Every writer understands the importance of reading and keeping, those reference books close by.
However, are you reading the right books or stories?
I know, I know there are only so many hours in the day.
Yes, there are days when reading or writing is just not in the cards. Yesterday, allergies had my eyes swollen to mere slits so sitting in front of the computer or even reading a book was impossible.
We all have our favorite genres. Me I love YA books. I’m a big Harry Potter and Hunger Games fan. But I also love historical novels like The Outlander Series, or on a cold winter weekend I enjoy a good Steven King that will keep me up all night, but then I’m gonna need a light humorous read like those written by Janet Evanovich to shake out the hee bee jee bees. So you can see my tastes are as varied as an all you can eat buffet.
But what about contests?
Books that I enjoy reading for pleasure are not going to help me with a short story or flash fiction contest.
Stop don’t hit that enter key yet!
Read these tips first, maybe they’ll help:
Read, reread and then read again the contest and submission rules.
I know sounds logical but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve missed something in the rules section.
Read about the contest judge.
Read everything you can about the judges. If they have a website, if they have published articles, stories or books then read them. These things will give you an insight into the style they enjoy. Judges are objective but they are also human.
Read stories and articles published on the magazine website.
Study what type of stories the editors gravitate toward.
Read past winning stories.
Not just the last one but go back a couple of contests. This may require you buying the editions. The investment will be worth it.
Now after all of this homework, you may discover this isn’t the right place for your story.
Writing for contests and magazines can be rewarding and fun but it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a good place to hone your writing skills and grow a thick skin as the rejection slips fill up your email box. I opened up a file folder to save all mine in, as a reminder to stay focused.
I enjoy writing short stories and love Flash Fiction but I no longer devote so much of my writing time to submitting to every contest that pops in my email box. Like I said there is only so many hours in a day.
Do you read and research before submitting to a contest?
Do you have any winning tips to share?
What is your experience with writing contests?
Do you have a favorite magazine or website you like to enter?
Check the links at the bottom of the post, because if you’re ready I’ve added some links that host writing contest. I’m sure there are tons more, but this should get you started.
Ready, or not, maybe it’s time to dust off that story, novel or poem.
Look hard enough and you can find a contest for just for you.
Thanks to Virginia Andersonfor letting me know about a The 2015 Green River Writers Annual Contest. Entry fees $3, now that’s a bargain. They offer cash prizes. The contest is open to poets, novelists, short story and nonfiction writers. Seems as if they have it all. Hurry, contest closes August 31, 2015.
Southwest Writers offer a bimonthly contest. Check out their website for deadlines and topics.
For a List of Creative Writing Competitions in 2015 check out Almond Press.
Now about that dusty novel…
Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter CompetitionAnnual competition for unpublished novels to be judged by senior editors at Crooked Cat Publishing. Win £500. Runner up £200. Opens on 1st May 2015. Deadline: 31st October 2015Submit: opening chapter of no more than 3,000 words, plus 1 page synopsis. Check website for full submission details and rules.
Harry Bowling Prize for New WritingIntended to encourage new, unpublished fiction. Looking for genuine storytellers who entertain with drama, romance and great characters. Your novel must have an urban setting. Runs every two years: next due in 2016 with calls for entries in 2015. Win £1,000 and a critique of your work by publishing industry experts. Deadline: TBC Submit: first chapter (no more than 5,000 words), synopsis (no more than 500 words), plus entry form. Check website for full submission details and rules.