Author Mark Smith to judge Write Around The Murray short story competition

FESTIVAL GUEST: As well as judging short stories, young adult novelist Mark Smith will lead workshops and speak on panels at this year's Write Around The Murray.

FESTIVAL GUEST: As well as judging short stories, young adult novelist Mark Smith will lead workshops and speak on panels at this year's Write Around The Murray.

Short story writing is a delicate art where it’s best not to over-describe, according to Mark Smith.

“The way I think about it is someone opens a door, you see what’s inside the door and then it closes again,” the author said.

“And what happens when the door’s open, that’s your short story.”

Smith will test his theory when he judges this year’s Write Around The Murray festival short story award.

Open to writers Australia-wide, the competition offers a $1000 prize for the best entry of up to 3000 words on the theme of refuge.

A smaller form of fiction will also be assessed in the nano competition for people who live within 150 kilometres of Albury.

These stories must be 50 words exactly and include the word life.

Details for both competitions are available at writearoundthemurray.org.au.

Smith said short story writing remained his first love and the form offered opportunities into publishing for emerging authors.

His own path, which includes multiple short story prizes and now two novels The Road To Winter and Wilder Country, reflects that.

“A great piece of advice that I got at that stage, you need to be the writer that publishers are asking themselves why are they not publishing you?” he said.

“When you get published, it’s like you’ve been lining up outside a night club for five years and suddenly they open the door and let you in and everyone inside is really nice.

“It’s really surprising but it’s great.”

The head of a residential school campus on Victoria’s surf coast, Smith finds inspiration for his young adult fiction close at hand.

“I was really interested that a lot of that 13 to 17 year old age group weren’t reading, so I tried to encapsulate in novel form the sorts of stories that they’d be interested in,” he said.

“Number one, you had to be able to write a page turner, something that didn’t give them the opportunity to go back to their screens, basically.

“As soon as they think you’re preaching to them, they will drop you like a hot potato, they’ll put it aside.

“They’ve got to have an investment in the characters and they’ve got to feel as though that they’re there with them and they’re watching their backs all the way through.”

  • Write Around The Murray will be held September 5-9

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