Creative Writing in Bridport

You’d be forgiven for getting confused. We have an Open Book event, we have Page to Screen, we have the Bridport Prize (literary) and we have Bridport Literary Festival… Is it any wonder that this town attracts writers of all genres and styles? (We like to think we’re a creative lot here in Bridport.)

So last night it was the turn of the Open Book Event organised magnificently by Frances Colville, which kicked off with a short story slam at the gorgeously atmospheric Beach & Barnicott on South Street, just opposite Bucky Doo Square. There were three judges (Nick Macey, manager of Waterstones Bookshop, Gail Aldwin, short story writer and myself) one MC (novelist Laura James) and lots of writers – so names had to go into a hat.

We eventually heard 12 stories of up to 5 minutes long with due judgerly deliberation after each section. There was fantasy and there was satire, there was comedy and there was pathos, there was excellent presentation all round as twelve writers had their names plucked from the hat, came to the stage and gave it their all.

Us judges were struck by the variety and range of the writing, the confidence of delivery and the multitude of voices we heard in those 12 short stories. It’s always hard to judge. Do you focus on technical merit over story and content or is a story which makes you laugh better than one that makes you sad? Do you forgive changes of viewpoint and weak endings or do these writerly crimes disqualify their authors from success? Well, yes and no. Ultimately, a good short story in a slam is one which engages the listener from beginning to end, which has a point and which uses language well. If a writer can be original and if a concept can be fresh; if a writer can make us laugh or cry or take us on a compelling journey – all the better.

The winner was Rob Casey with a sharply observed character sketch in eleven (thirteen actually, but he ran out of time) parts entitled Life of Guy. He was (unlike this cliché) a breath of fresh air.

The event raised £100 for Word for the Wounded. Prizes were kindly donated by Waterstones and Hive Beach Café and contributing businesses also included Beach & Barnicott and the Bridport Arts Centre.

Keep writing in Bridport. We love to listen…

© Rosanna Ley
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