Birmingham Stories launches writing competition with Dishoom

14 Aug 2020

On Monday 17 August, Birmingham Stories is launching a very exciting writing competition with Dishoom Birmingham to celebrate the opening of the restaurant in One Chamberlain Square. It’s open to anyone aged 11 and above who lives in Birmingham.

The winner will receive a signed copy of the Dishoom cookery book and a meal for six at Dishoom Birmingham! All you have to do is write a piece of “flash fiction”, a very short story, before 2 October 2020.

We’d like you to add no more than 500 words to Dishoom Birmingham’s founding myth: the story of Roda Irani.

Entrants should send their flash fiction to birminghamstories@literacytrust.org.uk or via Facebook or Instagram as a direct message on @bhamstories.

The start of Dishoom’s Birmingham story – to be completed by entrants:

BOMBAY, MARCH 1953 – IN WHICH RODA IRANI FINDS HER INDEPENDENCE AND HER VOICE.

Crisp and organised, Roda Irani leads her daughter through the narrow gullies of Swadeshi Market. “Come, let us get to the café.”

They begin to walk the length of the market, shoulder to hip. Each gully is lined with stalls separated by thin partitions or simple thick cloth. Roda and Farah navigate past shoppers haggling over the price of scissors, padlocks, bolts of cloth – an array of products with one thing in common: all made by Indian hands, on Indian soil.

What is flash fiction and how do I write it?

Flash fiction is a term for very short works of fiction.

Dr Ruth Gilligan, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, shares her top tips for approaching the flash fiction task.

  • First, get into a foodie frame of mind: Who taught you to cook? What is your earliest food memory? What food traditions or rituals does your family have? Maybe you could draw on one of these for inspiration…
  • Think about how you want to make your reader feel upon encountering your story: Happy? Sad? Think about how you will achieve this.
  • Next, start to plan. Even super-short stories need to have a beginning, middle and end – make sure you map these out and know what you want to happen and when.
  • Come up with a killer title!
  • Now: start writing! For the first draft, just let the words flow – you can go back and edit them later.
  • Remember, with flash fiction you don’t have much space – so only one or two characters or one or two scenes is probably best.
  • As you reach the ending, play around with different resolutions and think about how they change the meaning of the story. Will the conclusion come as a surprise or not?
  • Once you have a first draft, step away from your story for a few hours or even a few days – it’s good to get some space before you start editing. Then, when you come back to it, try reading it aloud to see how it flows or if anything jars.
  • Go back through and remove any unnecessary phrases or sentences – a lot of time we repeat ourselves when we don’t need to; we also overuse unnecessary words like ‘that’.
  • Finally, show your story to someone else to read – it’s always daunting, but getting a fresh pair of eyes on your work can be really helpful. If they react the way you were hoping, it looks like you’re ready to go!

On behalf of Birmingham Stories and Dishoom Birmingham, we can’t wait to read your entries!

Terms and conditions

Please download the Ts&Cs as a PDF here.

The entries must add no more than 500 words to the Dishoom Birmingham founding myth, which explores the parallels between Bombay and Birmingham, telling the story of Roda Irani.

The winner will receive a signed copy of the Dishoom cookery book (and a highly subjective guide to Bombay with map) and a voucher to be redeemed at Dishoom Birmingham before 31 December 2020. The voucher entitles the winner to a meal for them and up to five members of their household, up to a value of £150.

For inspiration, or simply to enjoy the original story, which sets the scene for Dishoom Birmingham, do visit: www.dishoom.com/birmingham.