The best place to start this blog lark is with a quick explanation of its title - why 'Scallops'?  
It came to me in a dream:  short stories are like scallops!  Similes and metaphors don't usually come to me in my sleep, I wish they did,  but on this occasion  I had watched rather too much of Hell's Kitchen before bedtime.  At some point, the wannabe chefs had competed to free perfect scallops from the gelatinous mass inside the shells. Craggy-faced Gordon was not pleased if any scallops had been spoiled in the process which, of course, most were.

A short story should also be small and perfectly formed:  it is the result of the skillful cutting down of a large, slippery concept in to a small, firm morsel of art.  As a writer still learning her craft, I know how easy it is to mutilate a good short story.  But I am hoping I'll get better with practice and - fingers crossed - that'll happen before my face turns too craggy...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Auntie's Short Stories

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Godbless BBC Radio 4. And I'm not the religious type, but it truly is a saviour for us Brits abroad. Anyway, check out the readings of the shortlisted finalists of the National Short Story Award 2011:

I've just listened to Rag Love by MJ Hyland, a tale of two lovers with a plan to have sex on a luxury cruise liner.

As a listener, I was underwhelmed. The characters and their relationship lacked depth, their 'plan' was trite, the ticking clock didn't generate enough tension...and my biggest issue was the bland description of the luxury liner. "A perfect blue rectangle" described the pool and "two chairs and a glass coffee table" described the penthouse. There were several other examples too dull to remember. And, for something set in Australia and in the 1960s, there wasn't enough detail to justify these setting choices. My final thought is that the story didn't contain anything especially profound in the words or the theme, I thought - it had resolution but no resonance, for my taste at least.

But the esteemed panel of judges saw something in it I didn't. Unfortunately, there are no comments about the story from the judges, so I guess we'll never know what floated their boat.

p.s. 'Auntie' is the nickname of the BBC. Ain't that quaint?

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