Abbie Clements

Hi There, My Name is Abbie Clements, Current Owner of The Halesworth Bookshop.

I am thrilled to be working with the FolkEast team on this Writing Competition and I’m honoured to have been asked to be a judge for this first year, celebrating 10 years of the Folk East Festival.

Abbie's tips

When deciding to write a story there are so many things to consider – Themes, Plot, Structure, Setting, Style, Characters and so much more.My best advice to anyone writing is to try not to focus too much on technicalities.I want to see imagination and creativity – I want to be drawn into the story, I want to fall in love with all the characters whether they’re good, bad, or even evil…I want to care! 

Go for it, get creative, lose yourself in your own imagination – Make me fall in love with your characters so I care about your story – That’s was it’s all about.

Annaliese Avery

Annaliese Avery is the author of a brand new fantasy series starting with The Nightsilver Promise and soon to be followed by the hotly anticipated The Doomfire Secret. Annaliese lives in Halesworth, and before she was a published author she was the manager of Beccles Library. Annaliese is always surrounded by stories and is eager to read the entries for our spectacular competition.

Annaliese's tips

1 Start with your character. Characters are the most important part of your story so ask yourself who are they? What do they want? And what is standing in their way of getting it? All good stories have a conflict at the heart of them. 

2 Think about your ending first. By knowing how you want your story to end for your character, will they win the day? Will they learn a lesson? will they become more than they were at the start of the story? 

3 All the words you have are enough. We sometimes worry that our words are not special enough, that they aren’t complex and unique, but a good story told well with all the words that you already know is often better than a story where you have searched down new words and tried to make them fit.  

4 Show us the world. Details are important to a story and when you are describing the world or a character and their actions those descriptions should add colour to your story. So think about what details are important to share, which will enrich the readers’ enjoyment of the story and which ones will distract them.  

5 Have fun! Writing is a fun thing to do and you should enjoy the story that you are telling. Put things into your writing that you like and find interesting. If you are having a good time writing the story then your reader will have a good time reading it.

Sean Cooney

Sean Cooney is an award winning songwriter, singer, storyteller and member of popular folk group, the Young’uns. His songs, born out of the folk tradition of his native North East, have championed contemporary real life stories and have been described as “a heartfelt secular hymnary for these troubled times and a rallying call for humanity” (the Scotsman). He is the author of the acclaimed international theatre show, The Ballad of Johnny Longstaff (directed by Lorne Campbell) – described by the Observer as “an extraordinary portrait of a working class hero.” In 2020 he wrote and presented Art of Now – A Life in Song on BBC Radio 4 which explored the process of turning real life stories into song. The Guardian describes him “a superb songwriter with a refined ear for a haunting melody and the pointed detail in a colourful tale”.

Annaliese's tips

I like stories that make me laugh, or make me cry – stories that make me want to pass them on to other people – stories to share