What do you need to win a writing contest?

If I knew, for certain, I’d be a big winner!

I’ve come close a few times, but sigh… I’m still working on grabbing the brass ring. 

It’s another year and contests are starting to crop up again. But, if I’m to jump in those deep waters, I want to give myself the best chance of winning. That brings up the question. How?

What can we do to swing the odds in our favor in the face of fierce competition? 


After you’ve written that story make sure you’ve hit all the basics. If you’re looking for an edge, check out the following tips.

  1. Engage the reader emotionally.
    • Give the reader a reason to love or hate the protagonist.
      • Even in a short or flash piece emotions should run hot.
  2. Be unpredictable.
    • Don’t be cliché, or if you must put an original twist on an old cliché.
  3. Don’t put the reader to sleep.
    • Keep them on the edge of their seat from line one.
      • I’ve been guilty of rambling on and on about something I thought was important but wasn’t.
  4. Give the reader a satisfying ending.
    • Don’t leave them hungry.
      • There’s a difference in a cliff hanger and a bad taste.
  5. Lead the reader down a clear path.
    • Don’t leave them wondering what the hell just happened?
      • (Oops, just used a cliché.)
  6. Let the reader breathe.
    • Fast, slow, short and long, the pacing helps go the distance.
  7. Know the rules.
    • And follow them.
      • I must confess, I’ve blown this more than once.

Want to read more about avoiding contest mistakes?

Click and read this post. Do You Make These 7 Big Mistakes When Entering Story Contests? By Dr John Yeoman, PhD, Founder of Writers’ Village

So, do tell. Are you going to enter more or less contests this year?

Are you too busy publishing or writing that great American Novel?

Have you won any writing contests lately?

What was your secret?top-secret-1076813_640 (1)

Tell us in the comments section and you can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and Amazon.com, stop by and say hey! Please remember to with a click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.


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