Contest judges weigh in: Stories and poems that stand out exhibit something extra. In order to place high enough to win the cash prizes and certificates, writers must follow six specific steps.
Contact: Dana K. Cassell
Tel. (603) 922-8338
North Stratford, NH: February 1, 2013 – Writers-Editors Network, which has sponsored an international writing competition for 30 years, and which lists current contests from around the United States and the world on its website, asked judges from several competitions and genres to share their “secrets” on how they select winning entries. From their replies and from the group’s own experience, the Network suggests these “6 Tips to Win Your Next Contest”--
1. Include something in your story that makes it stand out – that causes the judge to go, “Wow! I didn’t see that coming.” It might be “an atmosphere that wraps itself around you” or a twist in the last paragraph or sentence. It must be unexpected but logical to the story and satisfactory – and memorable.
2. Follow the guidelines. This might seem like common sense, but a good percentage of entries do not. Double-check that your entry meets the required formatting (if specified), word count, genre, names on (or not on) the entry, and so on.
3. Poetry entries should create visual images inside the reader’s head. And every word should convey something meaningful to the poem.
4. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Sounds like another no-brainer? Apparently not, as so many entries come to judges full of misspellings, grammar errors, misused words (e.g., ‘there’ for ‘their’), and other “simple” errors. They put off the judges and drop the entry lower in the stack. Have a friend or family member use their fresh pair of eyes as a final -read-through to find any of these “losing” ingredients.
5. “Telling not Showing” is the number one reason those entries remaining past the first tests fail in the final scoring, according to one judge. “Telling is boring.” Make the reader care about the character and what happens next.
6. Begin with a bang. Before sending in an entry, read every article or book chapter you can find on openings, beginnings, leads. Then compare yours to what the experts say. This applies equally to fiction and nonfiction.
Additional tips are posted on the Writers-Editors Network website in the “Writing Contests” section at http://www.writers-editors.com/Writers/Contests/contests.htm
About Writers-Editors Network
Writers-Editors Network has been linking professional writers and editors with those who need content and editorial services since 1982. Members have access to job postings, the latest market news, and a monthly newsletter. Numerous public pages offer writing and marketing tips, contest news, and writers’ resources. The 30th Annual Writers-Editors International Writing Competition deadline is March 15; guidelines and entry form are posted on the website.
If you’d like more information about writing contests, or to schedule an interview with a contest judge, please contact
Dana K. Cassell
P.O. Box A
North Stratford, NH 03590
Tel: (603) 922-8338
Fax (603) 922-8339