Writing Contest Tips and Tricks
by Deborah Owen
Creative Writing Institute is about to close its Fourth Annual Beginner’s Short Story Contest. If you enter, you won’t be competing with anyone who has ever sold a short story. This is for beginners only and there are less than 50 entries, so your chances are good, but hurry! It ends August 31, 2012, EST.
* First prize: $100 cash or a tutored writing course valued at $200!
* Second prize: $50 cash, plus additional gifts
* Check our site to see all of the prizes.
Is it free? No. It costs about the same as a cup of Starbucks coffee. Free contests have more entries, and thus, more competition. Go ahead. Take a chance. Believe in yourself. It’s good to analyze your writing and know that you aren’t a Thoreau or Stephen King, but it’s something else to think so little of your talent that you don’t think you stand a chance. Isn’t it worth the price of a cup of coffee to find out?
Rejection is a fearful thing, I know, but not believing in yourself is worse. I began contesting several years ago, and the first one I entered was huge. I didn’t know that at the time. I’m glad I was naïve because I took honorable mention over 16,000 other entries in the Writer’s Digest Contest. I almost won… not because my writing was so good, but because my story was unique and it had a good angle.
A huge dose of morphine couldn’t have made me any higher. Here I am years later, and I’m still riding that high wave. It was well worth the money to have that marvelous experience.
Contest Tips and Tricks:
• First and foremost, follow the guidelines! Do exactly what you are told or your entry will be disqualified.
• Enter contests that have small fees, as they have less competition than free contests.
• What you should expect to pay: our contest is only $6, but fees vary. Contests that give cash prizes must charge a modest fee to subsidize the awards. If you’re a beginner, I suggest that you not enter a contest that charges more than $10.
• Winning the lottery is much akin to winning a writing contest. Against all odds, even when you think you don’t have a chance, you might win! Last year’s third place winner was a 15-year old. The point spread from first place to third place was less than three points. Don’t cheat yourself out of this great learning experience.
• Watch out for contest scams. Some places will ask for a high entry fee, and virtually all of the entrants will receive a letter telling them they have won. When the “winner” replies, the scammer will want another $20 for a biography, and later they’ll ask for more money to enter for the grand prize. The so called “winners” are told their work will appear in an anthology (collection of short stories or poetry), but of course, the organization will prod them to sell anthologies to family and friends. A little common sense goes a long way in this kind of thing.
• There are only three kinds of fees that you should consider: (1) Entry fee, (2) reading fee, and (3) critique fee, if you want the judge’s feedback [well worth the money].
Choose the contest that best suits you and go for it! Just search “writing contests” and you’ll find more than you can enter. They usually run in the spring and fall, so get brave. Gamble the price of two sandwiches a year, if only for the sheer fun of it. It’s a great experience.
Check our guidelines and enter before it’s too late. Contest closes August 31, midnight, EST. This is the kind of contest where you really have a chance. Check it out at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. Don’t forget to click “like” before you go.