Thursday, 11th February 2016

Writing something inspired by the works, characters or stories Charles Dickens is harder than it looks, eh? You only have to consider BBC1's all-star 'Dickensian'. What appeared at first to be a cleverly worked ensemble of some of Dickens' best loved characters all interacting with each other in Victorian London has since shown itself to be little more than today's Eastenders displaced by some one hundred and fifty years. Even the talents of Caroline Quentin and Pauline Collins cannot detract from the fact their characters rarely say anything other than 'Bumble!' or 'gin' respectively as apparent comic relief. Meanwhile, the long-running saga over who killed Jacob Marley has grown so tiresome that we are left merely glad he did die and decreased the surplus population. There is a long queue of others who would be welcome to join him.

Why is this relevant? The International Dickens Conference is coming to Aberdeen for the first time in 2016, on the 150th anniversary of his last visit to the City. Aberdeen's Dickens Fellowship have just announced a call for entries to a short story competition inspired by Dickens, his works or the conference theme of conviviality. And why such a judgemental opening to this blog post? Well, I need to get into practice...

Full details of the competition are below. Good luck to all entering.

We are looking for a short story that is inspired by the conference theme or by Dickens, his life or works. In addition to his famous novels, he was a prolific journalist, polemicist and campaigner, travel writer, and producer of hundreds of short pieces and stories, starting with “Sketches by Boz”, which made his name as a young author, but running throughout his career, written like the “Uncommercial Traveller” stories for a magazine, then published as a single edition. You have a lot to draw on.

WRITING: literary sketches and fiction may be submitted; work may be in English, Doric or Scots, and must not have been accepted for publication elsewhere. The length must not exceed 3,500 words. Entries are invited for Dickens Aberdeen 2016 and a distinguished judging panel will consider them in the Spring 2016. The winner will be announced by a celebrity guest at the Conference Banquet and will be published along with a selection of the best entries on the Dickens Fellowship website and distributed across the globe through the international Fellowship's network of branches. Should funds allow, the winner and a selection will also be published a chapbook.

Please send up to three prose pieces to dickens.aberdeen2016@gmail.com and note the following rules. Submissions should be emailed as separate MS Word or RTF attachments. The submission should be accompanied by an email cover note, detailing: contributor name; postal address; email address; phone number; age if under 18; and the title of each attached piece. The submission attachment(s) should show only the title of the piece, page numbering and word count.

ALL ENTRIES: to ensure blind selection, no contributor name should appear on any attached submission. Please do not send multiple copies. Receipt of submissions will be acknowledged by return. Please do not send any other communication to the email address. Any queries should be addressed to the same email address: dickens.aberdeen2016@gmail.com and will be answered as soon as we can.

Final date for entries is 30th April, but earlier entries are especially appreciated. Acceptance of contributions will be emailed but, due to limited resources, we are unable to notify rejections or to enter into correspondence regarding selection.

The conference website is managed by the Aberdeen Branch of the Dickens Fellowship and can be found at: http://dickensaberdeen2016.co.uk/