This is the greatest opportunity for publication you will ever have.
Welcome to Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest. This is going to be our biggest and best contest yet. In a small fee-based contest like this, the competition is much less and your chances of winning are much greater. Our fee is the price of a Starbucks’s cup of coffee and it helps subsidize our nonprofit charity contest, so invest in us and at the same time invest in yourself.
Publication: we will publish the first, second and third place winners, two honorable mentions, and ten additional Judge’s Pick stories in our fifth annual anthology, along with best-selling guest authors and stories written by Creative Writing Institute’s staff. Enjoy the competition. Join the fun!
Judge’s Pick: you may be asking what a “Judge’s Pick” story is. That is a story that impressed a judge so much that he/she nominated it for publication, even though it was not a winning entry. A very high commendation for the author!
* $150 and Gold eMedal OR a free, privately tutored writing course valued at $260
* $100 and Silver eMedal OR $200 applied toward a privately tutored writing course
* $50 and Bronze eMedal OR $125 applied toward a privately tutored writing course
Fourth and Fifth place:
* Honorable Mention eMedal
In addition, we will publish ten Judge’s Pick stories.
For the First Time — the Lucky Draw!
We would like to express our gratitude to Microsoft and TechSoup for donating a Norton AntiVirus Package for five computers, valid for one year. *The Norton Package will only open in the USA, but that’s fine. You have 15 other opportunities to win!
eMedals: You will love the classy eMedals. Make them any size you want. Post them on your site and on social media!
Revealing our Cover: for the first time, we are revealing our cover for the next anthology, which will be titled LOST. (You can see the enlarged picture at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.)
The theme sentence is below the picture. Be sure to use it in your story.
“I am completely and utterly lost.”
- Open genre
- One prize per person
- Entry fee: $5 per submission
- Submit each story individually
- Word limit is 1,500 to 2,000 words.
- Story may not have been published before.
- No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
- Your story must include this theme sentence: “I am completely and utterly lost.”
- Winners agree to minor editing rights and will grant first, non-exclusive, electronic rights.
- All Rights return to the author upon publication.
- Accepting submissions until August 31, 2017, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
- Apply the theme sentence to an emotional state, a physical location, fighting illness, or any other application that comes to mind.
- Copy and paste your document into https://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/submit.
Do NOT send your submission as an email attachment. We will not open it. Direct questions to head judge Jianna Higgins, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Secrets of Winning a Writing Contest
by Bob Bruggemann
If you want to win a contest, the first thing you must do is follow the guidelines. Many submissions are disqualified because they don’t meet all the requirements. If the rules state a maximum of 1,000 words, a 1,025-word story, however brilliant, will hit the trash. (Do not include the title or byline in the word count.)
If the contest calls for G-rated material (which means no swearing, vulgarities, or erotica) and your entry contains just one swear word, it will be discarded. If you are in question as to whether a word will be considered a swear word, don’t use it or write to email@example.com and ask.
Assuming you follow the guidelines, the judges will look at the following four elements.
Some contests give you a theme, such as, “Wedding Day.” What’s the first story idea that comes to mind? Whatever it is, forget it. You can bet everyone else will have thought of it, too. A large percentage of submissions will be so similar that the competition will be fierce, but if you use an original angle, the judges will love it.
Don’t wrack your brain for an idea. Relax. Get your conscious, critical mind out of the way and allow ideas to bubble up from your subconscious. In other words, daydream.
Ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, how, and ‘what if?’ Let your train of thought go where it will. Before long, you’ll have an idea for a unique story.
In short story contests, you’ll never wrong with the KISS method: (Keep It Simple, Sweetie.)
Don’t try to impress the judges with $3 words. Like any other reader, they want a story that is easy to read.
Every sentence must move the story forward. The reader doesn’t want flowery descriptions of a rose garden in the moonlight. He/she wants to know what the girl is doing there at two in the morning and what will happen next. Stick to the point.
A short story contest calls for three distinct parts: the beginning, middle, and end. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The beginning introduces the main character and the action and what the story is about. The middle develops the theme and keeps the reader hooked. The ending must be believable, resolve the problems, and leave the reader satisfied.
Above all, don’t overlook simple formatting rules.
- Make a new paragraph for every new speaker
· Single space your short story and indent paragraphs
· Run the spellchecker!
· Watch your punctuation
Last, but not least: write an original story specifically for the contest – but assuming you don’t follow that good advice, at least rewrite your story to fit the guidelines.
Creative Writing Institute’s annual short story contest is now in session and accepting entries until September 15, 2016. This is a small contest and your chances of winning are good. Invest in yourself and get your entry ready! For details and submission instructions, visit http://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/.
Prizes: First prize is $100, a first place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.
Second prize is $50, a second place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.
Third place is $25, a third place eMedal and publication in the 2016 anthology.
*We will also recognize honorable mentions and several “Judge’s Picks,” which means the story didn’t place, but at least one judge really liked it and it will be published in our anthology. Judge’s Pick winners will receive a Judge’s Pick ribbon.
Above all, have fun! Hey! Wait a minute! “Like” us before you go, will you?
See guidelines at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.
Don’t Read This
You Might Learn Something
by Deborah Owen
If you are a writer, it means you have courage! Every time you write, you’re revealing your deepest innermost feelings and attitude toward life. Not only that, you’re risking public judgment. Anyone who can face those odds can go the rest of the way and be published, but publication isn’t the end of your learning experience. It’s just the beginning.
Everything in life is a story that needs to be told. You still carry that small notebook, don’t you? The one you used to tell about the deer carcass on the road, the flashing ambulance and fire truck on their way to a wreck, the motorcycle club that held you up forever at an intersection, and the idiot with road rage. All of these are bits of a story yet to be told. Note them.
Learn from your “failed stories.” You know. The ones that didn’t sell. There is something to be learned from all of them. Reread them and ask yourself what is wrong with them. Are they wordy? Did you write yourself into a corner? Too many characters for the length of your story? (Two main characters and one or two more for flavor is all a 2,000 word story will comfortably hold.) Did your characters lack development? Did you force them to do something that went against their grain? Did you describe them so the reader could identify with them? Were your scenes in chronological order? Did you have enough conflict? Did the plot climax at least 2/3 of the way through? Did the middle sag? Spice those old stories up with alliteration, asyndeton, polysyndeton, similes, idioms, metaphors, and other advanced techniques. Don’t know what they are? Stay tuned. That’s what we’re going to study next.
When you hit a dead end, ask yourself two questions: what is the message of my story? How can I complicate the plot?
Don’t let your characters take the reins and write their own story. They will lead you places you don’t want to go. When that happens, stop and recapitulate. Roughly re-outline the story (you DID make an outline… right?) and follow it.
Remember your early writing days when you tried to decide whether ‘this sentence’ should go in ‘this’ paragraph or the next one? When you looked up the rules for ‘laying and lying,’ ‘further and farther,’ ellipses, quotations, italics, etc.? Remember your first story? Your first publication? Remember thinking how you would like to go to school, but it cost over $400 for a six-week course?
Now you can take that course. Creative Writing Institute offers eight-week courses with a private tutor for only $260. No money? We have a payment plan with no interest. And… well… we would do your homework for you, too, but it would be best if you put forth a little effort. 🙂
Creative Writing Institute’s Annual Short Story Contest
No Entry Fee
First place: a FREE writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260 USD.
Second place: $50 Amazon gift card or a credit of $150 USD toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260 USD.
Third place: $25 Amazon gift card or a credit of $100 USD toward a writing course with a personal tutor, valued at $260 USD.
*Plus, two honorable mentions and TEN additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our 2015 anthology and Ebook.
This is a themed contest and this exact sentence must appear in the story:
“I got more than I bargained for!”
We would like to encourage mystery stories, but the genre is open. (See http://www.cwinst.com/ for definitions and complete rules.)
- Story must be 1000 – 2000 words.
- No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
- Entry must not have been published before.
- ONE submission per person, please
- Accepting submissions internationally from July 15, 2015 until August 15, 2015, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
- All entries must be in English
SEE MORE DETAILS at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com
PERSISTENCE in WRITING
Persistence in writing DOES pay off! Win-win propositions pay off, too. Editors love the phrase “win-win,” which means you have a deal whereby both ends have something to gain. I remember the first time I used that term.
The American Legion’s upcoming 75th Anniversary Edition was in preparation and their national office was in my back door. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that soon enough and when I called to ask about a job, the kind editor, Mr. Greenwald, said he had filled all positions.
Somewhere on the path of life, I had heard not to take no for an answer so I called again the next day and said, “This is Deborah Owen again. I called yesterday to ask about a position… “ and the not so kind editor cut me off mid-sentence with, “As I said yesterday, I have no positions available. Thank you for calling.” *click
I didn’t sleep much that night. Instead, I laid in bed and devised a plan whereby Mr. Greenwald would have to hire me. By morning, I was ready. With a dry mouth, I called him a third time and literally read from a written script, faking a voice of bravado and excitement:
“Hello, Mr. Greenwald. This is Deborah Owen again. I understand you don’t have any openings, but I have a win-win proposition you won’t want to pass up. I’d like to treat you to lunch one day this week to discuss it.”
He tried every way in the world to finagle the proposition out of me, but I knew it would be good-bye for the last time if I told him, so I said, “It’s too complicated to discuss on the phone. You choose the time and place and I’ll tell you in person.” He hesitated. [Never get in a hurry when waiting for an answer.] But, sensing he was about to say no, I added, “I promise to be brief.”
I was beginning to feel like I had leprosy when he finally agreed.
We met at his office Friday and walked two blocks to the diner. All the way there he wanted to know about my proposition but I played for time. “For now, let’s just get to know each other.”
I asked how long he had been editor at The American Legion, where he worked before and what his goals were in life. I kept him talking about himself – which is always a great strategy. At the end of the meal he asked about the great win-win proposition. I knew it was now or never, so I waded in and tried to look confident and enthusiastic (best done with a smile on one’s face).
“I’m a published freelance writer but I have yet to work inside a magazine. I understand the importance of a deadline and I’m never late. I’m meticulous in researching, and I was once a secretary for five men so I have good office skills. I’m a touch typist and a quick learner. Here’s my proposition: I’ll work for you free of charge. I’ll research, write, edit, or sweep floors if you’ll just let me work on the 75th Edition with you. Teach me. I want to learn. I’ll be the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at night. No matter what job you give me, you can count on it being done well. Now if that’s not a win-win proposition, I don’t know what is.”
With a smile, he answered, “Let me give you some advice, Mrs. Owen. Never offer your services for nothing. Someone may think they aren’t worth anything, and everyone is worth something. I’ll see you Monday morning at 8 am… and I will pay you a salary. I met you because I was curious, and I hired you because you were persistent. Persistence is a good quality. You’ll intern directly beneath me and you can have the desk right outside my office.”
I earned over $400 as I researched original WWI history and drafted 37 articles. No other job taught me so much in such a short amount of time. This is where the story should end on a high note, but there’s more.
One day Mr. Greenwald sent me to see a woman who was a higher up in the American Legion Auxiliary. In front of a third party, she lied to me to my face and I called her on it. I told Mr. Greenwald about it immediately (to build some insurance, in case he heard about it later). Three weeks came and went and I forgot about the incident, but the lying shrew didn’t. Mr. Greenwald called me in and said orders came down from way over his head. He had to fire me, as she was calling for my job and nothing less would please her.
“But I told you what happened,” I said. He lectured me on the urgency of good politics. So there I was. Out of the best job in the world.
The highs of digging through authentic files as direct intern beneath the American Legion’s National Headquarter’s editor was too high, and the low of losing that job was too low. I didn’t even know how much of my work went into the edition until it came out. ALL of it went in, and the “I Remember” section was completely my work, including the idea for it. Still, I couldn’t pull out of the depression, so I did the worst thing possible. I dropped completely out of writing for ten years. I let go of writing, but writing wouldn’t let go of me, so here’s the lesson:
When the doors don’t open easily, take a crowbar! Know what you are going to say. Practice saying it out loud (in front of a mirror), and then go for it! What do you have to lose? Groom yourself properly. Dress for success. Greet the editor with a strong handshake and take him out for lunch. And by the way, don’t leave your wallet at home (like I did) and… lastly… learn when to button your lip.
Editors want to hire writers who practice tactfulness, not brazen personnel that casts their magazine in a bad light. Writing persistence and “win-win propositions” will take you far but in the end, it depends on how much guts you have.
Mr. Greenwald was one of the main stepping stones in my writing life. If not for him, I wouldn’t have founded two writing schools later. The future is exciting!! If you could only see it. Every single day, you are affecting your future… so go after it, and swing by http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com on the way.
Here is my personal Christmas gift to you… a cherished memory, complete with glaring errors… the first story I ever wrote, at age 15. Believe it or not, it won third place in the high school writing contest and was printed on the front page of our school newspaper. Sharing it now for the first time makes me feel like I’m naked in Times Square. Little did I know I would become a writing tutor and found a writing school as a nonprofit charity. By the way, the setting for this story was a Quonset hut that sat behind our property.
There’s a place for comments at the end. Be kind. lol
Poverty Stricken Children Keep Belief in Santa Claus
by Deborah Owen
At night, I always take a walk, no matter what the weather. Sometimes I walk a mile and sometimes more. I often take a friend along. Tonight I would like to take you with me.
Last week I found a little house, more like a hut, in the woods. As I drew nearer, my eyes pierced the broken pattern of the frosty window. I saw a family of seven huddled around a small, pot-bellied stove. The children were shabbily dressed.
One boy, about the age of nine, wore pants almost up to his knees. The little girl was about six. She wore a short dress far above her knees. She was shivering, and her small, frail arms were bare as was most of her body. The other, youngest child, about one, lay contented on his mother’s lap. The other children were girl twins about three, with long, blonde hair. They wore different colored sleeveless dresses with no buttons on them. They shivered from the cold, cutting winds that bypassed the sagging door.
The room itself was bare of furniture. The only furniture in sight was the pot-bellied stove and a single table and chair.
No Christmas Tree
So far as I could see, there was only one other room but there was no way for me to see into it. There was no Christmas tree as you might expect to see, this being the night before Christmas Eve.
Needless to say, these people are poor and can’t even clothe themselves and their children, let alone buy a Christmas tree and gifts for the children.
At one time, these children knew as happy a Christmas as anyone until their father fell seriously ill and lost his job. Then they were put out of their home and by chance, found the little hut where they now live.
This would be the first Christmas without Santa Claus. Their mother had tried to explain to them that he had so many children to visit that he might forget some. Since they lived so far back in the woods, he might not see them. But even then, the children had faith in Santa Claus and five stockings hung on the wall for him to fill.
It broke the parents’ hearts to know the children would be so cruelly disappointed. But Ann, the six-year-old, kept saying, “Don’t worry, mommy, Santa Claus never forgets.” Anne had even given up her slight supper for him, explaining that she didn’t want Santa to be as hungry as she was.
Christmas Eve came and went as normal as any other day, in most respects. They never had anymore than canned beans and some leftover meat – no milk and no coffee.
Parents Dread Christmas
The parents were dreading the coming Christmas, dreading to witness the first real heartbreak of their children’s young lives, not knowing how to prevent it, but never ceasing in their efforts to lessen their coming grief.
It was Christmas Eve when all the children said their prayers. There was no need to pray that Santa Claus might not forget, for they sincerely believed that he wouldn’t. The coming Christmas would be one of sorrow. It would be one in which all faith and confidence would be shattered.
It was getting late, and the children were asleep. There wouldn’t be any chicken dinner for them. It would be the same canned beans they ate every day.
Then I started home, for it was getting late. As I prepared for bed, the peace and contentment that surrounded me gave way to the horizon of a new thought! The night was a busy one.
In the morning I returned to see the results of my surprise. I woke early on Christmas Day. My first thought was the poor family I encountered on Christmas Eve.
A White Christmas
Silently, I dressed and slipped out of the house. As I left, I noticed it had snowed during the night. It would be a white Christmas. I made my way to the house in the woods some two miles away.
As I neared, I saw the children jumping and laughing through the window. Ann was holding a doll in her arms, not new, but in good condition. Her big brother had a used glove and a baseball.
The twins had twin dolls, and the baby held a teddy bear. Their mother was admiring a plump chicken ready to be cooked which had a red ribbon around it and a note reading, “Merry Christmas,” and as she read the note, Ann said, “See, Mommy, I told you Santa wouldn’t forget.”
And her parents agreed with her, as they knelt to thank the Lord for another MERRY CHRISTMAS.
SHORT STORY WINNERS ANNOUNCED
A hearty congratulations to the winners, finalists, honorable mentions, guests and staff who contributed to Creative Writing Institute’s 2nd Annual Anthology, which will be on sale in December. Thank you for becoming part of our history. You will notice some of the winners have an asterisk by them. That indicates their story was chosen by a judge as a “judge’s pick,” which is a high honor. And now – our list of winners!
You can read the top three winning stories here:
1st place winner: The Devil and Mrs. Morgan by Marsha Porter: https://deborahowen.wordpress.com/the-devil-and-mrs-morgan-by-marsha-porter-1st-prize-winner/
2nd place winner: This Woman’s Right by Brian Staff: https://deborahowen.wordpress.com/this-womans-right-by-brian-staff/
Reading the Leaves by Gargi Mehra: https://deborahowen.wordpress.com/reading-the-leaves-by-gargi-mehra-3rd-place-winner/
1st place: The Devil and Mrs. Morgan by Marsha Porter
2nd place: This Woman’s Right by Brian Staff
3rd place: Reading the Leaves by Gargi Mehra
4th place: * Yogatta be Kidding Me by Sue Nickerson
5th place: * Pages of You by Tricia Seabolt
*You – Ivadell Brower
*Egot and the Trident of the Pond King by J. Lenni Dorner
By any other Name by M. Bulechek
Read to Me by Joan Bassington-French
Lana’s Sister by Diane Maciejewski
Revelation by Summer Jones
*Mad Artist by Robert Marazas
Aftermath by Mark Trudel
Striking Out by Brenda Anderson
The Truth in Names by Sarah Dayan
Sponsored by http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com, YOUR place to find writing fulfillment with a private tutor. No need to wait. Sign up today and start tonight!
A Short Biography
by Sodiq Yusuf
You probably know Edgar Allan Poe was a renowned American author, poet, short story writer and literary critic, but what else do you know about him?
Born the second of three children on January 19, 1809, to Elizabeth and David Poe, Jr., Poe was orphaned at the age of three, and adopted by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia.
Edgar showed interest in writing at an early age. When he attended the University of Virginia, John Allan refused to pay his fees because of Poe’s gambling habit. Edgar left the school, angry, and found his first love, Elmira Royster, in Richmond.
He enlisted in the Army in 1827 under the name of Edgar A. Perry. John Allan later helped him enroll in the U.S. Military Academy. There he published Tamerlane and Other Poems. Shuffling between Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia, he continued to write, winning literary prizes and becoming the editor of the Southern Literary Messenger. As the editor, Poe brought fame to the magazine and became a fearless critic of popular writers, including Rufus Griswold.
Although Poe was already famous after publishing The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), The Fall of the House of Usher (1839), and “Raven” (1845), he was poor. After the death of his wife, Virginia Clemm, Poe returned to Richmond, devastated. He and his first love, Elmira Royster, (then widowed) were reunited.
At a later date, Poe disappeared for a few days, only to be found inside a bar house. At the end of a derelict life, he died in a Baltimore hospital on October 7, 1849. The cause of his death remains a mystery, but he was remembered as a gentle man with a great sense of humor.
After Poe’s death, his literary opponent, Rufus Griswold, wrote a libelous obituary and memoir, describing Poe as a lunatic, womanizer and lonely drunkard. Ironically, that writing would later be regarded as one of the best biographies ever written about Poe.
If there is a moral to be had, let it be this: one of the greatest gifted men of all time wasted his time, his talent, and his life. Don’t let the same be said of you.
Don’t forget to ‘like’ us before you leave. For more great writing tips, sign up for The Writer’s Choice Newsletter at http://cwinst.com/newslettersignup.php. Happy day!
by Hugh Wilson
If you want to win a writing contest, the first thing you must do is study the rules. Many entries are disqualified because the story has not met every requirement, e.g. if the rules state a maximum of 1000 words, a 1200-word story, however brilliant, will go straight on the NO pile.
Assuming you’ve done that bit right, the judges will be looking at four elements:
Don’t let those official sounding words put you off. They are only words. Let’s look at each and see what they mean to us as writers.
Think again. Winning stories come from second, third, tenth thoughts. Some contests give you a theme – “Wedding Day” for instance. What’s the first thought that comes to mind?
Forget it. You can bet your last dollar that everyone else will have thought it, too. A large percentage of submitted stories will be so similar that the judges will be tearing their hair out.
Make yours different, and they will love you.
Don’t “wrack your brains” to get ideas. Relax, get your conscious, critical mind out of the way, and allow ideas to bubble up from your subconscious. In other words, daydream.
Ask yourself who, what, where, when, how, and “what if?” Let the trains of thought go where they will. Before long, you’ll have an idea for a story that is different.
What if that shy looking woman with people entering a church, where a wedding is about to take place, sits in the empty seats at the back?
At the reception, she avoids conversations, eats and drinks, then leaves.
Back in her lonely, one room apartment she scans the Forthcoming Marriages column in the local paper, to see where her next free food and wine is coming from.
You won’t go far wrong if you remember three little words:
Keep it simple.
Don’t try to impress the judges with long, obscure words and “writerly” language. Like any other readers, they want a story that is easy to read.
Don’t stop to admire the view. Every sentence must move the story forward. The reader doesn’t want flowery descriptions of a rose garden in the moonlight. She wants to know what the girl is doing there at two in the morning, and what happens next.
A story has three distinct parts to think about: beginning, middle and end.
The beginning introduces the main character and what the story is about, so that the reader wants to know what happens.
The middle develops the theme, keeping the reader hooked.
The ending must be believable and leave the reader satisfied. Too many otherwise good contest entries simply stop when they reach the maximum word count, with no conclusion.
Always write your story specifically for that contest. Don’t be tempted to re-cycle an old story in the hope it just might fit the contest’s requirements. It won’t.
Above all, enjoy writing it, and the chances are your readers will enjoy reading it.
Don’t forget to ‘like’ us before you leave. For more great tips, sign up for The Writer’s Choice Newsletter (for free) at http://cwinst.com/newslettersignup.php.
By Karen Johnson Waugh
Beware of scam writing contests. Fraudulent contests have a modus Operandi. There are resourceful ways to judge their legitimacy.
Familiarize yourself with the hosting website. Scammers often claim to come from big companies. Beware if your win notice arrives from a free account like Hotmail or Gmail.
Scammers operate quickly. The “Dear Sir” generic salutations have been sent to thousands of others. Note that scammers outside the United States often make glaring errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation in the bogus winning notifications.
Never pay a fee to receive a prize. Use good sense. A legitimate contest will not have handling fees.
Prizes valued over $600.00 do require affidavits. Con artists lure the unsuspecting to use services like Western Union. Transfers are handled like cash. The scammers receive illicit funds and any money you sent cannot be retrieved. And… don’t be fooled by a phony check. You will get stuck paying fines and your bank account may be closed.
Legitimate fees: writing contests may have an entry fee or a reading fee. This provides the funds to supply prizes. The higher the entry fee, the better your chances are since there will be less entries, but competition will be higher. Some contests offer feedback on your entry for a small fee, usually not exceeding $15. If you’re a serious writer, it may be a worthwhile investment to have a judge share inside information.
You are a winner already by knowing the contests that are safe to enter! Creative Writing Institute invites you to enter our contests at www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.
Contest and Writers Go Hand in Hand
OUR ANTHOLOGY CONTEST ENDS 2/28/13 AT MIDNIGHT, EST. HURRY! See details at the bottom.
My first competition was the Writer’s Digest contest. You would think a beginner would know better than to enter a huge contest, but I was naïve. I proved that ignorance can truly be bliss. Truth be known, I wouldn’t have expected to win if there had been only 100 entries. Most writers have these kinds of insecurities, so I’ve concluded that such humility (or some may call it fear) is a self-defense mechanism, a balm for the disappointment of not winning.
Thus, my entry was an act of futility – a dash for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a quest for the Irish shamrock. I entered for the fun of it because I had a very unique story that I told from a very cool angle.
Months later, I received a large manila envelope from Writer’s Digest. Inside was a certificate for Honorable Mention. I stared at it in shock, and then read the accompanying letter that congratulated me for surpassing 16,000 entries. I sat dumbfounded, and stared at the Honor Award with newfound respect.
I learned a lot that day. I learned that it’s worth investing a few bucks to take a chance, and that taking chances can lead to new and exciting adventures. I learned that no matter how the deck is stacked, I still have a chance of winning. I learned that I would have never had that wonderful moment in my life if I hadn’t thrown caution to the wind and invested $15. And I have since learned that investing in myself increases my faith in my own writing abilities.
I also learned that it takes a unique story, told from a unique angle, to win a prize. Entering that one contest gave me the courage to enter others.
As a writer, you will know when you hit upon a unique idea or angle, and when you do, don’t waste it on a magazine submission. Save it for a contest. (As contestants can only enter unpublished material.)
If you have not entered contests, you’re missing a lot of fun. There are multiplied dozens of writer’s groups online, and most if not all of them have writing contests. Or you can search the word “writing contests” and come up with zillions to enter.
Look for these three things:
• Reading fees
• Entry fees
Fees generally total from $20 to $35 (although most of Creative Writing Institute’s contests are free). Contests that award huge prizes will cost more, as the entry fees subsidize the awards.
Don’t be hasty. Choose your contests wisely and enter at least twice a year. Placing in one contest will fire you up for months to come. Dig out the best story you have, render a few edits, and see for yourself what entering contests will do for you.
You’re worth it. Go ahead. Take a chance. Jump into adventure! TWENTY-FOUR HOURS BEFORE OUR ANTHOLOGY CONTEST ENDS on 2/28/13. HURRY! TEN WINNERS. NO FEE. CASH PRIZES. Check it out at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. And thanks for “liking” us before you leave!
TEN WINNERS! IT ISN’T TOO LATE!
Stories must be 1,000 – 1,750 words and may be any genre, but the following sentence must appear in the story: “Tonight we re-write the rules… ”
CASH PRIZES! NO FEES. Three cash winners and seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our first anthology and Ebook, entitled “OVERRULED!”
Accepting submissions until 2/28/13, USA EST.
Learn more at https://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/submit. Hurry! There’s still time. See your story in print!
Sponsored by Creative Writing Institute, the only school that gives you a private tutor.
The Pros and Cons of Entering a Writing Contest
by Ariel Pakizer, Volunteer Staff
Should you enter a writing contest? Most writers would like to, but stifle that desire by convincing themselves they aren’t good enough. It’s one thing to analyze your writing and know that you aren’t a Thoreau or Stephen King, but it’s another to think so little of your talent that you won’t enter a contest.
Rejection is a fearsome thing – particularly when you’re not used to it. Writing clubs can help prepare you for contesting. Check out writing.com and mywriterscircle.com. The former is a larger site and the latter is much smaller. Both are good. Both will give you opportunities to post your work and receive comments. You should reciprocate by doing the same, but now you may be thinking you’re not good enough to enter a contest AND you aren’t good enough to critique someone else’s work.
These are low self-esteem feelings. Recognize them as such, push them out of the way, and get on with life. Like everybody else, you’ll learn as you go.
Writing groups hold various kinds of contests. The prizes are small, but the point is, this is a good place to learn. If you’re ready to venture forth into contesting, GOOD FOR YOU! Search “writing contests” on the net and you’ll find all you want. The trick becomes, how do you sort through them? Which ones should you enter? Use this as a guide:
• Watch out for contest scams. Some places will ask for a $50 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 on you can pay a little more then win the grand-prize. The “winners” are told their work will appear in an anthology (collection of short stories or poetry), but of course, you have to buy it and do your best to sell them to friends and neighbors. If they sell for .99 cents, no problem, but some anthologies are quite expensive. Use common sense.
• Follow directions to a tee – or be disqualified.
• Enter smaller contests for a better chance at winning. Larger contests, such as Writer’s Digest, may have over 16,000 entries.
• What you should expect to pay: your entry and reading fee should be all you have to pay. These fees are what subsidize the awards, and are therefore necessary. Contest fees range from free to $100 per entry. A lot depends on the value of the prizes
• Winning the lottery is much akin to winning a writing contest. Against all odds, even when you think you don’t deserve to win – you may. Winning a contest is better than selling a story. Don’t cheat yourself out of this great learning experience.
Choose the contest that best suits you and your pocketbook and go for it! Contests usually come out in the spring and fall, so plan to gamble on yourself twice a year, if for nothing more than the fun of it. You’re worth it!
And by the way, Creative Writing Institute is holding its first Anthology Contest. NO FEE. CASH PRIZES! TEN WINNERS! This is one contest you don’t want to miss! Follow guidelines at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. Hey… don’t forget to click on the title and “like” us before you leave. Thanks!
Writing Courses Motivate, Stimulate, and Imitate Life
by Deborah Owen
ANTHOLOGY CONTEST NOW IN SESSION- No fee – Cash prizes
See Creative Writing Institute for details.
We creative writers are an odd bunch. Sometimes we can write. Sometimes we can’t. Sometimes we need inspiration. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we really feel like a writer. Other times we feel like we’re playing at writing.
For all you wannabe writers, if you can sit down and write about a picnic, a family function you attend, or a dream you have – you can be a writer! You just have to learn to channel your abilities in the right direction. The writing trade isn’t that hard to learn. No one is born with a pen in their hand. Writing is a learned trade.
• Do you want to be something more than you are? Look inside and what do you see? A new self trying to morph? How would you really like to evolve into that person? There is no better way to do it than through a writing course. As you learn to create characters and look at the world through their eyes, you will drift into a new dimension. Every piece of research, every piece of creativity will broaden your horizons and open your mind to new challenges. Become something you aren’t. Dare to see what you can be.
• Are your writing skills gathering rust? Wouldn’t you like the muse to stir until it compels you to write? Sometimes it takes a writing course to overcome the tediousness of daily life and help set a new routine. Do yourself a favor. March out the rhythm of your life to the beat of a writing course drum.
• Or perhaps you are an advanced writer. Maybe you think you would be bored in a class, and that you might not learn anything new. If that is the case, a wordsmithing course would be perfect for you. Learn to dissect the work of the masters so you can apply their secrets! Or perhaps you should branch out into a new field, if only for the experience of producing new zeal. Stretch yourself. If you have always written romance, change to writing for children, horror, sci-fi, or fantasy – there is so much to learn! The point is, don’t stagnate where you are. Grow by taking a writing course.
• Do you dangle your participles like worms? Do you split infinitives like wood? Do you even know what dangling participles and split infinitives are? Do you need a refresher course in punctuation? We have that, too.
• And there is one more good reason to take a writing course – to prove everyone wrong who doesn’t believe in you. Gain new stability in your life by believing in yourself. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself when no one else will. Take a writing course and put lift in your life.
Any way you look at it, a writing course is a good choice. It will motivate you, stir you, teach you, and expand your horizons. Learn how to create your own world, do it properly, and get paid for it. This is the best time of year to catch great writing course specials. Don’t see a special at Creative Writing Institute? Ask for one! Write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inside Contest Tips and Tricks You May Not Know
by Hugh Wilson, Volunteer Staff Writer for Creative Writing Institute
If you want to win a writing contest, the first thing you must do is study the rules, which are called guidelines. Many entries are disqualified because the story has not met every requirement, e.g. if the rules state a maximum of 1000 words, an 1150-word story, however brilliant, will be disqualified.
Assuming you’ve done that bit right, the judges will be looking at four elements:
Let’s look at each and see what they mean to us as writers.
Winning stories come from second, third, tenth thoughts. Some contests give you a theme – “Wedding Day” for instance. What’s the first thought that comes to mind? Forget it. You can bet your last dollar that everyone else will have thought it, too. Angle is what makes a good story. Make your angle different, and the judges will love you.
Don’t “wrack your brains” to get ideas. Relax. Get your conscious, critical mind out of the way, and allow ideas to bubble up. In other words, daydream.
Ask yourself who, what, where, when, how, and “what if?” Let the trains of thought go where they will. Before long, you’ll have an idea for a story that is different. For example: what if the bride’s dog got in the church and jumped all over her as she marched down the aisle? Torn wedding dress. Tears. People scrambling to catch the dog. Mayhem. And what would be the outcome?
Or suppose a shy looking woman entered and sat at the back? At the reception, she avoids conversations, eats and drinks, then leaves.
Back in her lonel one-room apartment, she scans the Forthcoming Marriages column in the local paper, to see where her next free food and wine is coming from.
You won’t go far wrong if you remember three little words: keep it simple.
Don’t try to impress the judges with long, obscure words and “writerly” language. Like any other readers, they want a story that is easy to read.
A short story doesn’t have much room for scenery. Every sentence must move the plotline forward. The reader doesn’t want flowery descriptions of a rose garden in the moonlight. She wants to know what the girl is doing there at two in the morning, and what happens next.
A story has three distinct parts: beginning, middle, and end.
The beginning introduces the main character and what the story is about. This is the background scene, and yet that first sentence must be a catchy one. That’s your hook.
The middle develops the theme and keeps the reader hooked.
The ending must be believable and leave the reader satisfied. Too many otherwise good contest entries simply stop when they reach the maximum word count, without a good resolution.
Always write specifically for that contest. Don’t be tempted to re-cycle an old story in the hope it just might fit the contest’s requirements. It won’t.
Above all, enjoy writing your short story entry, and the chances are the judges will like it.
Creative Writing Institute has a Spring Fling Anthology Contest going right now. It ends Feb. 28, 2013. No fee, cash prizes, and the best ten entries go into the anthology. Learn more at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.
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.
Writing Style, Mood, and Tone
by Mr. Lynn Carroll, writing tutor
Writing style is the elusive Holy Grail of the serious writer. Where does one find style? Certainly not on a store shelf or where X marks the spot on a treasure map. It isn’t written in ancient code, so where is it?
You’ll learn good writing stye when you study the masters — and also make it a point to study literature that has been published in the last five years. Can you copy style? Perhaps, to a certain extent. Here’s how: choose two or three paragraphs from an author you like. Read them over a few times and then rewrite them in your own voice. Read everything that author has written and a bit of it will rub off on you. Sorry, but that’s as close as you can get to copying someone else’s style.
Even the great painter, Michelangelo was once an apprentice. He unashamedly imitated the masters for years before he matured to his own style.
Style is something that comes from within. You can influence it, but you can’t change it to a large degree. Relax and be yourself. Since you’re a unique being and there is only one of you, your style will be unique.
Writing Mood and Tone
Mood and tone are part of style, and you can pull these two tools out of your toolbox at will, depending on the audience and needs of the article. Before you begin writing, set the mood and tone. What will it be? Light and breezy? Dark and gloomy? Informal and humorous? Somber and informative?
Whatever your choice, you must maintain the same mood and tone throughout the piece. This is part of what is known as unity. After you’ve made your choice, don’t try to mix somber with humor, or formal with informal.
There is much more to learn on this subject, and Creative Writing Institute will be happy to teach you. You need not wait for a new term to begin because we don’t use terms. Every student receives a private tutor. You can sign up today and start tonight. There’s no better way to learn than with a tutor, and no one will give you more individual attention than CWI. Be sure to enter our SHORT STORY CONTEST for BEGINNERS, now in session. Find information at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. CASH PRIZES!! Ends August 31, 2012.
by Pat Decker Nipper
Formatting a story is designing how it looks in print. Determine the layout of your manuscript by setting parameters. Look at examples of written material. Are the letters large enough to read comfortably? Are the lines far enough apart? How are the new paragraphs formatted?
Professional formatting will make your work shine. If you follow these standards, your manuscript will be ready to submit, whether in hard copy (paper) or online. Although the following is a commonly accepted standard for formatting, individual publications occasionally vary, so be sure to check before you submit.
The 2010 Writer’s Market has illustrations of formatting and includes good advice. They say to use white 8-1/2 x 11 paper, and “ …no artsy fonts.” They also suggest you use a laser or an ink-jet printer.
Below are the common formatting standards, as developed over years of creating documents.
1. Leave one inch of space on all four margins of the paper—top, bottom, and both sides.
2. Left justify your pages. That means every line should align on the left. The right margin is not justified, or in other words, it remains “ragged.”
3. Indent five spaces at the beginning of a new paragraph.
4. Choose an easy-to-read font. For PC users, try Times New Roman or Verdana. Macintosh users might like Palatino.
5. Set the font size at 12 point for easy readability.
6. Stay away from italics, except where needed to be grammatically correct.
7. Avoid bold, except in headings and areas where you want to emphasize text.
8. Double-space if you’re printing on paper. Single space if you’re submitting electronically, and in such case, double space between paragraphs.
9. In dialogue, each new speaker starts a new line.
10. Add your personal information in the upper left corner of the page. The title can carry over to the additional pages, along with a page number.
11. Center the title of the story and your name under it on the first page. Some publications want you to start the first page about one-third of the way down. Check their style and follow their example.
12. Avoid hyphenation at the ends of lines. e.c
These are general rules. Needless to say, guidelines always take president. For extra information, check The Chicago Manual of Style. You can even find it online. Another good one is The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. There are many more style guides on the Internet.
Pat Decker Nipper is a native Idahoan and former teacher, now living and writing in San Jose, California. She is the author of Love on the Lewis and Clark Trail and a number of short stories and articles. For more information visit www.patdeckernipper.com
Join the beginner’s short story contest at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. Contest closes Aug. 31, 2012. Please FOLLOW the guidelines so your entry won’t be disqualified. Don’t forget to click “like” before you leave!
Win a Short Story Contest
by Deborah Owen
What do judges look for when they read a short story entry? I helped judge a contest last year and I can tell you.
** The submission must follow ALL of the guidelines!
** A catchy title that lures the reader.
** A snappy first sentence that opens in the middle of an action scene.
** The story must hold interest from beginning to end. No sagging middle.
** Use action verbs.
** Judges love an unpredictable ending that resolves all the loose ends.
** There are no new stories. Only old stories told with new angles. In other words – originality.
** Be creative in the way you phrase your sentences. (By the way, third person, past tense stores are the most popular these days.)
** Avoid verbiage (wordiness), ‘dead words,’ (such as really, just, even, some. most, often, even, more, most – words that are not definitive), too many prepositional phrases per sentence, (no more than three, and no more than two in consecutive order).
** Style – the way in which you express yourself. Call upon every experience you know or have imagined. Call on your knowledge of other people’s experiences, but mix facts with fiction so the real person is unrecognizable.
** Technique – id hoe you structure your story. Does it use flashbacks? Is it fast or slow paced? How does the narration balance with the dialogue? Do the characters feel like real people?
** Does the reader feel satisfied with the ending? If you’re telling a real story, you’ll always have to manufacture a good ending.
** Let’s end where we began – FOLLOW the GUIDELINES.
When you edit, have a writer friend (not a family member) read it. Listen to their suggestions. On your last edit, read the story aloud and replace all verbs with the most action packed verbs you can dream up.
Do all of these things, and I guarantee you a good chance of winning. Good luck! Read about our short story contest for beginners at http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com. And hey – don’t forget to click “like” before you leave! Help us spread the word. The contest closes 8/31/12.