Thank you to everyone who entered our first open writing competition.
We had a little shy of 700 entries – a good mix of poetry and short fiction – which we thought was a fantastic response! Thank you to everyone who helped us to spread the word – it was massively appreciated.
The launch of our next issue and the prize giving for the competition will take place at The Barbican Library, Silk St, London, 16 July at 7pm (doors open 6.30). Pencil this date in your diaries – in fact write it in in thick, black biro! There will be readings from contributors to the magazine, as well as the winners of our competition.
Reading the notice above, I’m reminded of our new nudge because it’s full of adjectives – ‘open’, ‘good’, ‘fantastic’, ‘massive’, ‘thick, black’ – if it was a poem or story I was writing then I wouldn’t know where to put my face! It’s a good job it’s a notice!
Move away from the adjective…
They give our writing colour and emotion, they aid pace and tone, fill in the gaps… but sometimes (oftentimes) they can weigh it down, direct the reader to respond in a specific way (a kind of emotional mugging), they can blind us with images or, worse still, they pad out the text.
Today I read a poetry submission to Brittle Star. It had only 22 lines. In the first 16 lines there were 26 adjectives – it was, for this editor, far too many, and a poem that had a really interesting idea nestling in its heart was subsumed by the Adjective. It deserves the capital A. All curses deserve title case.
This doesn’t mean to say that all adjectives are bad and that we should avoid them like the plague, but just that the adjective should work hard – at least as hard as you’re working to write the piece, and as hard as a reader works on reading it. When Eliot wrote ‘I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas’, the
evocation of isolation and dissolution is enhanced by the adjectives ‘ragged’ and ‘silent’– but they don’t carry all the weight: the location, the plaintive, desperate, wishing of ‘I should have…’, the ‘pair’ attached so firmly to the ‘I’ which gives us both a couple and an individual, the disembodied claws… these all add to that sense of isolation.
Our new nudge, then, is a challenge: Move away from the adjective…