Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.007

** Please note that I no longer run red pen episodes but do offer critique (first 1,000 words free) via** 

This week’s podcast was released today, Sunday 6th November, the seventh of my episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors’ writing, which I really enjoy. Please remember that it’s only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope that I’m firm but fair. I also type the critique as I’m reading the story for the first time so by listening to the episode you will have had the advantage of hearing the story in full before hearing my feedback.

Regardless of what genre you write I hope that this helps you think about the way your stories are constructed and that you have enjoyed hearing another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them.

Today’s story, from Aaron, was called ‘On the edge’. I read out the story, critiqued it and concluded with: “Twist stories are very hard to pull off (Roald Dahl was an expert and is one of my all-time favourite writers) and Aaron had me fooled. Apart from the end (which so cleverly slots everything else in place) my favourite aspect of this story is that there’s no info. dump at the beginning as so many stories are liable to have. I was continuously picturing one image and it being dispelled by what happens next, and it’s not until the end of the story that it all becomes clear, which is how a reader would want a story of any length to work.

This piece is 1,099 words and some competitions have a limit of 1,000 which Aaron would need to stick to if submitting this anywhere. 99 words doesn’t sound like a lot but when a story is so tight already it may be hard finding them. I mentioned chopping seven words from an early repetition and the description in the first half of a story would be the area I’d look at if anything needed to be trimmed. It’s a great story and should definitely see light of day in a publication of some kind.

If you have any feedback on today’s episode or any other podcasts or aspects of my blog, I’d be delighted to hear from you – my email address is

And if you’re feeling brave enough to email me a short story or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) of no more than 1,000-words for these red pen sessions, feel free. I suggest you listen to at least one of the red pen episodes to get an idea of what happens.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast is available via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe). Episodes include hints & tips (currently episode no.42) and author audio interviews – see this blog’s podcast page for more information. You can also read / download my eBooks at Smashwords.


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