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short story Blog Posts - The Open College of the Arts

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short story

‘A cloud that just lands’ thumb

‘A cloud that just lands’

A short story is a slice of life, so it needs a narrow geographical location and a small number of characters.  It takes work to produce the 500 to 6,000 words that ‘explore a mood, a pregnant silence, a seemingly mundane scenario that’s somehow charged with significance’ – novelist and broadcaster Marcel Theroux’s description of […]

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Something else altogether thumb

Something else altogether

Writers are defined by the genre in which they write and publish. Novelists – Martin Amis and George Eliot.  Poets – Sylvia Plath and Rupert Brooke.  Biographers – Claire Tomalin and Lytton Strachey. Labels constrain. It’s important for writers to find out through practice the genres in which they write well. Equally important is the […]

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Threads entwined thumb

Threads entwined

This is a post from the weareoca.com archive. Information contained within it may now be out of date.   Earlier this month, OCA creative writing student Matthew J. Fisher’s short story Ma’s Kit made it to the shortlist in the Wordhut.com 7th Short Story Competition.  The story is published on his website, which, along with his blog, went […]

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Koumpounophobia thumb


11am Saturday morning: fear – of what to write, of whether any words will come, of writing well enough; of reading aloud scribbled sentences to a critical audience of strangers. 14 writers are gathered in a room in Ilkley, the top of the moor just visible through the window, on the second day of the […]

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Non-writing thumb


It’s not always the case that writers have to produce draft after draft of a short story, as OCA creative writing student Guy Barriscale found when he wrote his prize-winning story ‘Jamesy’ in just one sitting. Prompted by an incident in this childhood, the story came to him fully formed when he saw an old man pushing his bicycle up a hill in a rural part of County Leitrim, with additional ideas for the life of gthe central character being inspired by his speculations about the lives of three farmer brothers. Commended in the Seán Ó Faoláin competition in 2011, the story was published in the Munster Festival’s ‘Southword’ at the beginning of 2012.

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Good beginnings: the best of Saki thumb

Good beginnings: the best of Saki

I have just re-read ‘The Lumber Room’, a short story by the former Burma police officer H H Munro, who wrote under the name of Saki. More than 30 years after having the story read aloud to me when I was 15 years old, its language and tone are still vividly familiar, even though until […]

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