Flash Fiction Contest

Creative Writing Institute Short Story Contest 2017

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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!

First place:

* $150 and Gold eMedal OR a free, privately tutored writing course valued at $260

Second place:

* $100 and Silver eMedal OR $200 applied toward a privately tutored writing course

Third place:

* $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.

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“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 jianna.higgins@gmail.com.

 

NEW 2016 ANTHOLOGY Win $10 Gift Card!

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Get thirty short stories written by short story contest winners, invited best-selling writers, contest finalists, judges, CWI staff, and guests! The perfect gift for relatives, readers and writers. For a chance to win a FREE  $10   Amazon gift card, share this ad on Facebook  Dec. 6. Every time you share it, your name goes into a drawing. We will draw THREE winners at midnight Dec. 6, EST. Winners will be announced at www.CWInst.com. Get the new anthology, called EXPLAIN, at http://amzn.to/2gQiKCH.

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Creative Writing Institute, at your service, meeting all your writing needs.

The only school where very student gets a private tutor!

How to Win a Short Story Contest

 

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 ms.jo@cwinst.com and ask.

Assuming you follow the guidelines, the judges will look at the following four elements.

  • Originality
  • Creativity
  • Style
  • Technique

Originality

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.

Creativity

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.

Style

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.

Technique

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.

Short Story Contest Opens

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http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com

First, second and third place winners and seven additional Judge’s Choice stories will receive publication in our fourth annual anthology. In addition, we are giving cash prizes and professionally designed eMedals to post on your site. (See medals below.)

First place: Professionally designed Gold eMedal and $100, plus publication

Second place: Striking Silver eMedal and $50, plus publication

Third place: Brilliant Bronze eMedal and $25, plus publication

Fourth and Fifth place: Finalist eMedal and publication

This is a themed contest and this exact sentence must appear in the story:

 “Explain how that happened.”

 Open genre.

  • Your story must be between 1,500 and 2,000 words.
  • No swearing, profanity, explicit sexual scenes, graphic violence, etc.
  • Your story must not have been published before. Winners grant minor editing rights for publication; Creative Writing Institute has first, non-exclusive, electronic rights to publish the winners and Judge’s Pick stories in our anthology. All Rights return to the author upon publication.
  • ONE submission per person, please.
  • Accepting submissions from July 15, 2016, until September 15, 2016, midnight, USA Eastern Standard Time.
  • Entries will only be accepted through the form at https://CreativeWritingInstitute.submittable.com/submit.
  • As you go through the submission process, there will be a space for you to copy and paste your document. Do NOT email attachments.
  • Entry fee $5.

Please direct questions to Ms. Jo Popek, head judge, at Ms.Jo@CWinst.com. Our special thanks to all judges and award winning Competition Co-coordinator, Jianna Higgins.

Sign up for The Writer’s Choice newsletter to receive articles that teach you how to win contests. Top right corner of http://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.

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Creative Writing Institute’s Short Story Contest

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

CEO, Deborah Owen’s First Story

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 Contest Winners Announced!

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  

Honorable Mentions

*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!

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WINNING WAYS

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:

• Originality

• Creativity

• Style

• Technique

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.

Originality.

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.

Creativity

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.

Style

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.

Technique

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.

And finally…

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.

Scam Contests

Be Aware

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.

Learning How to Deal with Rejection

You’re Not Alone

by Deborah Owen

Creative writers have a hard time dealing with criticism – constructive or otherwise. After all, our written words are our babies, and how dare anyone criticize or edit them! Right? Wrong. That is a beginner’s belief (and, of course, you may be a beginner). When you can ask for, receive, and apply constructive feedback, you have made the first huge leap to successful writing.

One of the best ways to do this is to join a writing club. There are dozens of them, but two of the best are writing.com (larger) and mywritersgroup.com (smaller). You can publish your stories on the site and let other writers read and rate them. Then it’s your turn to visit their port, read, and rate their articles.

Will anyone hurt your feelings? Probably. But what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. And if anyone gets downright nasty with you, report him or her to the site’s headmaster. Rude critiques are never welcome on either of these sites, but once in a while it happens.

For example, many years ago I had one story that consistently drew a five star rating, but one day a woman rated it one star and wrote this message: “If you really want to be a good writer, you need to read good authors so you’ll know what good writing is. I rated your story one star only because I couldn’t rate it one-half star, but I admit I only read the first paragraph.”

I felt like a wooly worm, squished by a dump truck full of manure. I didn’t know I should have turned her in, so I licked my wounds and stayed quiet, but a supervisor happened by my site and saw the message. She told the headmaster, who wrote to the woman and banned her from ever reviewing anyone again. As for me, the damage was done. I didn’t accept another critique for a year, but I learned two things.

1 – Pay no attention to rude people with swollen heads.

2 – Write snappy first paragraphs!

A year later I received another critique which read, “I hope you’ll receive this critique in the spirit in which it is given as I only want to help you.” My defenses dropped like a rock. The point is – criticism can seriously wound a new writer – and genuine help can heal a wounded writer. To this day, I accept 95% of all critiques. At first I did it as an experiment, but when my ratings soared, I did it because I knew I was learning.

Dealing with rejection is a part of every writer’s life. Learn who to share your work with. Don’t let family members or friends (who are not published writers) read your work. They don’t know what they’re talking about and they’ll run over you rough shod. It’s much easier to learn from strangers.

When you try to sell your work, you’ll receive rejection slips. Keep them. I know one woman who made a collage out of hers and saved the middle space on her wall for her first acceptance slip.

Rejection is a continual learning process. Ultimately, you will either grow a thick hide or get out of the writing business.

If you liked this article, be sure to follow our blog here on WordPress! You can also find links for our Facebook and Twitter pages at our website: www.CreativeWritingInstitute.com.

Writers – Enter Contests! Join the Excitement!

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
• Deadline

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!

Anthology Contest Closes 2/28/13

WRITING CONTEST

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.

Enter a Writing Contest! Get Brave!

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!

5 Reasons Why You Should Take a Writing Course

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 deborahowen@cwinst.com.

How to Win a Contest

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:

• Originality
• Creativity
• Style
• Technique

Let’s look at each and see what they mean to us as writers.

Originality

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.

Creativity

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.

Style

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.

Technique

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.

And finally…

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.

Enter a Writing Contest! Get Brave!

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!
(additional gifts)
* 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.

How to Develop Style, Mood, Tone, and Unity

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.

How to Format a Short Story

Formatting Tips

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!

         

What Judges Look for in a Short Story

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.