10 out of 10 – meet the Furious Fiction superfans!

Back in February 2018, the Australian Writers’ Centre introduced Furious Fiction – a brand new short story writing competition where your 500-word story could win $500AU cash every month – with no entry fee whatsoever!

Needless to say, the competition (open to anyone 17 years and over, anywhere on the planet) immediately struck a chord with writers here in Australia and overseas. As the past 10 months have unfolded, we’ve judged more than 6000 stories and given away a total of $5000 cash. Ka-ching!

Naturally, with such a “nothing to lose, everything to gain” competition like Furious Fiction, the fan club has continued to grow bigger and bigger. But one group that has become smaller and smaller has been those who have entered EVERY month. So to mark the 10th month (and their perfect 10/10 entry attendance), we invited them to share what they love about the contest…


EN Blake (Queensland)

Connect via adjectiveplusnoun.wordpress.com

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I was very intrigued by the idea of a time-limited short story competition. I’d seen competitions like that before, but none of them were free to enter, so I always talked myself out of entering. When I heard about Furious Fiction, I was intimidated, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity; and I’m so glad I didn’t.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
Proving to myself every month that I’m getting closer to being a ‘real’ author. I’m putting in the time, I’m making the improvements, and I know that if I stick at it, I’ll get where I want to be.

Furious Fiction has made me write in genres I’ve never tried before, made me develop more experimental short stories than I would have tried on my own, and in general grown my confidence in my writing, and the range of perspectives and styles in which I would consider writing.

How have you managed to enter every month?
After about the second month of entering, I developed a system. I don’t always stick to it, but it helps me overcome any last-minute anxieties that would convince me not to enter.

On Friday, after I receive the Furious Fiction email, I brainstorm. If any ideas jump out at me, I write them down without thinking about them too hard. This stage is about exploring various directions I could take the prompts, not about judging the value of what I have. (I once accidentally wrote a short story that implied a man had romantic feelings for an elephant. I wish I had an excuse.)

On Saturday, I choose the best option I came up with, and I write it into a short story. I try to flesh out characters and scenes, to sharpen any dialogue and provide a twist ending that leaves readers intrigued. I might write two or three stories, or two or three versions of the same one. It really depends on how strongly I believe in the option I choose.

On Sunday, I look over my entry, make any tweaks for clarity, and submit it.

Have you had any close calls?
Absolutely. I’ve almost not entered once or twice; I’ve had events that conflicted with the first weekend of a month. I’ve felt like nothing I had to say for the prompts was original enough to win. I’ve doubted my writing style and ability, and I’ve reconsidered writing at all. In the end, I just enter anyway. I trust that the people judging the writing won’t care if my story isn’t the best. I don’t always think that I have a chance of winning, but I enter to prove to myself that I can, that I want to, and because I know the practice is good for me and my writing, whether I win or not.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
Just do it. You’ll realise that you’re capable of more than you thought, that 55 hours is plenty of time to write a short story, that prompts and a time limit work wonders for creativity, and that inspiration can come from the least likely of sources.  


Robyn Noble (Northern Territory)

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
When the first Furious Fiction was announced I felt it would be a fun and non-threatening way to increase my writing skills. I had entered some of the weekly competitions and this was another step. I was excited in the lead-up, determined during and left with a sense of achievement on completion.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
It’s fun, especially working the criteria into the story and trying to do that in a unique way. A locked door, a girl laughing and the words ‘it felt familiar,’ turned into a story about a big concern of mine; plastic and the harm it’s doing to our world.

How have you managed to enter every month?
I found getting an early start Friday night helped, but that wasn’t always possible. One Sunday morning I had no idea what my story was going to be about let alone have any words on paper. My word count was closer to 300 than 500 that month, but at least I wrote something. At that point I realised I had set myself a challenge to enter every Furious Fiction this year.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
We have all heard the motivational speeches saying ‘Just do it’, while the voice in our head says, ‘Yeah right, its okay for you, you’re rich, famous, don’t have 3 kids, I can’t possibly do it!’

I hear that voice often, but this was a challenge I set myself. I know i’m not talking about jumping out of a plane, diving with sharks or giving away all my worldly goods to live in an Ashram, but after pushing the submit button, I could say ‘I did it.’

(Robyn won the January 2019 round of Furious Fiction.)


Carly Mitchell (Victoria)

Connect via carlymitchellwriter.wordpress.com

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I am notorious for procrastinating when it comes to my writing. Making 40 cups of tea, deciding to clean out my wardrobe, falling into a void of cartoon theme songs from the 80s and 90s on YouTube… You name it, I’ve done it. So it’s always nice to have something that has a deadline! 55 hours, a few prompts and the chance to actually complete a piece of writing. Love it.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
The prompts are a great way to really get your brain bubbling (which sounds weird now I’ve typed it, but trust me it’s a good thing!). Sometimes you might sit there thinking, “I have no idea how to work this word/sentence into my story” but it makes it all the more fantastic when you have that breakthrough and manage to weave it in seamlessly. And there’s always the anticipation and hope of making the shortlist – or actually winning! I haven’t experienced the excitement of that yet but fingers crossed one day.

How have you managed to enter every month?
When the comp started I set a challenge for myself to try and complete a story each month until the end of the year, just to see if I could do it! I figure it’s good practice for me and I can reward myself with copious amounts of Christmas shortbread at the end of it LOL.

Have you had any close calls?
There have been one or two close calls where I haven’t been able to think of anything to write until the last minute. And I think one story may have been a couple of hundred words over the limit one month and I sat there staring at the computer screen willing the words to edit themselves! (Spoiler alert: that didn’t work.)

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
Definitely read the winning and shortlisted entries each month because 1) They’re awesome and 2) You get to see the type of ideas the judges are enjoying. It’s also a lot of fun to branch out and write in styles or genres that you’re not used to, just as an extra challenge for yourself.


Michael McLoon (New South Wales)

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What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I was attracted to Furious Fiction by the challenge to exercise my imagination.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
I like participating because it forces me to make the effort to compose.

How have you managed to enter every month?
Fortunately I’m now retired and have the time to devote to writing.

Have you had any close calls?
A couple of the topics really taxed my imagination – the picture of the elaborate table setting caused me the most difficulty.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
My tip for all entrants is not to procrastinate – as soon as you know the rules, set your imagination in train. Once you are happy with your story get it written so you have plenty of time to edit.


Sarah Jackson (Victoria)

Connect via sarahjacksonwriter.com

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I liked being part of a national project with other writers of similar background and experience.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
I enjoy the writing exercise element of it. By writing to a strict word limit, and being given criteria to write on, it forces me to consider how I assemble a piece (structure/narrative flow), and what style and genre I use. Let’s face it, when I eventually get a publisher to accept my writing, I’m going to have to re-write great swathes of it to fit their expectations.

How have you managed to enter every month?
Planning and effort. Doesn’t matter what your job is, planning is essential if you wish to meet deadlines. And you need to make the effort. After all, you can’t win the lotto if you don’t buy a ticket.

Have you had any close calls?
Two. One month I was very sick and barely able to get out of bed, and on another occasion I had a lot of non-writing work on, and very little time. That’s were the “effort” part of the equation came into play.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
Give it a go. It’s not hard, and it’s kind of fun to see what you can come up with.


Jackie Zonneveld (Queensland)

Connect via thewritingenigma.wordpress.com

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I came across Furious Fiction by accident before its launch. I had never entered my writing into a competition before and liked the idea of the challenge.

What do you like best about participating?
I love the fact you’re on a short deadline and the set criteria really makes you have to think outside the box to keep the story engaging in so few words.

How have you managed to enter every month?
Lucky I guess. Despite my studies this year, I still managed to find time to get my entry in.

Have you had any close calls?
Yes, last month actually. Our internet, and even the Foxtel, suddenly dropped out on the Friday night. By 10pm Sunday (Queensland time) I realised that with an hour to go I was either going to have thumb the story on my phone or try to ‘hotspot’ my phone to my Mac. Thankfully the hotspot worked and I got my entry in on time.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
Don’t ever think your writing isn’t ‘good enough’ to enter. All writing is good practice to help build confidence and improve on skill. Just give it a go, because you never know!

(Jackie was shortlisted in the June 2018 round of Furious Fiction.)


Ray See (Queensland)

Connect via @rayseewriter on Twitter

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I was attracted to Furious Fiction by having guidelines and a deadline to write to. I had done this previously for work but never in my creative writing.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
As someone whose preferred genre is crime, I like how the monthly guidelines have led me into crossing genres and writing everything from romance to sci-fi to comedy.

How have you managed to enter every month?
Probably because of the encouragement that I have received from the other writers along the Furious Fiction journey and members of the So You Want to Be a Writer Facebook group.

Have you had any close calls?
After about 4 or 5 months I was really down in the dumps that I hadn’t been shortlisted and was about to give up writing, but the members of the So You Want to be a Writer group were so supportive that I thought I would keep going.

The next month I happened to be working Friday night, Saturday and Sunday and nearly didn’t bother, but because of that support I submitted a story about five minutes before the cut-off time.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
The best advice I can give is to read the Furious Fiction archives on the Writers Centre website. You can read what the guidelines were for each month and then read the winning and shortlisted stories to get an idea of what worked with the judges as well as reading some great short stories.


Belinda Grant (Victoria)

Connect via @belindagrant80 on Twitter

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?-
It was free! And I liked the containable nature of it, it seemed like a short-story comp I could enter without taking too much time from my other writing.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?  
I love the initial fun of getting the criteria and coming up with a creative story concept.

How have you managed to enter every month?
Seriously? I am not a perfectionist! I just do my best and not every story I have entered has been as polished as I liked, but the exercise has still made me a better writer.

Have you had any close calls?
There was one month where my story idea just didn’t really work. I almost didn’t enter, but I pushed on and while it was probably my weakest story, I was still proud I got it in.

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
I think my method works really well.  Brainstorm Friday, write Saturday, then polish it up and make sure every word is perfect on the Sunday. Not always possible on a busy weekend, but that is my aim.

(Belinda was shortlisted in the June 2018 round of Furious Fiction.)


Amanda McLeod (Australian Capital Territory)

Connect via @AmandaMWrites on Twitter

What attracted you to Furious Fiction?
I love that it’s such a fast turnaround – 55 hours isn’t long to write, edit and submit something! It’s also great to hear the results so quickly. It’s also amazing that AWC offers free entry and such a great prize – it makes the whole competition so accessible.

What do you like best about participating in Furious Fiction?
The little sets of criteria for each month have really kept me on my toes. They make me think outside the box and stretch me creatively – like yoga for my writing brain.

How have you managed to enter every month?
As soon as I see the Furious Fiction email, I push everything else to one side and focus on that. If I have enough time to let the idea take shape in my head first, it really flows when I sit down to write it.

Have you had any close calls?
In September when I was moving through a whole bunch of different time zones, I nearly missed the deadline because of a miscalculation!

Do you have tips for new Furious Fiction entrants?
Be ready and waiting for that email to come. Generate a whole bunch of ideas, then dismiss the really obvious ones and try following the obscure paths – they usually lead to the best places.

(Amanda won the August 2018 round of Furious Fiction.)


 


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