"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood

BRIDGET WHELAN

A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Wicked Young People's Writing Award

GOOD news that there is a new national competition for British writers between the age of 5 and 25 -- no other competition has anything like that range and I especially like the Gregory Maguire Award, a special category for 17 to 25 year olds.  The task is to re-work an old story, give it a new slant - just as he did when he wrote Wicked from the perspective of the wicked witch of the west from the Wizard of Oz.  

I often set an exercise along these lines in class.
Last term I used Hansel and Gretal because I wanted to explore K
urt Vonnegut's advice: you should start a story as near to the end as possible.  

Every student was told where to begin their tale...such as
  • alone in the forest 
  • finding the gingerbread house
  • Gretal shoving the witch into the oven
It was great fun and instructive, but what stands out for me is a student who was asked to start her version when the step mother urges the father to abandon his children. 
The wicked caricature of fairy tale was transformed into a powerless and vulnerable woman 
trying to save the children from the real danger at home - a violent and authoritarian father. 
It was powerful writing but I have a horrible feeling that the student might miss the 25 year old age limit by a whisker. 
Never mind, good writing is good writing, even if it doesn't fit into a competition category

2 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

Hi Bridget - I've hopped over from Vanessa Gebbie's blog to pick your brains about grants.

You mentioned you didn't have a publishing track record to speak of yet you secured a grant? Do you think you could have managed to get funding without having an agent though?

I live in NZ now but I was just wondering about the whole grant application thing.

I haven't got an agent (yet) or had any of my novels published but I'm building my cv with short fiction/poetry in journals etc. I'm currently writing a novel which is requiring a lot of research and is costing me to write...I think it is an important book on a number of levels and there are lots of good reasons to write it...having a rare ramble here...anyway - do you think it's worth a shot to ask the appropriate funding body here in NZ directly? I seem to be lost between countries at the moment - neither regarded as a proper NZ citizen or a British one.

With regards to your current blog post - what a great exercise...I'm not sure what my views are on age bracketing for competitions - it's beneficial for younger writers definitely to have a category which recognises them aside from other older/more experienced (perhaps) writers - but I tend to think good writing's good writing, regardless of age...anyway, great post.

Bridget Whelan said...

Great to hear from you. I think it's worth asking advice from potential NZ funders - either over the phone or in a face to face meeting if they would be willing to spare the time. You could ask if you were at the right stage to submit an application and if not, what kind of additional information, supporting material would they require. Are you involved in any writers' organization? If not, join or even think about setting one up. Being part of a wider community and sharing information was and is important to me -- I think it is true for most writers.
Is there anyone who is familiar with your current project and can write in support of your application? (And carries some weight...!) I was able to ask my agent - who was already demonstrating his commitment i- and Lavina Greenlaw who was my inspirational tutor during my Masters.
Good luck