Call for puppet show scripts with eco-oceanic themes

Marionette shop, Prague cr Judy DarleyCommonwealth Resounds are seeking an original 45-minute script to engage audiences with the challenges facing the world’s oceans.

The deadline for submissions is 15th February 2020.

This open call comes via Commonwealth Writers and aims to connect a writer from the Commonwealth to work in collaboration with the Young People’s Puppet Theatre, the Commonwealth Resounds, the Purcell School for Young Musicians, and the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

The chosen script will be interleaved with original music by exceptional high-school-age musicians, and performed with string marionettes in London and Hertfordshire in September 2020. “The selected writer will develop the script with guidance from professionals experienced in scriptwriting for puppetry.”

The ocean theme should include one or more of the issues currently being tackled by the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups:

  • Coral Reef Protection and Restoration
  • Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods
  • Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (marine plastics)
  • Marine Protected Areas
  • Ocean Acidification
  • Ocean and Climate Change
  • Ocean Observation
  • Sustainable Aquaculture
  • Sustainable Blue Economy
  • Sustainable Coastal Fisheries

In the first instance Commonwealth Resounds invites you to provide a summary of your proposed storyline and a description of the characters in the play, within a maximum of 500 words.

This must be submitted by 15th February 2020, and the preferred storyline will be selected by the end of February. The script will need to be completed by the middle of May 2020.

The selected writer will receive £250 on completion of the script, covering the production in September, and a further £250 royalty each time the script is used in a subsequent production. (For clarity royalties are paid per production, not per performance of a production.)

Find full details and links to useful guidelines on scriptwriting here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Writing prompt – flock

Bird bath by Judy DarleyI recently happened across an advert for a beautifully crafted artificial bird, designed to be fixed onto tree branches. It felt a little like a dystopian future where all wildlife is made of metal or glass and skies are populated by fake birds with recorded song piped in. I’ll admit, it gave me a bit of a shudder.

The birdbath pictured above sits in a local Victorian cemetery, and to me fits into this idea. How would it feel to be the last remaining real wren whose best friend is sculpted from stone?

How can you make this dystopian story idea into a utopian or at least hopeful tale?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Short story – Stealing from Windowsills

Laugharne Castle tower interior by Judy DarleyMy short story Stealing from Windowsills, which I wrote at the Flash Fiction Festival 2019 has been published by the marvellous Thin Air magazine. Based on a traditional fairytale, the story began life in a flash workshop at 2019, but swiftly outgrew the form.

Likewise, my character Zel has, I believe, outgrown her inspiration.

Here’s Zel, introducing herself from her tower room:

My mirror shows me my imperfection – my wide nose as dappled as a hooded crow’s egg rather than grandly hooked like Mother’s; my eyes large and dark, unlike Mother’s fine bloodshot glints.

My wild, long hair is almost a separate creature. I pretend it is a pet, one that purrs, neighs, and, on rare instances, bites. I bunch, braid and tint it sea-dragon green with the ivy and other plants that shimmy up the stonework to meet me.

You can read the full story here.

How to make the unreal real

The Time Machine by H G WellsWriters are often advised to write what they know. Over time this has become prescriptive: write only what you know. If you are a white, middle-aged man, you can write only from the perspective of a white, middle-aged man.

And yet it’s as reading that we gain access to the interiors of other people’s lived experiences. Why shouldn’t the same be true of writing? After all, isn’t a good imagination one of the key qualifiers for becoming a writer?

Often this requires sufficient research to make our portrayal as honest and respectful as possible. Occasionally it warrants immense leaps of creativity to invent and evoke an experience, and carry our readers along with us for the ride. Surely, our raison d’être is to lead the way on flights of fancy!

H.G. Wells achieved this with ease when he needed to supplement his income as a freelance journalist by writing and selling fiction (now, there’s a flight of fancy!) in 1895.

Ricocheting from an idea already being debated by students at the Royal College of Science that Time represented a fourth dimension, Wells published The Time Machine in 1895. After a rather ponderous start, this novella powers into a dizzy story that seems to draw from impressions of sea-sicknesses, fevered dreams and inebriation.

“The night came like the turning out of a lamp, and in another moment came tomorrow. The laboratory grew faint and hazy, then fainter and ever fainter. Tomorrow night came black, then day again, night again, day again, faster and faster still. An eddying murmur filled my ears, and a strange, dumb confusedness descended on my mind.”

Continue reading

Writing prompt – snow

Snow on shelter by Judy DarleyI love this photo of a shelter covered in snow. It feels like a metaphor for so many things. For one thing, aside from the clumps of snow above, the manmade tunnel leads towards, or away from, beautiful blue skies.

For another, as shelters go, this one is pretty pathetic, mainly due to the fact that its main purpose is not to shelter pedestrians but to prevent us jumping onto the railway tracks below. Any yet, while rain and wind slip through, snow is suspended, at least until it thaws.

What possible narratives does it seed in your mind?

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

Curtis Brown Creative courses for aspiring writers

Notebook and pen cr Judy DarleyAs the new year gets underway, why not rev up your writing skills? Curtis Brown Creative, the creative-writing school run by Curtis Brown Literary Agency, is inviting applications for an array of writing courses aimed at aspiring novelists, with London-based and an online options to choose between.

There are also lower-priced online ‘taster’ courses to give you the chance to work out if this is the right approach for you, or if you’re not ready to take on the full time and financial commitment required for their longer courses.

Learn to edit and pitch your novel, or get to the end of that all-important first draft, get insights and hands-on help from successful authors and experienced editors. The creative writing school was launched in 2011 and remains the only one run by a literary agency.

Upcoming courses include the chance to learn to writing and edit short fiction with award-winning short story-writer Cynan Jones, starting on 30th January, and a six-month online novel writing course with authors Lisa O’Donnell and Andre Michael Hurley, starting on 17th February. Deadlines for applying for these particular courses are 27th January for the former and 26th January for the latter.

“I’m proud to say that over the past few years, many of our alumni have gained deals with major publishers,” says Curtis Brown Director Anna Davis. “Some of our former students have written international bestsellers, others have won prizes and several more have gained representation with literary agents and are working to edit their novels for publication. Yet more are still working away, often with the support of their former Curtis Brown Creative cohort. It’s great to see how many of our alumni stay closely in touch with their student groups long after their courses end.– have seen more than fifteen students secure book deals with major publishers and several others find representation.”

Find full details of upcoming courses here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Writing prompt – fate

Pebble man by Judy DarleyImagine this strange scenario – amid the pebbles embedded in the top of a low wall, you spy the painted face of a man. It just so happens that this is the visage of a man who will steal the heart of someone close to your protagonist.

Is he to be trusted, or not? How did his face come to be painted onto that pebble? What baggage does he bring with him? Is your character’s friend or sibling or parent or child destined for joy or grief? Flex your imagination and use your literary powers to decide their fate.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I may publish it on SkyLightRain.com.

My new role as flash fiction editor at Reflex Press

Sears Tower bird by Judy DarleyI’m excited to share the news that I’ve been appointed Flash Fiction Editor at Reflex Press.

I’ll be managing all the flash fiction submissions submitted for publication on the publishing house’s website. I’ve already received some fantastic submissions and am eagerly anticipating plenty of other mini masterpieces!

I want to read work that moves me, startles me, and, most of all, makes me think: ‘Wish I’d written that!’ A skilful flash fiction writer can condense a whole novel into a paragraph, and leave you feeling you’ve absorbed a whole novel in a few moments. I’m hoping to discover entire worlds coiled into a few carefully chosen words.

Find full details here: https://www.reflex.press/introducing-our-new-flash-fiction-editor-judy-darley/ 

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2020 Short Story Competition

Beautiful skies, Victoria Park cr Judy DarleyThis annual competition is one of my favourites on the literary calendar. There’s no theme for you to base your story on – all you have to do is make sure you’re registered with the website www.writersandartists.co.uk, that the subject line of your email reads ‘W&A Short Story Competition 2020‘ and that you send it to waybcompetitions@bloomsbury.com.

Your story must be no more than 2,000 words long. The closing date for entries is midnight on 13th February 2019.

The winner of the competition – along with two runners-up – will be announced on the W&A blog pages in March 2020.

Entry is free, but don’t forget to register before submitting your story. Continue reading

Writing prompt – shrine

Shrine by Judy Darley2I encountered this shrine in a Thai jungle.

Consider the scene of devastation. Who might have placed the shrine here, and why? What were they guarding against, and what could have resulted in this disarray? What spirits might linger here?

Weave a myth of good versus evil or ancient values versus new, and see where you end up.

If you write or create something prompted by this, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com to let me know. With your permission, I’ll publish it on SkyLightRain.com.