6 December 2023

Calling all budding writers!

The Gazette and Seaside FM have once again joined forces to relaunch our annual writing competition – which, this year, is in memory of much-missed columnist and broadcaster Andrea Burn.

Andrea, who died aged 62 in January, was a passionate advocate of storytelling and enthusiastically promoted the writing contest, A Thousand Words – which we are renaming the Andrea Burn Short Story Prize in her honour.

We are looking for stories of about 1,000 words in length, on any subject you choose, so get your thinking caps on! Your story must not have been already published elsewhere.

As Andrea once said: “When I am writing or telling a story, I often approach it a bit like making a cake and ask myself which essential ingredients I need to make it good; to hold the reader’s attention and make it stand out? Of course, stories need structure: a great beginning, middle and ending, but there are other key ingredients that any good story should have.”

Andrea’s top tips:

  • A great plot: the idea for your story. Consider the setting (it could be contemporary, historical, futuristic, etc); the characters and what motivates them. What genre is your story – thriller? Crime? Comedy? Romance? Remember: who/what/when/where/how.
  • The story arc (sometimes called the narrative arc): the shaping of your story that provides the structure, without which the story can ramble. The narrative arc provides tension and pace, rise and fall and is what keeps the reader turning the page as the plot is established, unfolds through a series of highs and lows and resolves.
  • The central character (protagonist): remember, it doesn’t have to be human; it could be an alien or perhaps an animal or a fantastical creature. Most of my own writing and storytelling is character driven. I am fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Your story can be written through the eyes of your central character (the first person) or as seen by a minor character (the third person), but it is your central character who will experience the highs and lows of the plot and with whom you want your reader to connect.
  • The first paragraph should hook the reader straight away and draw them in; introducing the characters, setting and what conflict may drive the central character.
  • The climax: where the tension in the plot comes to a head – the page turner! Your main character will have to face an obstacle to whatever it is they are seeking: our hearts should be racing… what will happen next?
  • The ending (denouement): the tension in your story dissipates. Your reader can breathe a sigh of satisfaction that the plot is resolved.
  • Have fun and enjoy writing your story. Be creative and get involved with your characters so that the reader believes in them.

John Harding of Seaside FM said he was looking forward to reading and hearing entries for this year’s competition.

He said: “We cannot wait to see them! I know Andrea loved reading through them and enjoying the creativity of so many in the Holderness area. Please double-check spellings and grammar, though – we could always rely on Andrea’s keen eye for that!’

The prize

The winner will have their story published in the Gazette on Thursday, June 8, and it will be narrated and broadcast on Seaside FM. What’s more, the winner will receive a £20 book token and two tickets to the Driffield Show on Wednesday, July 19.

To be in with a chance of winning, preferably email your entry to [email protected] and mark your subject line “Andrea Burn Short Story Prize”.

If emailing, please email a title page with your contact information and the name of your story. The title of your story must also appear on both posted and emailed entries. Please add your name, address and daytime telephone number and the name of your story on a separate sheet of paper (postal entries).

Postal entries should be typed and double- spaced on one side of the paper only and sent to Andrea Burn Short Story Prize, the Gazette, 1 Seaside Road, Withernsea HU19 2DL. Only emailed or typed entries will be considered.

The closing date has been extended to 5pm on Monday, June 5, 2023.

No correspondence will be entered into, and the judges’ decision is final.