By Lovonne Campbell

Tauranga Writers Sunday Focus 16 September 2018, 2 – 4pm @Greerton Library

18 people in attendance

Note: There will not be a Sunday Focus in October (Labour Weekend)

Instead, we will have stalls for:

  • Books from Our Own Backyard 19thOctober
  • Focus on Women Expo 27/28 October

Volunteers are needed to help with these stalls. Please contact Tauranga Writers (Gillian Cook: if you are available.

The Focus session ‘On Writing the ShortStory’.

Our planned presenter, Sue Emms, author, editor and manuscript assessor was unwell and not available to take the session but thankfully for us our gracious Jenny Argante stepped in. Jenny and Sue Emms have worked closely together and founded the Waiariki Institute of Technology online Diploma in Applied Writing course and the Short Story module. Jenny is an author, literary editor, proof reader and Tauranga Writers’ stalwart. Jenny used Sue’s notes to which she elaborated eloquently.

What Judges Want…..

The short answer: well-written and well-presented stories.

Whether writing a short story for a competition or for publication the same undertaking is necessary.

There is a specific outline and careful reading of the instructions is paramount.

Presentation is important and shows you can follow the brief.

If these specifics are not followed “the ref will blow his whistle and send you off”.  A judge will not bother to read your story.

Editors and judges are only interested in words and any distractions e.g. varying fonts, footnotes, or decorating the page in any way – “plain can never be wrong”.

A plan can be beneficial, but doesn’t suit everybody.

Start straight into your story. Don’t waste time or allocated space with a preamble

Life incidents that seem little at the time can be made into a story by delving deeper into this snapshot in time.

All big events affect people – real people in real situations, this could be your story.

Rules are general and serve one well, but sometimes it can work when one follows their own instinct.

When describing a character don’t waffle on about hair or smile or dress unless it is pertinent to the story. Hordes of attributes are not needed just a clear idea. Personality is more important than appearance.

A character must be interesting to be likeable.

Instead of saying ‘she was angry’ use words to show, for example ‘she slapped his face’. This is an important technique.

Using words endingwith ‘ing’ can slow the pace of the story – use ‘ran’ not ‘was running’. Use short, sharp words and then can change the pace for effect.

Grammar is important and for basics even reading a children’s book on grammar can be helpful.

Learn the craft of writing as relating to whatever genre one wishes to work in.

Take a break before reviewing and editing. Reading too soon after writing and your thinking is coloured by what you were imagining and feeling. Returning to a story even a few hours later will most likely show up anything that needs working on.

Clarity and flow will always make for readability. It is always the writer’s fault if a reader doesn’t understand.

Review and edit at least three times.

After a tea break the meeting resumed with a reading of the short story Death by Scrabble written by Charlie Fish. The main character wasn’t particularly likeable, but was definitely interesting.

Handouts were given, including an exercise on Creating an Outline of a Story. By working through a series of choices we can then develop the rough outline into a treatment and script.

Due to time constraints, this exercise to be completed at home. A short comment will be given to all who follow through and send their story to Jenny:

Read, read, read, read, read.

Helpful Writing Guides can be found on the Tauranga Writers website at:

The well received focus session ended shortly after 4pm.