Bryony Allen: Bullying, judging and writing

Bryony Allen, the incredible author of Otoli and judge of Both Sides of the Story, gives us the low down on being a writer in a fast changing landscape. 

It was real honour to help judge the winning entries for the recent competition 'BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY' during July and an even bigger honour to have had my young adult novel OTOLI used as the stimulus for it in the first place. One thing that surprised me was the superb level of writing from the short listed entries; that's not to say that I was expecting it to be poor, but just that there are so many online writing and reading groups out there in cyberspace you never quite know what you are going to get from one to the other.

However, one thing I can certainly say is that all the winning entries from the short list were ones that can make Movellas extremely proud of its community of writers and readers. In one respect it seemed strange to be judging and critiquing the works of others as I've been on the receiving end many times before as a writer myself, and I guess I still am whenever someone buys and reads one of my books. However, it goes with the territory and I think the judging team at Movellas were all on the same wavelength as me, which resulted in the overall winners being chosen easily enough.

One of the things that really did strike me reading through the stories was the level of understanding and emotion present in the writing regarding the competition topic of Bullying. It's a sad but true fact that it just goes to show that Bullying is still a major issue in the lives of young people, and indeed older people too, worldwide and that we've all been affected in some capacity by it. When I started writing OTOLI back in 2009, I remember the many different feelings that were invoked in me as a writer, everything from sadness and despair to happiness, hope and even the element of revenge. As writers we have the power to manipulate characters and events in a way we would hopefully never do as real people but it does allow us to get a message, point or feeling across to our readers. That's the great part about writing fiction.

In an increasingly competitive writing world it can be hard for writers to get their work seen or noticed; shouting the loudest doesn't necessarily work anymore as there are now so many out there shouting already and it's always growing.

The large publishers still have the cash and contacts to throw about to be the loudest, but it's gradually changing so that in time even the solitary stay at home self-published writer will be able to get a look in as long as the writing is of a high quality and marketed the right way. Just look at what some musicians are managing to do now against the former might of the big record labels by mediums such as iTunes and MySpace. It will be the same for writers that embrace the future and the changes happening in writing and reading technology as they develop. For those of us independently published with smaller publishers, it's all about partnership in getting the word out about our books, they do their bit and we as writers do ours.

Organisations such as Movellas can give aspiring writers the encouragement, critique and confidence to put out some great writing and, from what I can see, Movellas is clearly one of the leading lights here as they already make it part of their ethos to partner up with organisations outside their own domain which enables them to offer up such great competitions. I wouldn't have had my own work and publisher portrayed here in the manner it has been otherwise.

To all of you writing at Movellas today, I'll leave you with a final statement - “never give up on your dreams of being a writer”. Sometimes it's easier said then done but in a community such as Movellas you should get all the support and encouragement you need. To the winners that received a copy of OTOLI as part of their prize, I sincerely hope you enjoyed the book and that I've helped in some one to inspire you to continue your journey in writing.

Personally I'm now looking forward to October and the release of my next YA novel – 'The Assembly Room'. See - it can be done!

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