Writing contests are a great way to get your foot in the door to the writing world.
You practice your writing and editing as well as trying to meet deadlines. If you win, you get bragging rights as well as the satisfaction of knowing that your writing actually is pretty good.
So what can you do to make sure you submit your absolute best writing to a contest?
1. Titles matter. Create a unique, meaningful title for your piece. It will be one of the first things the judges see and you want them to be intrigued to read it.
2. Finish before the deadline. Finish the first draft of your piece at least a week before the deadline. You want to five yourself ample time to edit, revise, and make sure it exceeds the contest’s guidelines’ expectations.
3. Create a fantastic protagonist. You want the judges to love your character, sympathize with your character, feel the same things your character feels.
4. Follow the guidelines. I can’t stress this enough. Read over the guidelines for the contest. If you don’t follow all of them, your piece will automatically be out, regardless of how fantastic your writing may be.
5. Stick to the theme. Some contests call for open fiction, others call for fiction revolving around a theme. Make sure your story contains that theme, or it’s out.
6. Know the difference. A Literature contest focuses more on deep characters, setting, creativity, and beautiful use of language. A Writing contest focuses more on plot and popular fiction.
7. Stick with on Point of View. Most short stories are too short to alternate POVs, so just stick with one and make sure it suits your story the best. If you do happen to enter a novella contest, unless you’re really confident, still stick with one POV. Do you know how many entries the judges are reading? Don’t confuse them with multiple characters to follow in one story.
Please note that while I’ve entered contests plenty of times before, I’ve never won anything. Take these tips with a grain of salt and do what you believe is best for you and your story.
How do you enter writing contests? What tips do you have for us?