, for example. It’s down to each publisher and what they require. But if it’s not stated otherwise, you can assume it means not previously published ANYWHERE!

There are a few comps and magazines that do accept previously published work, but not many. Again, I’m afraid you’d have to research that.

Hope that’s helpful. Best of luck with your writing :-)

Phil C
Thanks for this, Chris. If, say, I changed the title of my stories, do you think then I could claim it as unpublished work? I know it's a bit cheeky!

Chris Fielden
Phil, you might get away with it, but it’s risky. All a comp administrator has to do is bung the first few paragraphs of your story through Google and they’d probably see it was previously published!

Phil C
No I probably wouldn't, I don't want to get a black mark against my name. Well thank you very much for your advice, read your story about the girl who gets kidnapped by the fiend and taken back to the dragon; very good. Well good luck with your writing. Thanks again.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Phil, that is probably wise. Glad you liked the story. And best of luck with your writing too.

Phil C
Is there a formatted short story manuscript template anywhere on the internet I can use? I have the latest Writers' Yearbook but it doesn't appear to say anything in there about how to correctly format short stories. I did find a template on internet by a William Schunn which I tend to use, but not sure if that is UK or American. Or doesn't it matter?

There doesn't seem to be a standard way of formatting short stories, each publisher seems to be different, for example, some may ask for double spaces while others only single spacing.

I do find it confusing because when I wrote comedy sitcoms, there was an actual standard template on the BBC Writersroom website that everyone had to use, if you didn't then you probably wouldn't get your work looked at.

Appreciate if you could help me.

Chris Fielden
Phil, there isn’t a standard template that is used by everyone, as most publishers have different formatting requirements.

The William Schunn template is the one I use if no guidelines are given. It seems to be widely regarded as the right way to do it – I’ve seen some magazines and competitions link to it as an example. Usually you’ll just have to reformat depending on what a publisher wants.

Brandon A
I want to thank you for your site, and all the work you have put into it, and for your desire to help other writers. This site has provided me with a lot of insight.

I am trying to become a writer myself. I have submitted several works to various literary journals and all have been denied with very little comment other than "this is not for us." I did, however, recently receive some criticism from one such journal that refused my work. They said it was languorous and that I needed to be more "economical" with my words. I am afraid what they are saying is that "artistic writing" is just no longer of any import in today's market. If I am wrong I would love to hear your opinion about this. You have been doing this far longer than I have and you have met with success.

I would love to submit my story to you for your analysis and critique. Unfortunately I do not have the budget at the moment.

Thank you for your time and for reading this email from a desperate and discouraged would-be writer.

Chris Fielden
Brandon, I wouldn’t be too discouraged. While one journal might not appreciate your style, or find it appropriate for their audience, others might. I write quirky fantasy and have received a lot of rejection as it does not suit every editor. As time goes on, you develop skin thicker than Godzilla. I find that rejection really doesn’t bother me anymore.

What I’d do is take the advice you have received on board. Is there any editing you could do to improve your story, while keeping your style in place? Often, when I look at my own work, I find I can cut it back and make it flow more convincingly.

Once you’ve done that, I’d research your markets carefully and submit to publishers who are more likely to appreciate your style. From what I’ve read, Fish Publishing tend to like more artistic stories so that might be a potential market for you. Another good one is the Writers' Forum short story competition. They offer brief feedback for a small fee when you submit and seriously consider all styles, so that might be good for you.

I hope that’s helpful and best of luck with your writing. Oh, and never give up!

Nicky K
Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your website. As someone who feels inexorably drawn to writing but is doing everything but getting down to it, your site was full of ideas, practical advice and invaluable links - thank you!

Just a couple of questions. What creative writing course did you take? Would you recommend any locally? I live in Gloucestershire and have picked up your links to the Bristol Folk House and Writing Events in Bath. Just interested to hear what you think. Also, when you submitted articles to newspapers, were you paid?

Best wishes, Nicky

Chris Fielden
Thanks Nicky :-)

I did The Writers Bureau creative writing course. I found the course very well structured and informative. The feedback from tutors was useful and encouraging. You have to be self-motivated though, as there are no deadlines (this might have changed as I did the course around 7 or 8 years ago now). It’s down to you to complete an assignment and send it in for feedback. The only thing I found a little disappointing was that they didn’t give you a certificate or anything to say you’d completed the course. Still, it was very good.

I did a short 1 day course at the Bristol Folk House and found that offered excellent quality at an affordable price. It’s a nice place too, with a good café, which is always important!

Yes, I did get paid for the newspaper articles I’ve written. Some were for a flat fee. The articles were written for local newspapers and I was paid around £50 – they work on small budgets. Others articles were paid by the line, at around £0.08 per line for each column. You also got paid for photo space, if you submitted photos they decided to use. Photos could earn you more than the article itself if the photo was large. That pay structure ended up earning anywhere from £5 to £50 depending on how long the piece was and how much space it took up. I haven’t written any articles for a while now as I’ve been concentrating on fiction, so these figures could well be out of date.

Hope that’s helpful!

Nicky K
Thanks for the information - very helpful, appreciated!

I am aware of the Writers Bureau, so I'll check it out. I was looking at the Open University's Creative Writing course also. A friend did it years ago and found it pretty good. And at the end of that you would get a certificate!

Again, congratulations on an excellent and informative website.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Nicky :-)

John G
Life is hard, particularly so currently as I recently told my employer to go swivel but still have three kids to feed, clothe, subscribe to Xbox Live...

So I wondered if you were aware of any short poetry competitions I could enter, obviously without charge (see above) but with HUGE prizes?

If so, do you think you could point me towards them and if I win, (guffaw), I'll buy you a curry, whether you like curry or not!

Chris Fielden
John, I do like curry so it’s a deal :-)

I’m not familiar with many poetry competitions. Writers’ Forum run one, but I think there is a small entry fee. It might be worth buying the magazine, or having a look in the back of it in WH Smiths, as they list some poetry comps in there, so that might be a good starting point. And try Booktrust too. Not sure if they list poetry comps, but they might do.

Hope that’s helpful and you manage to earn some pennies to sort out the kid’s gaming addictions.

Julie D
Chris, you might remember me: we briefly corresponded about a year ago, I think. I was asking you about short story competitions and so on. Well, I have sent my stories to a number of competitions and was shortlisted for one but that was it; I think the nature of my stories is part of the problem. They are more like 'short tales' than short stories, as you will see. You can see my blog here.

If you've got a mo, I'd love you to take a look and let me know what you think. There are 2 stories on there in full and my idea is to replace them periodically with others from the collection, and eventually publish them as an ebook when I have generated enough interest. If you like them, I'd love you to share with whoever you feel might enjoy them.

Thanks very much, Chris. Looks like you are going from strength to strength with your writing - good on you! Julie

Chris Fielden
Julie, I read Resurrection. It’s really well written and imaginative.

I find that my stories are rejected quite a lot because they’re imaginative and often require the reader to suspend their disbelief. Sometimes, readers find this hard and therefore don't engage with my writing style. Others, with vivid imaginations, tend to be drawn to the style. This means people seem to love my stories or hate them with very little in-between, much like Marmite. You could find your style creates a similar situation. I look on it as positive, because at least it provokes a reaction!

I would advise you to keep entering competitions and approach magazines too as they tend to accept longer stories so that might be appropriate for you (have a look at the magazines page). If you’ve already been shortlisted, that’s encouraging and means you are likely to receive a prize at some point.

Writers’ Forum is a good one to enter, but it does have a 3,000 word limit. If you have a story that is short enough I’d suggest trying that one. As it’s run monthly, you have better odds of being published and they will consider all styles of story, where some magazines prefer certain niches which can make things harder unless you write in a manner that suits their audience.

Publishing an eBook is a great idea. Having some stories previously published will help though, as that adds credibility to you as a writer and means people are more likely to buy it. So I’d definitely keep submitting!

Best of luck with it all Julie :-)

Julie D
Thanks Chris; you are so helpful!

I'm impressed you read my story so promptly - and very happy you liked it.Yes, I think the same thing about suspension of disbelief, and wondered if that was behind the lack of interest for many competitions I've entered. I can't recall if I've entered Writers' Forum or not but that's a great tip; I will do it. Some of my stories are under 3,000 words too. I sent a load of stories to Aeon in Ireland which is a competition for speculative fiction - you may know it? - but no interest from them either, which was really discouraging.

I didn't realise you wrote stories that are a little similar. That makes me feel better!

I will have a look at the magazine section on your site too. And yes, I feel the same about a 'real' publishing deal which is why I have tried to go down that road first. Oh well, I'll keep trying.

Thanks again for your encouragement and ideas. VERY much appreciated.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Julie!

I submitted to Aeon too and they weren’t interested in my submission either. I suspect they receive a lot of submissions as they’re well known, so I wouldn’t worry too much as the competition is likely to be very high. You could try Strange Horizons or Light Speed Magazine. They are US magazines with a similar audience, so that might work for you :-)

Motkahil A
I live in Egypt and I wanted to participate in a short story contest. Can you please tell me if that is possible from my country? I write romance novels. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Motkahil, most of the contests I list accept entries from writers living anywhere in the world, as long as the stories are written in English. You will have to research the requirements of each competition as some only accept entries from the countries they operate in, but most will accept international entries.

Try looking through the lists in the Writing Advice section of my website and you'll be able to start your research.

Best of luck with your writing :-)

Jo B
Hi - we are a proper stock holding bookshop in Devizes and have a customer who would like a paperback copy of Wicked Game, is it possible to get one?? Many thanks, Jo

Chris Fielden
Jo, yes, you can, but the only way is to order them from Lulu. They print to order and then send you the book. Will that work? If not, I'll have to buy one and then send it to you, so going direct to Lulu will be much quicker!

Hamse I
Greetings! I have been busy writing my autobiography. I am a 27 year old doctor who, following a car accident, became paraplegic. I live in Somaliland, Horn of Africa. I've never written a book before and I would like to participate in an Autobiography contest, if there is one somewhere in the world. Please advise me on this.

Chris Fielden
Hamse, I’m afraid I don’t know of any autobiography contests. Try searching on Google for ‘memoir competition’. That might help you find something suitable.

Hope that’s helpful!

Victoria J
Dear Christopher, I was looking at the short story competitions on your site and am in the process of writing one. I am new to this and just wondered about spacing when starting a new paragraph.
I was always taught to leave an empty line between paragraphs but some books I have been looking at have a left indent, do you know which is the correct one to use? Many thanks, Victoria

Chris Fielden
Victoria, different competitions and magazines often ask for different formatting, so you always need to check the submission criteria.

Often they require the formatting with the first paragraph left aligned and then following paragraphs indented. Usually, magazines will expect stories to be double spaced. They will not expect a space between paragraphs unless there is a scene break.

If there is a scene break, there is a space between scenes, sometimes with a ‘*’ centrally aligned in the gap, especially if the space occurs at the end of a printed page. Without a marker in this instance, it is unclear if there is a break or not.

The first paragraph is left aligned and following ones indented.

I hope that’s helpful. But always read the submission guidelines, as many magazines and competitions have different requirements for layout and formatting!

Victoria J
Thank you so much for getting back to me, I really did not expect you to. Your guidance has helped greatly, I just need to get out of the habit of leaving a full line-space between each :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend, and thanks again.

Chris Fielden
Welcome, glad it helped Victoria :-)

Moshe P
I am a writer and I have a question. Let's say I have a 1,900-word short story, submitted to a magazine. Now, another magazine wants a 400-word flash fiction and my 1,900-word story's core essence fits perfectly. I manage to condense it from 1,900 to 400, give it a new title (or leave it as is), change the characters' names (or leave them as is), etc.

My question is: is this a NEW story? If the magazine says they want 'unpublished before' - what about my revised story? Not ALL my story is revised - is it submittable as 'unpublished before'?

Thank you very much.

Chris Fielden
Moshe, that’s a good question…

I think if you change the name of the story and the names of the characters, the story is different, even if it’s about the same subject matter. As it’s only 400 words instead of 1,900, it would be very different. So in this instance, I think it would be fine to submit to two different magazines and say they were different stories.

If you just changed the name and the characters' names and nothing else, then I think you’d have problems as the story would essentially be the same.

I hope that’s helpful :-)

Trenten M
I had a book self-published. It's really short and not my best work, but it's out there. I wouldn't have done it unless I was inspired by your site, so thanks.

Chris Fielden
Great to hear, Trenten! I hope you’re selling a few copies :-)

Kenza S
I am in a dire need for your help, so please send me a way which may help me to contact magazines as I have 15 short story and I want to publish them. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Kenza, if you look through the Writing Advice section of my website you will find lists of many different short story competitions and short story magazines. You can use these lists to research and find places to submit your work. Just make sure you do thorough research to ascertain whether your style and genre of writing is suitable for the publication you're submitting to.

I hope that's helpful. I wish you the best of luck with getting your stories published.

Alain A
Christopher, I entered five poems and five pieces of fiction into the Koestler competition in 2014. When the results came out I received a 'Bronze' award for one of the fiction stories. Even though I think the others were just as good.

So I am wondering what to do next. Certainly the act of writing the stories and poems was in itself therapeutic and I agree with you that the process is like a mental parachute that helped me through some of the darker moments of life.

I have decided to enroll on a creative writing course early next year. But I would appreciate your advice on how I potentially could proceed.

Chris Fielden
Alain, a writing course sounds like a good way forward. I did the Writers’ Bureau course about 8 years ago and found it very useful.

You probably do this already, but I always suggest that writers should read a lot. I subscribed to magazines like Writers’ Forum and Scribble for years and found reading all the stories and tips helpful. Even if you don’t like a story, you can learn from it.

And keep submitting your work – what one judge or editor dislikes, another might love. If my stories are rejected, I reread them, edit where necessary and then find a new market to submit them to. If you’re relentless with this approach (and your writing is of good quality and appropriate to the publication you’re submitting to) it does work.

You could also consider joining a writing group. I’ve been in one for about 2 years now and have found it incredibly useful. We all critique each other’s work which means we can improve the stories before submitting them anywhere. It leads to a much higher success rate.

The other option is to pay to have your work critiqued. This can be very helpful and help you spot faults and learn.

I hope that’s helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Colin G
Hi Chris, just wanted to say what a great site this is - lots of hints and tips that are well thought out and based on actual experience, rather than the usual load of bollicks. Love your stories too.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much Colin, glad you like the site :-)

Adam B
I have written a 110,000 word novel named No fading. I am unable to fund the publishing costs. Is there anything you can do for me? Two companies have reported back that my work is highly favourable. Assist and guide me to publish my work, please.

Chris Fielden
CAdam, the best bet is to publish it on Amazon or Lulu. That is free, so there are very few costs involved. If you want someone else to publish it, the best bet is to buy the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and research agents and publishers to submit your work to.

I hope that’s helpful, and best of luck with publishing your book.

Nobel A
I'm Noble from Ghana, an upcoming writer. I write poems, short stories and a little in terms of music. I want to join a group of writers and see if I can get published and also learn more.

 Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Noble, you'll have to do some research and find a local group. The group I belong to is based in the UK and we all meet up regularly. Do you think you'll be able to find a group in Ghana?

Gerri W
What wins and what doesn't? That's the big 64 dollar question. It's a great big internet... and so many of the writing contests want $$$, and may not provide much exposure other than themselves in your e-mail box.

Are you any different? Hmm... I'll see.

Chris Fielden
Ah, a sceptic, Gerri... :) I think it varies from competition to competition / magazine to magazine / website to website. The larger competitions with big prizes are likely to offer more exposure as they will have more interest and a higher readership. Some websites and magazines with big audiences also offer great exposure. The best bet is to read the submission  details and T&Cs. And research the competition / magazine / website in question and see if anyone's talking about it. The links on this site in the Writing Advice section should help with that.

I hope that's helpful!

Tony M
Hi Chris, thanks for a great website. Given that there are so many story writing competions do you know how many entries they attract? I expect that the competitions which offer the biggest prizes receive the most entries - is this assumption correct? I've recently written a couple of short stories but I'm unsure about which competition(s) to enter them in, especially since most have entry fees. .

Chris Fielden
Tony, so far as I know, it varies a lot. If the competition is open (accepting any style or genre) and is prestigious, there are likely to be thousands of entries. The competition I run, which has a humorous theme, attracted around 100 entries in its first year. I was involved in judging a free to enter competition themed around crime, and that attracted over 200 entries in 6 months – many entries were poor and I think this is because it was free to enter.

So it varies a lot, depending on how well known the competition is, the prizes on offer and the entry fee. It would also be logical to assume that entering competitions that are run regularly (monthly, for example) will mean you are up against fewer entries. But that’s an assumption, not based real-life on experience.

I hope that’s helpful :-)

Tony M
Chris, many thanks for your prompt reply - it's useful to get an idea of real numbers. The range of entries - from 100 to 1000s - is remarkable.

Rachida C
I like this site very much. thank you ^_^

Christine M
I don't know how to submit a story to a magazine. I have about 8 stories, nonfiction and fiction.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Rachida :-)

Christine, try my short story magazine page. There are many magazines listed and on each website you will find submission guidelines. Best of luck with getting your work published!

Helen P
I find your site very useful. So much information.

A while back I came across a website called publisher free and now I can't find it! Can you help, please?

Many thanks

Chris Fielden
Hi Helen

You can find details about Publisher Free in the 'other short story publishing opportunities' section of the short story competitions page.

John R
Hello Christopher, I just found your site and it looks great. A great deal of advice and help. I do so want to move forward and write short stories. Each day I write about 100 words, then I can't seem to write any more. Is it possible you can help me with my problem please? The stories are all different. I do read "Scribble" and the Writing Mags.

Many thanks.

Chris Fielden
John, it sounds like you are starter and not a finisher! If that's the case, the best thing to do is plan out a story before you write it. That way you know the characters, the direction and the plot before you begin. That will give you a clear way of driving the story forwards, making it more likely you will complete it.

The other thing you can do is research a magazine or competition you really want to be published by. That way, you have an end goal which can also help drive you to complete a story.

I hope that's helpful! I wish you the best of luck with your writing.

John R
Hi Chris, many thanks for your reply, and your sound advice.I shall be putting that into practice first thing tomorrow. I now feel that I have a proper goal, as you say, to aim for.Thank you once again for your help and guidance. Cheers, John

Chris Fielden
You’re welcome John! I hope it works for you :-)

Anne W
You must have worked so hard to compile this comprehensive and helpful site. Thank you, Chris

Chris Fielden
Thanks Anne, glad you found it useful!

Ini S
Chris, I write to enquire if you help budding writers from Africa to get their short stories published in short story magazines?

Chris Fielden
Ini, I list a lot of short story magazines on my website. That's a good place to start looking. You will have to do some research about each magazine's submission criteria and see what might be suitable for your work. Once you've targeted a couple that might be suitable, buy some back issues and read them. That way you can be sure they are right for you.

I hope that's helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Michael M
Brilliant and informative site, as has been mentioned, a great help and inspirational! Thanks a lot!

Chris Fielden
Glad you like the site, Michael, thanks for letting me know!

Berni B
Christopher, hope you don't mind me contacting you, but I was hoping you may be able to give me some advice.

I have just finished a children's story of 2,000 words with illustrations. I would like the book with large print but I have no idea how many pages this would take. Would you be able to advise me? All new to this so I don't have clue. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Berni, if you’re thinking about self-publishing, there are 2 websites I’ve used in the past:

  • Lulu
  • Create Space

Create Space is Amazon owned, so you get really good coverage if you release through them. Lulu are smaller and, in my experience, the quality is good.

If you look on their websites, you will probably find out more – they both provide FAQs and are quite informative. I expect you’d need to sign up and use one of their templates to create a proof of the book and then you will see how many pages would be required to print it.

If you’re talking about approaching publishers, then you’ll have to research what a publisher wants and format accordingly. I’m not overly familiar with illustrated books or the children’s market, as I generally write for adults, so I’m not sure I can help more than that.

I hope that’s helpful, but let me know if you have any other questions.

John P
Very helpful indeed. Thank you very much.

Chris Fielden
You're welcome John - glad you find the site useful!

Delores A
I write each day. I find writing poetry a way of living; but short stories not so easy. The first page is always excellent. I just don't understand my not going forward when it is all just bursting in my head.

I have about eight books started and put down. Yet a can stop a poem and start again as if my thoughts are just one continuous flow. Now why is this?

Chris Fielden
Delores, do you plan your stories and write with an end in mind? If not, maybe you should try it. It sounds like you're a starter and not a finisher. If you were to work out a plot and plan your characters before starting to write, you might find you are able to finish a story.

Poetry is different - it's more free flowing and artistic by nature. So treating poetry and short story writing in the same way doesn't necessarily work.

Every writer is different, so you'll have to experiment and see what works for you. But it sounds like planning a story out in detail might help you finish one.

I hope that's helpful!

Delores A
Hi Chris, thanks a lot. This is sound advise. I never think of the ending only the beginning and the flow to the middle, but always stop short of my plan.

Jennifer D
Hey Chris, I just want to let you know how grateful I am to you for putting this website together regarding short story competitions. It's really amazing.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much Jennifer :-)

Siobhan C
Hi Chris, I am interested in learning writing skills and gaining experience and have been searching online for some courses. The Writer's Bureau has popped up quite a lot and I spotted your name on some mail they have sent to me to encourage me to sign up for the course. I was wondering if you could provide me with some insight as to what the course has to offer and if you would recommend it.

Chris Fielden
Hi Siobhan, I did the course about 10 years ago now and found it very useful. I started with the non-fiction parts of the course and found that very helpful – it allowed me to see my first newspaper articles in print, which gave me experience with dealing with editors. After the course, I went on to publish my first book and see my short stories in print.

The course involves a lot of work and you have to self-motivate as it’s a correspondence course. As long as you’re happy doing this, in my experience, you will learn a lot and find it helps you develop as a writer.

I hope that’s helpful, but let me know if you have any more questions.

Siobhan C
Thank you so much for your swift reply. I will look into some of the further details and the course outline and hopefully I will be inspired. Watch this space... a budding author could be in the making...!

Chris Fielden
Welcome Siobhan! Best of luck with the course :-)

Maggie D
Have tried several times to subscribe to your newsletter - but although your site advises me to look for an email in my inbox, there has never been anything there. Is it something I said/did?

Maybe you could somehow add me by some mystical process?? Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Maggie, sorry about that!

I've added you to the list so you should now receive emails moving forwards.

Emily H
Hello, I'm a student and for my Extended Project Qualification at college I am creating a short story and poetry collection based around the concept of 'time'. I found your website incredibly useful in introducing the short story and the length it should be, however am wondering if you could give your opinions on the structure of a short story as well. Is it best to start in the middle of a narrative and explain past events as the story unfolds, or be more conventional such as a novel and start at the beginning? Also if you know of any short stories which address 'time' in an interesting way, they would be of great use to me for research. If you wouldn't mind saying also that you do not mind your opinions and thoughts being used in my project, with correct referencing of course, I would really appreciate it. Many thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Emily, I think story structure is down to the individual really – it depends what suits a story best. I tend to prefer 1st person in the present tense as it delivers a fast, engaging pace for the reader. In a short story, due to the low word count, you have to make good use of every word. While backstory can be very useful, it can be slow if overused – it can disengage the reader. Personally I prefer the here and now, using lots of dialogue to develop character and reveal the plot. Having said that, I have also written a number of short stories in the third person and in past tense. It really does depend on the characters, situation and plot. I usually advise writers to experiment and see what works best for them.

I’m not familiar with any specific stories about time, although I have heard of About Time by Jack Finney which I’ve been told is good, so you could try that.

You might also find my book How To Write A Short Story, Get Published & Make Money helpful too.

I hope that’s helpful. Let me know if I can be of any further help. And I’m happy for you to include my opinions in your project :-)

Bill A
Chris, my 90-year-old father-in-law has written a 700-word reminiscence about the time, 50 years ago, that he ate breakfast with Katherine Hepburn. I think it has a lot of charm. Can you think of any newspapers or magazines that might be open to publishing it? Many thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Bill, that sounds great! I don’t know of any off the top of my head, but you could start by looking through the lists on my site to find suitable places to submit.

The pages you need to look at are:

You could also try the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. It’s a UK publication, but has loads of up to date info in it.

I hope that’s helpful and wish you the best of luck with finding a publisher for you father-in-law’s work.

Bill A
Chris, very kind of you to write back so quickly. I'll take your advice and look through the lists.

John DC
Hi Chris

First of all I’d like to offer my appreciation and thanks for a helpful, fun and informative website. Secondly, I need to ask you a question:

I have recently completed a hybrid story. By that I mean it’s too long to be deemed a short story and rather too short to really be a novel (45,363 words).  I was told by an agent (you know how helpful they can be!) that as a ‘novella’ it would only be published as a special favour to an author with established commercial credentials as a forerunner to a ‘proper’ book. I was therefore wondering if you knew of any specific competitions for this genre.

Hope you have a great day!

Chris Fielden
John, thanks very much, I'm glad you like the site.

I've heard the same thing about novellas. I did see one published as part of a short story collection, but it was a collection by a well-known author.

The only novella competition I'm aware of is run by the Miami University Press. It closes in 4 days though, so you would have to be quick. I've just done a Google search and The Penny Dreadful came up, so it might be worth having a look at that too.

I hope that's helpful. There don't seem to be many novella competitions around. Hmm, a gap in the market maybe...!

John DC
Thanks very much Chris! I will let you know if I get any joy.

John DC
Hi Chris, just to let you know that I'm too big for either of their criteria. It's always nice to know that you're too big for something apart from your old school cap :) For your info here are their maximums.

  • Pennydreadful 35,000 words
  • Miami 40,000 words

My effort is 45,363, so I guess it's just a bloody short novel!

Chris Fielden
Hi John, you could always consider editing it down?

I've found that can make you think about what is needed and what isn't very carefully, which can sometimes improve a story. It's an exercise worth trying, even if it doesn't work.

John DC
Thanks Chris

One of the few benefits of age is that it has taught me to appreciate feedback :) Editing was my first thought: 1,000 words maybe, but 5,000 is a bridge too far; especially as I pared everything down to be deliberately minimalist in the first place. But I will have a look because I can see that such an exercise is always useful.

Many thanks again for your advice. Have a great day!

Best always.

Chris Fielden
Ha, true, age has limited benefits... :-)

Good luck with the editing!

Cameron G
Hello Chris, like your site. Must be a disease - I used to play drums but saw Guy Evans (Van der Graaf Generator) and it put me off, he was too good, my efforts seemed pointless.

Quick question. I have a very short story which I knocked out for a bit of practice for a local ghost story competition, limit 475 words so it's a bit compressed. Just finished it when a friend emailed re raising dosh for homeless people so I said "Wonder if we can make anything from this story?" Any ideas?

I write as a hobby so have never tried to make anything out of it but it would be good to help these people out if there is a way to sell it.

Good luck with your writing and hope you don't mind me bothering you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Cameron

Thanks, glad you like the site. And I know what you mean about drums. I find it very therapeutic though… :-)

You could try publishing it through CreateSpace and then donate all the proceeds to charity, but you’d have to market it well to generate sales.

It might be better to consider running a competition with an entry fee and then give any profit to the charity? Then you’d end up with an anthology with lots of authors in so you might generate more sales. That would be my suggestion.

Hope that’s helpful.

Cameron G
Hello Chris, thanks for the ideas. It would benice to do something useful. Thanks again.

Bob F
I was given your site address by an acquaintance of mine (maybe soon to be a friend!). I have only just found the time to glance through the home page, but I like its style so much that I am sure it has much, if not all, of the kind of help / recommendations that I need.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Bob :-)

Fawzia M
Hello Dear Christopher, I am from Kabul Afghanistan and love to write stories. English is my second language, but my passion and enthusiasm to write enocouraged me to write to you. I am would like to know about the story process; moreover, I am seeking to have some guideliness for initiating my writing. Therefore, I'm requesting you to help me regarding this. Thanks a lot.

Chris Fielden
Hi Fawzia, there are lots of free resources in the Writing Advice section of my website.

I have also written a book that you might be interested in that is packed with information. You can learn about that in the Books section of the site.

I hope that’s helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Dean D
Hello Chris, I have only just found your site. I also have your book on writing on my wish-list on Amazon, as I am going to treat myself to it at some point.

My question is on grammar, I am not very good at it but I am studying it, and looking to improve it. To write short stories, how good does one's grammar have to be? Would you suggest I study english grammar until I have grasped it.

The studying of it is driving me insane... Independant clauses, dependant clauses, comma rules (which I am sure I have broken here).

I guess what I am trying to say is, do you need to have A level plus in english? What standard was your english grammar & writing when you started?

Many thanks for reading this. Please help.

Chris Fielden
Hi Dean, grammar is important, as stories which are professionally presented are much more likely to be published or win competitions.

However, the story itself and the originality and engagement of the tale are more important. I don’t have an English A Level, or a degree, but I have had a lot of stories published.

So, I guess the advice is to make the grammar as good as you can (ask other people to proofread your work – that often picks up most mistakes), but remember that the story and the characters are actually the most important thing. If the story isn’t good, it won’t matter about the grammar.

I hope that’s helpful.

Dean D
Hi Chris, that is very helpful. As a side note, did you read and study english grammar books, and books on writing? Then put into practice. I know that reading lots of different books helps. I try and read at least one book per week.

Thank you for your words of wisdom.

Chris Fielden
Hi Dean. No, I didn’t read any books on it. I just use Google when I’m not sure of the correct grammar. You can usually find the answer to everything on the internet.

I did use an editing service when I wrote my first novel. That really helped, as the editor pointed out loads of mistakes so I learnt a lot from that.

Reading a lot does help – you can learn the rules from professionally edited books, so that is a good idea.

Dean D
Hi Chris, I was just wondering what correspondence writing course you did? Would you recommend them?

If you have the web-site or contact details, please forward them to me. .

Chris Fielden
Hi Dean, I did the Writers Bureau course. It was really good, but it was about 10 years ago now. They used to do non-fiction and fiction as part of the course and advised the non-fiction part first. I’d follow that advice – I did and it gave me experience of having my work published through local newspapers first. That’s a much easier way of getting published and gives you experience with editors before you embark on fiction. Things might have changed now, but it certainly worked for me :-)

Dean D
Hi Chris, yes I saw your success story - I thought you would of sent them a picture of a mullet, side & backview.

I phoned them, and spoke to a Diana. They have an offer on for this Black friday weekend, with £100 off. So, I think I will just go for it. I also have a book called The Creative Writing Course Book.

Chris Fielden
Hi Dean, not everyone likes the mullet pics. I can’t understand why…

100 quid off is a pretty good deal. I hope you get on well with the course and the book.

Gurpreet K
Hello, I'm a 32 year old woman. After building a career in sculpture and doing commissions on paintings through my website I'm thinking about creating mini guide books on watercolours and sculptures for starters. As there is no shortage of guide books on the same subjects, I want to teach my own created techniques.

Can you please guide me on how I can start? How much will I have to pay for 10.000 copies to start with?

Thanks and regards.

Chris Fielden
Hi Gurpreet. Given your experience, a guide on watercolours and sculpting sounds like a great idea. The best way to create books, that I’m aware of, is through Create Space. The costs are low and you can sell through Amazon easily. I’d suggest looking at that as a starting point.

I hope that’s helpful and I wish you the best of luck with publishing your book.

Gurpreet K
Thank you so much, Chris.

Hi, I'm sorry to bother you, my son is 14 years old and often sits and writes short stories and I find them very good and they have you hooked. I was wondering if you could give any advice as to were to start getting these out there. His aim in life is to be a film writer. Any advice would be great. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Kathleen, I list a few competitions on my site for younger writers which might be a good place to start. You can find the details here.

On the page, there’s a list of awards for young writers and children. I hope that’s helpful and hope your son sees his work in print :-)

Aran B
Howdy Chris, my query relates to polemic writing and do you happen to know of any competitions that cater to that.

I was caught on the hop, thought I had an extra day to finish a piece I was hoping to enter in Listowel, but, alas, it shuts today and I am waaaaaaaayyyyyyy off the pace for hoping to get it in.

That could very well be a blessing in disguiseas the subject material is quite risqué. It is a cutting, no-holds-barred, all-out assault on the Justice System in the US of A, in particular, the failed War on Drugs and the recent Ross Ulbricht case.

I can't think of anywhere to enter it.

Chris Fielden
Hi Aran, I don’t know of any competitions that specifically deal with polemic writing, but I have seen this type of subject matter published in regular competitions. So it is publishable.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being risqué – some publishers welcome this type of story. I’d just advise you to remember that the plot and characters are the most important parts of a story. I’ve seen writers trying to make a point before and they concentrate so hard on their argument, that the story suffers.

I often recommend Writers Forum as a good starting point. It’s a UK printed magazine with wide readership and they run a monthly short story competition. Max word count is 3,000. They publish many different kinds of style and genre, which is why I recommend them. So that might be a good one to have a look at.

I wish you the best of luck with getting your story published :-)

George K
"Well done Hawks. Well done. I will buy you all a cased of beer for that one." (Robert Duvall) GREAT SITE. Looking forward to the contest.

Chris Fielden
Thanks George :-)

Michael R
I agree with everyone else, great website.

Have been using it for a couple of years with some success.

I have just completed my last two short stories that are now in need of a good home.

This is the place to find that home so many thanks and best regards.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much, Michael.

Good luck with finding a home for those 2 stories :-)

Dave S
Hello Chris. I have to extend a big thank you. Via your site I submitted a screenplay to the L.A. Noire Tribeca Film Festival, and blow me down, they liked the work, posted me a top award, and will now feature my screenplay in LA on the 21 May. Never written or attempted to write a screenplay before, either. They want me to be there and are advising me to have my agent or any producers who might be interested to be also present - neither of which I have.

Again, lots of thanks, and keep it up.

Chris Fielden
Hi Dave

Congratulations – that’s excellent news.

Well I hope you enjoy the festival. I assume you’re going? Be great to hear what you think of it.

Annemarie A
Felt I couldn't continue to use your website without at least acknowledging all your invaluable info and advice on how to get short stories published in the UK and elsewhere. I have had 3 novels for children published, but I am also a keen short story writer and I use your website more than any other.

So thanks again!

Chris Fielden
Thank you so much, Annemarie. It’s always nice to hear that people find the site valuable – makes it all worthwhile.

Congratulations on having your children’s novels published :-)

Ken M
Thanks for all the great info on your site. But one problem I've encountered has me foxed, and I hope you can help.

One of my short stories has a word count of 3,561 on WordPerfect (I know, I'm an endangered species) and 3,564 on Open Office. But on MS Word, or .rtf, the count is 2,885, almost 700 (about 23%) different. Competitions generally have strict word limits. So what's the best way of staying within the word count number?

Hope you can help, and keep up the excellent site.

Chris Fielden
Hi Ken. No problem, I'm glad you like the site.

Hmm, well, the obvious (and probably unwanted) answer is to recommend investing in Microsoft Word... :-)

I believe the problem occurs with formatting. As an example, Word doesn't include a bullet point as a word. Other word counters, like some of the free ones online, do, which could be why you're experiencing a discrepancy.

So, I'd suggest toying with the other programs you're using to see if they are counting bullets, commas or anything else like that as a word. Free software often contains errors like this, simply because it's free so there's limited support available. So it might be best to invest in something paid for that's more accurate.

Joe H
Hi Chris, I hope you are well and the writing world is taking good care of you. I enjoyed the Mike Scott Thompson story and am getting joyously frustrated with the adverb completion, Its fun though.

I have several ghost stories written in the American gothic vein. One was published under Alex Reeves through Horror Fiction Books, and several others seem to be well received from people other than friends and my mom... Do you think it's wise to self-publish right away or give it some time and perhaps get lucky with a publisher? I have enough of a collection of shorts to do a sizable book.

I feel like I'm running around again with my demo and banging on the record company doors. Which is fine since I'm not stopping in every bar between. I've come a long way since my other submissions and am having more fun than I'd imagined, but would love to have a book to offer, the stories just keep coming.

Any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Joe, I'm good thanks. You?

Glad to hear you're having a go at the adverb challenge. We've had 8 stories now. When (if) we get to 20, I'll turn it into a proper competition and release an anthology with all the stories in when we get to 100+. So any submissions are welcome :)

I'd recommend submitting to any horror comps/mags first and then self-publishing. If some of the stories are previously published, it can help gain recognition. Check out Fiction Desk - they do a ghost story competition every year. Also try Chilling Tales for Dark Nights and Dark Tales (although I think they might have stopped the competition now).

When you're ready to sell on Amazon, I'd recommend CreateSpace as it's free and easy with a print on demand service. I'd then recommend doing Mark Dawson's free Facebook Ads course - that's REALLY useful. It teaches you how to grow an email list and sell your books. You can sign up on his Self-Publishing Formula website. That can help you make sales. I've just invested in his paid course and will let you know how I get on. So far, it seems great as it's tailored for authors and written by an author who has made it all work. Very inspiring.

Personally, I think self-publishing offers so much opportunity now, that the need to go down the traditional publishing route (get an agent, get a publisher etc.) is diminishing. You just have to be prepared to market your work, which takes a lot of time. But it's highly rewarding.

I hope that's helpful. Best of luck with it all and glad to hear the stories keep on coming.

Joe H
This is really helpful. Thank you Chris. I've been in touch with the Fiction Desk folks and will be submitting to them tonight. I appreciate your time and advice. Thank you very much.

Sam P
This may have been something you've covered on the site - good site, by the way - but what are the 'best' avenues of getting any kind of traction with short stories. Magazines and competitions are listed and I should probably take my continued failures in these areas as some sort of sign, but in a lot of instances it's simply that what I've produced is incompatible with the guidelines I'm faced with.

Persistence is important, I hear. So I don't know whether to just keep taking what I have done that actually fits and seems at least semi-reasonable and shopping it around to see if anything works or...I don't know. Smashwords, maybe. I hear obscurity is a killer, and I do have dark visions of me on my deathbed next to a big pile of stuff I've done that no-one else has ever seen and never will.

Again, probably life trying to tell me something. I don't know. At anyrate, anything would be greatly appreciated. Or nothing, it's all good.

Chris Fielden
Hi Sam, I think short story competitions and magazines are the best bet. But what most writers skip is market research. You need to buy back issues of magazines, or short story anthologies, or just read the stories on competition and magazine websites to see what style they seem to prefer. Then see if your style fits. If it doesn’t, tweak/edit it so it does. That’s the bit most people seem to get wrong.

The other thing you could consider is getting your work critiqued – having a second opinion can really help you improve your writing and make it more publishable. You can do that by joining a writing group. I belong to one in Bristol and certainly wouldn’t have had anything like the success I have without their input and support.

I offer a proofreading/critique service on my site, if that interests you. You can find the details in the Writing Services section of the site. I’m currently swamped with submissions to the competition I run, so my turn around time is a bit slower than normal at the moment, but there are plenty of other people who offer this kind of service. JBWB is good – I’ve used their services in the past.

You could also consider submitting to Writers' Forum. They offer terse feedback for a very reasonable price. I’ve found their feedback very useful. And they consider most styles and genres for publication which makes it a good target if your style is quirky.

Persistence is important. But so is gaining feedback, reviewing and editing your work so it’s more publishable.

I hope that’s helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing in the future.

Sam P
Thanks for a prompt response! A lack of critique is something of a persistent problem, given the only person I have is my wife, who my writing very clearly Is Not For Her (which is fair enough). I'd thought that there were no writers groups in town but it turns out I was wrong, which is nice, I guess. So there's that!

Market research shall follow. My current approach of being too terrified to consider it seriously isn't doing wonders for me. Should probably just bite the bullet. Baby steps. We shall see. When I'm a towering colossus of the industry I'll remember this moment. Or something like that...

Chris Fielden
Good stuff.

I find beer helps with being terrified. Although it’s best not to send anything to a publisher until you have reviewed it with sober eyes in the morning. Well… afternoon. Morning-hangover eyes aren’t much use.

Seriously though, I wish you the best of luck with it. Joining a writing group is a great way forward.

Itay L
Hello Chris, I found your wonderful and very inspiring website after searching the web for info concerning writing funny stories (story jokes).

I will be very thankful for any thought of yours for the following: I am currently looking to read/hear story jokes (fictional), that are built around funny situations.

I really tried finding such (seems easy, at first), but most of the story jokes that I was able to find were mainly built around a funny punch-line (at the end of the story joke), but didn't have a funny situation (premise), that makes the reader laugh along at the story, in addition to the end.

I would be very thankful to know if you know about any resource (web-based preferred) that might contain such short story jokes.

Thanks, in advance, for any advice.

Chris Fielden
Hi Itay. I’m afraid I’m not aware of any resources like that.

You might like the humorous short story anthologies I publish through my competition. They don’t really deliver punchlines as such, but many of the stories are very amusing.

You can find them in the 'books' section of my site.

They are only available as books though ( printed and eBooks), so not available online I’m afraid.

Sorry I can’t be of more help.

Rachael-Samantha H
Hi, I am really interested in becoming a writer. I've always had so many stories in my head but have never written them down. I know as soon as I start I won't be able to stop, so I never started. I would like to write. I've got so many ideas - mostly fiction - but it's deep stuff, not really humorous as such. I had a really good idea for a romantic thriller and penned a bit of a plan for it - start, middle, end - but just never got around to starting to write it. I'm quite good at thinking up short stories too.

I was looking at your competition online and wondered whether to enter or not. You might not be looking for my kind of writing style, I might not even have a style, I don't know. All I know is my imagination is wild and I've always wanted to write. Throughout the years stories and subjects to create stories have just popped into my head and I only recently started writing them down. When I was a child I used to write poems and short stories. I also loved to read. I just wanted a bit of advice and a few pointers on where to begin.

Thank you for taking time to read this.

Chris Fielden
Hi Rachael-Samantha. Well, it sounds like you should definitely try writing. When I started out I did a correspondence writing course through the Writers Bureau and found that helped me loads. Having ideas is one thing, but learning how to craft a great story from them is another. So you could look into that.

If you want to enter my competition, I’d recommend you read one of the previous anthologies to see if you think your style would fit.

Whatever contest you decide to enter, I always recommend reading past anthologies or magazines or the winning stories online so you can research a bit and see if your stories would be a good fit. Writers’ Forum is a great magazine. It’s full of tips and they run a contest which the judges always publish comments about. So that might be a good place to start.

I hope you find that helpful and wish you the best of luck with your writing.

Phil C
Hi Chris, I hope you're well.

I was wondering whether you could give me some advice. I have recently self published a collection of short stories on Amazon, via Kindle.

I am having real problems trying to get it up the search list, despite having quite a few reviews now, basically when you put the title of my book into Amazon I can't find it.

I have had numerous conversations with the Amazon Tech boys but it is not helping, and I am getting more and more frustrated.

I really thought putting my work on Amazon would open up doors for more people to read my writing, but it is not proving the case, because people can't find my book.

Could you help me?

Chris Fielden
Hi Phil. Selling on Amazon is hard and takes a lot of marketing. There are a few ways of approaching this that help generate sales.

Enrol your book in KDP select. Make sure you tick all the boxes that allow people to share the book for free and lend it to others. This can help you gain exposure.

I give away the first 12,000 words of my ‘How to Write a Short Story’ book on my website. This allows readers to see if it appeals to them before they buy it. You can see how I do that in the ‘books’ section of my website. I’ve also built an email list which I use for marketing purposes too – giving special offers etc. Offering a free sample helps you build a list.

KDP select allows you to run special offers, so you can offer your books at reduced prices, or for free (I rarely do free offers as they don’t count towards sales on Amazon). I usually do mine for 99p/99c. I then send the offer out to my email list of around 2,000 subscribers. That boosts sales for a short time and gives the book exposure.

To put it into context, all this work generates (on average) 1 or 2 sales a day. But, that does mean that you can find my book when you search for it.

I’ve also started doing talks at literary festivals and for writing groups. That’s a good way of generating more sales as up to 50% of the audience will buy a book after an event. It also gets my name out there and earns me a bit of money. I think that’s the best long term way to sell books. You sell at events, and then later because more people become aware of your name.

You can also try Facebook advertising. I did Mark Dawson’s video course. You can learn more on his Self Publishing Formula website – a Google search should bring it up. There is a free taster course (or there was when I did it) that was really useful, so you can see if it’s for you. The paid one is also brilliant and it gives you an entire business model for writing and selling books. So it’s worth investing in.

I just did a search for ‘The Tube’ on Amazon in the Kindle store and your book came up. I notice there is only a very basic product description on the book – I’d strongly recommend working on an enticing product description and an author profile for Amazon UK and USA. This can help sales.

You also need to try and get more reviews from people who have actually purchased the book. There are only 2 from verified purchases. This is really difficult, as people do seem allergic to reviewing books. Having an email list helps, as you can ask your audience if they will review your book for you after running a special offer. That’s how I got some of my reviews.

So, long story short – simply putting your book on Amazon isn’t enough. You have to invest time into marketing it to give it exposure.

I hope that’s helpful and wish you the best of luck with your book :-)

Ellen E
Recently I contacted you to ask your advice. I wish I'd done it sooner! You were so helpful and the mention of your name resolved the problem very quickly!

Not only is the site a great resource,  it is run with integrity.

Thanks Chris!

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks Ellen. I'm glad I was able to help :-)

Robin G
Ace website. Bought How to Write a Short Story and loving it. Quality products!

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Robin - very happy to hear that you're enjoying my book :-)

Wayne H
Oi, Fielden! Just finished reading your book How to Write a Short Story... got to say, I really enjoyed the honesty and openness throughout, as well as the usual wit, really good examples and advise. It's comforting to know that other people are in the same boat, even if sometimes it feels that boat is the Titanic and it's being captained by the Demon of Doubt.

Thanks for writing this warts and all account of your experiences and I shall continue to use it to reinforce my faith...or level a table or something.

All the best, Wayne

Chris Fielden
Oi, Hewitt - no problem at all. It's great to hear you liked the book. Yeah, that demon is a pesky bugger. He should be placed on his own Titanic, while the writer in us gloats from his iceberg.

I wish you the best of luck with your writing mate :-)

Shohreh P
Dear Christopher, my name is Shohreh, I'm from Iran. I live in Sweden now. I'm trying to help a friend of mine that is a young writer in Iran, to publish his work.

I found you through searching on Google. I would like to know if you can help me with publishing my friends short stories. Of course he writes in Farsi, but I've translated one of his short stories into English. I'd be grateful if you could help me.

Chris Fielden
Hi Shohreh. I receive lots of requests like this and I can’t help with publishing short stories, I’m afraid. I'm not an agent. The writer will have to enter competitions or approach publishers themselves. You can research how to do this on the competition and magazine lists in the Advice section of my website.

A lot of research is involved with successful short story submissions. Usually a writer will pick a target market (a specific competition or magazine), research it, by buying back issues and seeing what style of stories they like, and then writing with that market in mind.

If the story is already written, you’ll have to undertake this process, looking for publications that are after the style, genre, theme etc. of the story. I often recommend Writers’ Forum as a good magazine to start with as they accept a wide variety of styles and genres into their short story competition. So you could try that.

Your friend could also try one of the writing challenges on my site. You can see if any of them are suitable by looking at the Challenges section of my website.

Sorry I can’t be of more help, but I hope this information is useful.

I wish you the best of luck with getting your friend's story published.

Jerry W
Hello, Chris. Resigning myself to the disappointment of rejection by the judges of your last contest (or maybe it was the contest for the year before), I consoled myself for a period in my usual, sensible, mature way. But I'm sober again now, and ready to give writing another shot.

Just a note to say that I've applied myself to the task with renewed assiduity, but I've still not found a better website than yours for resources and advice. You've been working hard, my man. Well done, and thank you.

Don't feel obligated to respond to this. Just congratulations and best wishes for continued success.

Chris Fielden
Thanks Jerry, very much appreciated.

Ah, the joys of running To Hull And Back... I can only select 20 stories each year, and it's incredibly tough as I receive 100s of excellent stories. Most magazines and competitions are in the same boat, so please don't take rejection personally. If it helps, I receive many rejections as a writer too. One simply has to grow a skin as thick as Godzilla's :)

I wish you all the best with your writing - glad you're back the pen.

Kim K
Just came across this website. I think it's fantastic!

Good work on creating this wonderful resource for writers and aspiring writers. This will now be one of my favourite places to visit! It's so refreshing to come across writers trying to help others. Thanks so much.

Chris Fielden
No problem, Kim - thanks for your kind words. I'm really pleased to hear you like the site :-)

Janet S
Dear Chris, This is a query rather than a comment.

Some time ago, you published a list of editing services that you had heard good things about, including comments by those who had used them. After communicating with several, I recently began sending a manuscript of an historical novel to one. In the beginning, the editing was very helpful. But it turns out that the editor and I have such differing viewpoints on presentation of historical material in fiction, that I’m having doubts and am looking for another service.

Do you know anything about Literary Consultancy? They seem to have a large number of very qualified editors, but I’m wondering if their sheer size makes them a factory.

Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Janet. Sorry to hear about your experiences with your editor.

I've liaised with The Literary Consultancy about listing their competitions (in those communications, they seem very professional) and they're pretty active on Twitter, but beyond that I don't have any experience with them I'm afraid. And I haven't heard anything about them from my users either.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

If you do work with them, please let me know how you get on :-)

Janet S
Thank you, Chris. I will certainly let you know about positive experiences as well as less positive.

Chris Fielden
Great, thanks Janet :-)

James A
Thanks for all the tips, Chris. Your book, as I've said before, is great - it's really got me going on competitions and magazines which I'm sure is the way to go. You've convinced me. There is too though an almost completed manuscript of a novel which some day (if I have any success with comps/mags) I'll send to an agent. One big problem with it (probably loads, but I mean that I'm aware of) is that agents want you to state a genre. I don't want to say 'literary fiction' as that sounds a bit precious and a bit of a turn off. The novel centres on a crime, a bank robbery, but at least 90% of the book is lead in to the robbery, it's character based fiction, slow build up - I can't find other modern books like that, though it pretty well describes quite a lot of 19th century fiction. I've thought about 'Lad lit' (but the style is wrong), 'Caper novel' (seems to deal with bank robberies with the crooks as protagonists, but in a light, jokey way, mine is no joke), 'Urban fiction' (suitably vague, it's set in a city, but not sure it's quite gritty enough) just 'Crime' (but that seems to focus on a detective/the 'good guys'), 'Coming of Age novel' (but in their late 20s the robbers are a bit old), and 'noir' or 'urban noir'. The problem with that is that 'noir' seem to be pacier than my book, plot first and character second, whereas mine is the other way round. I guess the obvious thing to do is make it fit with a formula, but I like it like this! Anyone got any ideas? It would be hugely appreciated. Thanks anyway, and thanks Chris. ).

Chris Fielden
Hi James. Great stuff, glad you liked the book and that you’re trying out competitions and magazines.

That's a tough one. Personally, I'd go with something people can understand, like Crime, and then in your covering letter explain (briefly) why it's hard to pigeon hole and that it could also be considered for other genres. Ultimately, the strength of your writing will determine whether an agent or published would be interested. And whether it's a style they are looking for.

I'd also recommend trying platforms like Wattpad. You can gain feedback and might get ideas about market focus there. You can also try novel competition. That might work - a lot of those aren't genre specific. Inkitt is good one to look at - that's based on readers and how they interact with your story, so could be a good one for you to try. You can check that out here.

I hope that’s helpful and wish you the best of luck with your submissions.

James A
Brilliant, thanks a lot Chris! I'll check out Wattpad and Inkkit. Really useful information.

Glad to hear that the competition was such a success this year!

Chris Fielden
No problem, thanks James :-)

Grace G
Hi Christopher. I'm a student at Exeter University studying English Lit and doing a dissertation in creative writing. I was just wondering if you had any tips on building character through the voice of someone else (my main character is absent throughout my collection of short stories).

Many thanks.

Chris Fielden
Hi Grace. Interesting... just to make sure I understand, you have a book about a character that isn't in any of the stories in the book? Is that right?

That would be quite challenging. I guess you could do it via flashbacks/memories. Or conversation, with characters that are in the stories talking about your main character - telling stories about them.

There are a variety of methods you could try. Is there a particular reason you have chosen this approach? Or is the main character dead or something? A bit more explanation might be useful!

Elthea S
Just finished reading your book on how to self publish with CreateSpace and Amazon. Thank you for writing it. I hope to publish my first book by using your instructions. My editor knows how to use the format but she said she had to learn the hard way.

I have three questions:

  1. Can one get in and out of Createspace and save their work until they are satisfied with it all and is ready to get a writing proof copy?
  2. Can I save the book template on my computer for future use? My editor gave me a copy of the template but says I still have the book incorrect. I am not sure if it is word or her template that she sent me or she is just saying that to me. She is very opinionated.
  3. So selling a book in a book store is forbidden once it is created in this format with CreateSpace?

Thank you for taking the time to write the book and I was amazed at how cheap you are selling it. I hope to start the short stories and will also pass your website on to some friends that are very serious about writing.

Chris Fielden
Hi Elthea. Thank you for buying the book - glad to hear you liked it!

In answer to your questions:

  1. Yes, you can upload your book as many times as you like in CreateSpace. You are able to make changes at any point. You can even do so after you have published it, by releasing a second edition.
  2. Yes, you can. It's best to download the template from CreateSpace before you start. They have different templates for different books sizes. I always use 8" by 5", but there are many choices. Once you have the correct template, you can use it as many times as you like.
  3. You can sell the book anywhere you like. If you want to enrol your eBook in KDP Select (this allows you to use Amazon's sales tools) then you have to sell it via Amazon only. But you don't have to do that - it's entirely up to you!

I hope that's helpful and I wish you the very best of luck with publishing your book :-)

Elthea S
Hi Chris, thanks for the instant reply to my questions. You are a saint and I look forward to following you more closely, with hopefully some short stories and buying that book.

The book I am writing is in for a second edit and no doubt will need a third. It is about an American and Irishman love story in a tiny village in Ireland.

Thank you again. It is nice when I fellow writer is willing to share their expertise without their ego getting in the way. I hope I can give back like I have received in life, from those willing to just share life and not be beyond caring for others. Thank you again.

Chris Fielden
Hi Elthea. No problem – happy to help.

Good luck with your editing!

Rahul S
It's really awesome... a very helpful site.

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Rahul :)

Michael B
Wow! I've been looking for a website like this for about, well, a million years, and then I find it by accident. But isn't that just the way? Thanks, Chris

Chris Fielden
Thanks, Michael. Accidental discovery is often the best way to find things... :-)

Sean B
Hi Chris. I have recently bought your short story book and downloaded the free taster course. I am now very interested in the silver or possibly the gold comprehensive writing course and would like to know about the payment and if it is available as a monthly instalment or a one off payment.

Thank you for your help.

Chris Fielden
Hi Sean. Thank you for your enquiry. And thanks for buying my book and enrolling in
the free course - very much appreciated.

At the moment I only have the courses set up for single payments. I believe I can set up monthly payment plans in Teachable (the platform I use to host the course) so if you want to do a monthly payment plan I can look into sorting that out for you. I just haven't set one up before and don't know how it works, so you might have to wait a few days while I look into how to do it!

Let me know if you'd like me to do that - happy to have a look as it may be of interest to other people thinking about signing up too.

Sean B
Hi Chris. That sounds great. I’ll wait as long as it takes to sort out the finer details ie amount per month payment method etc. Very much appreciative of your help and I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Sean. No problem – I’ll try and get this sorted over the next few days. Will give you a shout when I know more...

Oh, A quick question. I’m thinking of doing a 3 month plan – so 3 payments over 3 months. Would that help your situation? Or would a 6 or 12 month plan be more helpful?

Sean B
Hi Chris. I would prefer a 6 or 12 month but an option for any of the three would be beneficial to those wishing to enrol in your course. Also I was wondering how long the course is? Really appreciate all your help with these matters.

Chris Fielden
Hi Sean. OK, thanks for sharing your thoughts – very helpful.

You can do the course at your own pace, so you could get through all the videos and information quite quickly, I guess. It’s the practicing, doing the exercises and writing that would take the time. I would imagine 6 months would be a sensible amount of time to allow, especially if you’re having critiques etc. They take time to produce (up to 6 weeks as they are carefully considered), and then you have to give yourself a decent amount of time to consider them thoroughly and make changes. So 6 months to a year is probably a sensible time frame to be looking at. As this is so new, I can’t be more precise sorry!

Hope that helps and thanks again.

Sean B
Hi Chris. Thanks for the estimate on timescale I was hoping it would be that. When you have all your info i’d like to enrol into the Silver course.

I look forward to hearing from you and starting the course. Many thanks for all your help.

Chris Fielden
Hi Sean. No problem! I’ve added 6 month payment plan options to the course now, so you should be able to see them on the site. I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Stephen L
Hi Chris

I just want to thank you  for your book on short story writing. I found your approach pragmatic, insightful and honest. I’ve been writing but not finishing for much of my life, and have recently turned to the short story. My first story was shortlisted for Writers’ Forum; my second won second prize (to be published in June/Issue 212). This is in part thanks to you and hence this message to express my gratitude. Cheers from Bangkok!

Chris Fielden
Hi Stephen. That's awesome, mate - congratulations. Really pleased to hear that. I hope it's the first of many publishing successes for you!

Paul M
Chris, following your superb course, I just wanted to share the fact that I have had some small publishing success by finishing second in the July 100 word competition for Morgen Bailey. It's a fun competition to do with a different theme each month. I am having a go at longer word competitions too! (Sorry about the exclamation mark).

Chris Fielden
Hi Paul. That's fantastic news! (I used one too - give the circumstances, I think it's acceptable.) Congratulations.

Let's hope that's the first of many successes for you :-)

Paul M
More good news, Chris. Following the results of the Doris Gooderson competition, I found out that my story, 'Hope', had been short listed. At least, I hope (no pun intended) it was mine as there was no list of names other than the first three prize winners. Only the story titles were mentioned.  So good news - I hope. (Pun intended).

Chris Fielden
That's awesome news, Paul, thanks for letting me know. Congratulations! You're getting quite a portfolio of success together now.

I'll look forward to hearing more good news in the future. I'd work on those puns though... :-)

Tiffany HW
Your challenges inspired me to try writing during lockdown and I am thrilled to have just been awarded 2nd prize in the International Human Rights Art Festival. An old dog can learn new tricks with the right tuition - thank you and your colleagues for such an amazing resource. 

Be safe. Tiffany

Chris Fielden
Hi Tiffany. That's fantastic news - congratulations :-) Thanks for sharing it with me - very much appreciated.

I'm pleased to hear you've found the site helpful and the challenges inspiring. It's great to hear success stories from writers and to have played a small part in their journey - makes it all worthwhile.

I wish you the very best of luck with your writing and hope this is the first success of many for you.

K. E. H
I am seeking short story contests or publication. I am also looking for someone to buy my movie script for a feature film, or a movie script contest.

If you know of any that allow email submissions and don't charge a fee, please give them my mail address. Thanking you in advance, Hart

Chris Fielden
Hi Hart. Thanks for your message.

I'm afraid submissions to contests and other publications don't work like that... you will have to research competitions and publication opportunities and see which are suitable for your writing style.

I list hundreds of different publication opportunities in this section of my website. I wish you the best of luck with your submissions :-)

K. E. H
Thanks for writing me back. I am constantly researching for email submissions. I thought that because you are in the business, you may have known of someone offhand.

I have an iPad that doesn't print and doesn't do PDF or other files. I didn't know this when I typed my movie script and short stories. Looks like they're all going to be stuck in my email forever.

But, thanks again for writing. Hart

Chris Fielden
No problem, Hart.

You should be able to copy and paste the text in your email into Word, Google Docs (or any other word processor) and produce PDFs from there. Hope that helps :-)

Barbara G
Hello Christopher, I see in your book that you give your writing to family and friends to get feed-back. Although sometimes I have wanted to do this I never have. Books that I have bought on writing have advised against it. Has there been any occasions that you regretted doing this?

I bought your book a few years ago and I'm afraid I put it away along with other self-help books that started off so promising for me.

While looking at your website I saw your book. (I have to confess it was the wonderful cover that made me buy it.) Now I am reading and enjoying it with a fresh insight and enjoying it and I hope  this could be the one to help me on my long and weary journey on writing and getting a story published.

Chris Fielden
Thank you for your message, Barbara. And thank you for buying my book. I'm glad to hear you like the cover and that you're enjoying reading it.

I've never regretted using family and friends to proofread. My father is particularly good at picking up typos and grammatical errors, so I find it helpful. Family and friends will often be kind in their feedback when reading stories by someone they know, so I wouldn't recommend only using them - you also need some objective feedback from experienced writers and readers that will give you constructive criticism when they don't like something or they spot mistakes. But there is no harm in using family and friends, in my opinion. Just be aware that they may sugar-coat their feedback.

I hope that's helpful. I wish you the best of luck with your writing journey :-)

Susan R
I would like to take your free course. I don't know how to log in. Please email me at the above address. Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Susan. Thank you for your message. To take the free course, you have to sign up and create a login. You can learn how to do that here.

There's a big button at the top of that page that says 'Enroll in Course for FREE'. If you click that, you will be able to get started :-)

If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Emma K
Beautifully written content. I'm really glad my friend had forwarded the link to your website. I'm looking forward to delving deeper. Thank you very much for your generosity in sharing your learning and tips.

Chris Fielden
You're welcome, thank you Emma :)

Ian M
Dear Chris, you may recall that the text message I sent you last summer complaining about your website. I took a peak today to see if it was still here. Bold as brass and in my face it still exists. 
I have spent a long time over the winter patiently painting the letters and numbers back in on my keyboard with Tipex. You are personally responsible for me spending hours everyday submitting my stories to millions of magazines and getting a few published. My finger tips are close to the bone. Can I put a claim in?

Today I see that you have a lot more on your website than I realized. It goes on forever. There is so much stuff that is amazingly useful that I feel I have to read it. The campervan thing for example. Like OMG, I'm in the throws of getting one and doing exactly what you are.

I will leave it at that for now . If I write more you may think I was trying to sneak in a short story submission through the back door before the 1st of July.

Thankyou again for a great site.

I have just finished my own website from scratch. I would love to monetize it. Perhaps you could take a peak and let me know what you think. I have average 30 views a day. Not 300. 3000 or 30.,000. 30!!

Kind regards, Ian

Chris Fielden
Hi Ian, thanks for your message.

I'm sorry to hear my website is proving to be such a useful menace and apologise for all the time you've lost as a result. I have a spare keyboard if you want one. Regarding claims, please speak to my lawyer, the right honourable M Lawless of Dewey, Cheatham, & Howe. They'll sort everything out for you.

I'm glad to hear about the campervan - that's fabulous news. Welcome to the mobile writing club. And congrats on your website. It looks marvellous.

Regarding monetising it, I've found the easiest way is to use Google AdSense. That will start generating you income straight away, but it will be small amounts until you build your readership up a bit. You can also look at affiliate work. The best starting place for that is Amazon's affiliate program. As you develop your site, I'm sure you'll develop relationships with other businesses. If the focus is writing, MasterClass is a good one, and so is ProWritingAid. You can sign up to both their affiliate programs quite easily.

I hope that's helpful and sets you on the right path. All the best :-)

Ian M
Hi Chris, thank you most kindly for your detailed reply and indeed for your time. It's very much appreciated.

I am onto your suggestions and will look again at turning my words into pennies. This time next year I hope to have sold the campervan I haven't got yet and travel and write in a moderately priced super yacht. 

Thanks again, Ian

Chris Fielden
You’re welcome, good sir. The affordable super yacht plan sounds splendid. I wish you the very best of luck with it.

Julie S
Hi Chris. Wow, what a website - I have spent so long reading that I'm not doing any writing! (Oops, I just ignored the exclamation mark advice). Like many aspiring writers, I have been despondent and frustrated by rejections and silences and ended up thinking - why am I doing this? I realised it's because I enjoy it, and I stopped worrying about being published. I'll keep writing and sending out stories, not expecting a response, taking the pressure off myself.  Your pleasure in writing comes across strongly, and we all need  to remind ourselves sometimes that this is supposed to be fun.

Thank you so much for an inspiring and informative site.

Chris Fielden
Thanks very much, Julie. I shall forgive the exclamation mark just this once... :-)

That's absolutely the right approach. Keep having fun with words. The "being published" will happen when its ready to happen.

I'm on the admin team for a writing group on Facebook that runs regular writing challenges. You'd be welcome to join that if you like.

All the best to you.

Shayne V
My son Connor has been extremely interested in writing books since he was about 7-8 yrs old. He's now almost 12 and has increased his interest writing micro short stories every week. He opted to use his souvenir money for vacation last month to buy a chrome book to use for his stories. He really enjoys it. Can you suggest a direction for us to help him develop his interes? Thank you.

Chris Fielden
Hi Shane. Thanks for your message. It's great to hear that your son is interested in writing.

There are many creative writing courses he could consider. If you do a Google search for "creative writing courses for kids" or similar, many come up.

The other thing he can do is get involved with competitions and publishing opportunities aimed at young writers. I run a writing challenge for children that might be of interest. And I list many other writing opportunities for kids.

I hope that's helpful, and I wish your son all the best with his writing for the future.

Edmund C
News that the You Write On website is about to be revived. I submitted my email address to be contacted when it's up and running.

Chris Fielden
Thanks for letting me know, Edmund - much appreciated :)

Ogbonna C
Thank you sir for providing such a space that appreciates talent in a wonderful way, this is really the opportunity I've been searching for, but I want to know how I can enter the competitions.

Chris Fielden
Hi Ogbonna, thank you for your message.

Each competition / publishing opportunity featured on this website has its own rules and submission guidelines. You can learn how to enter each contest by visiting the website of the outlet you are interested in submitting to. Most of them accept entries from anywhere in the world, but some don't - details will be in the rules / subs guidelines for each competition. Basically, you have to take some time to research the different opportunities and see which ones appeal to you. Then follow their rules / subs guidelines.

I hope that helps and wish you the best of luck with your submissions :-)

Pauline H
Hi Chris. Just a rather belated thank you for the excellent workshops that you ran recently at the NAWG Fest.I thoroughly enjoyed them; your delivery style was relaxed, humorous and informative, and  I enjoyed your story, which I think was from Alternate Afterlives.

What a gem this website is...and in the words of Arnie..."I'll be back!" Regards, Pauline

Chris Fielden
Hi Pauline, thank you for your message - very much appreciated. It was lovely to meet you and all the other NAWG members at NAWG fest. All the very best to you :)

Liz H
Hi Chris, your website was recommended on my OU English Lit and Creative Writing BA. It feels like an important bridge between the academic study of writing and the reality of being a writer and makes me feel it might be possible to cross! Thank you. 

Chris Fielden
Thank you for your kind message, Liz - it's greatly appreciated. I wish you the very best of luck with your writing in the future. All the best to you :-)

Irvin D
Submitted a novella recently to a publishing house. I did not want the contract. I asked what happens to my submitted manuscript and their reply was just that no more contact would be forthcoming. Was I right to expect a reply?

Chris Fielden
Hi Irvin, thanks for your message.

It depends on the publisher... they are often swamped in submissions (they can receive thousands) so try and avoid ongoing contact with authors they aren't working with. Sometimes they will have an FAQ on their website that deals with common questions of that nature, so it might be worth looking for that. Most publishers will simply destroy / delete manuscripts they are not working on.

If it was a vanity publisher you're dealing with (any publisher that asks you pay towards the production costs of your book), then it might be different. I don't have much experience with them. There are plenty of reputable firms in this niche, but there are some that misrepresent what they offer. You can learn a lot more about that here.

I hope that helps, Irvin. Let me know if you have any other Qs.

Irvin D
Thanks Chris, just strange I didn't get a straight answer! Not a vanity publisher!

Chris Fielden
No problem, Irvin. If they offered you a contract, then yes, that is a little odd. Oh well, I guess you won’t be approaching them again :) All the best to you.