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This Week on Writers Abroad 25th April
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad ex-pat writers writing

We are now 17 members and there’s a lot going on onsite. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep up, so apologies if I have missed anything important below.

Jill is on a roll and is a very worthy occupant of the Bragging Stool this week with a longlisting in Exeter Writers Short Story competition.

Inspired by her recent trip to Las Vegas, Nicola has supplied this week’s Monday Muses, with prompts based on Sin City and a great photo of what I presume is the Grand Canyon. Plenty to get the imagination going there.

Sally has written this week’s Blog Post, an interesting analysis of the exclamation mark and when it should be used. Some think it’s over-used and it’s certainly on the increase in emails and texts.

I will be posting up the May Challenge soon with a variety of competitions to whet your appetites. If you fancy some incisive critiquing on a piece that you plan to submit somewhere, now is your chance. And comments are always gratefully received. In the meantime, the April Challenge is still open with some pieces for critiquing.

I will also post up the minutes of yesterday’s Formal Chat. We had a lot on the agenda, including important items about the magazine’s publication and marketing and the timing of our formal meetings. Watch this space for some possible changes to the latter. Jo has also started a forum to capture ideas about the proposal to offer Honorary Membership to former members.

Jo has updated the Planner, so please have a look and see when you are down for your share of the tasks.

Have a happy and productive writing week.


Exclamation marks

                                               The Exclamation Mark

A little while ago in the Today program on BBC 4, I fleetingly heard that there was a serious move to restrict the use of the exclamation mark in schools.

Horrors! Not sure if any of you are at all like me, but I reckon I use it far too often.

Let’s see …

The main use of  the exclamation mark is to end sentences that express:

An exclamation (!)


To show strong feeling such as anger, surprise, joy etc.

Sugar (!)

Good heavens!


In direct speech that represents something shouted or spoken very loudly ..

Watch out!


Non question sentences beginning with ‘what’, ‘how’

I say, how smashing!

What a great group we are!

Something the writer finds amusing or ironic ..

Health and safety have banned hanging baskets on railway stations!

Or even in brackets ..

He finally(!) got the joke.

Often in quoted speech .. for the above, presumably.

It is to be discouraged in any kind of formal writing. Are we formal writers?

And found mostly in informal writing such as emails and texting. Hence, perhaps, the cautionary note for schools. Exclamation creep!? Sometimes, in Very Informal writing two or three exclamation marks may be used ..

Wow! Cool!!!

Actually, I find myself reasonably on track in my use. Except that sometimes my emails seem  infested with them, and I’m exclaiming all over the place. Bit like Mrs Bennet(!) So they lose their power.

Definitely not cool!!! 






Is entering competitions worth it?
Category: Writing
Tags: writing competitions

Why we enter writing competitions. The obvious answer is to win them. Some competitions offer the winner(s) a cash prize, some offer other prizes, such as books or vouchers, some offer the gift of exposure, whether it be on a website or in an anthology.

But do we do it for the prizes? Unless you’re hoping to win the Sunday Times EFG short story award (£30,000) or the BBC National Short Story award (£15,000) I think the prizes we win come secondary to the recognition of our work. The fact that someone will have read our work and said: “Yes, I think this is great. In fact, it’s better than all the other entries.”

How do you decide which competitions to enter? I base my entries on two things: word length and cost. I know that at the moment my strength lies in shorter pieces. This is mainly due to lack of time to write longer pieces and the fact that I have more experience writing shorter pieces. Therefore don’t enter anything above 1,000 words.

Also, I have a budget and don’t enter anything above £5. I know this means there will probably be a higher number of entrants, but this is the risk I have decided to run. If I start winning some bigger cash prizes, I can put this money into the competition kitty and start entering more expensive competitions.

And do you write to the competition, or do you have a piece ready and find a competition that suits? Recently I did both. Writing Magazine was looking for pieces of 750 words and I had a piece that was about 100 words over. Thanks to the help of several WA members, I trimmed it and entered it. I also entered the MASH competition. Here you have no choice but to write to the competition as they give you three words to include in your story.

But entering competitions is time consuming. Is it a worthwhile effort, or is it just ‘professional procrastination’?   

(I've scheduled this and hope it pops up on Monday. I'm going to be in hospital having a back operation, so not sure how quickly I'll be able to respond if you leave comments. But please do, as I'd be interested to know how other people think about this!)


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Monday, April 25, 2016
This Week on Writers Abroad 25th April
Recent Blog Posts
Exclamation marks
Posted by Sally Robinson

                                               The Exclamation Mark

A little while ago in the Today program on BBC 4, I fleetingly heard that there was a serious move...Read More

Is entering competitions worth it?
Posted by Laura Besley

Why we enter writing competitions. The obvious answer is to win them. Some competitions offer the winner(s) a cash prize, some offer other prizes, such...Read More

Linger Longer
Posted by Crilly

The words ‘Linger Longer’ might suggest a bed and breakfast in Brighton but today they are very relevant to this blog!

Consider how...Read More

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