Tips to win Creative Writing Contest
Writing contests can be frigthening . Most writers think, “I’ll never win,” and hence ignore contests completely. But—surprise!—some are easy writing contests, but only if you know how to play the game in your favor.
Here Are Some Strategies To Win Creative Writing Contests
Take advantge of your niche
There is a specific creative writing contest for just about every writer and every subject. When you enter a contest that has a limited number of entrants due to restrictions, you increase your chances of wining . The key is finding contests which are open to your particular type of writing
You can find find a decent list of creative writing contests on internet.
Choose an emotional topic
Judges are humans like you and they too get bored reading page after page of the “same old, same old” work which are typically submitted to writing contests. So make your readers’ hearts feel happy while reading. Make them laugh or weep with misery. Please note that many a times the most deeply emotional moments of our lives are subtle and quiet and many times they’re as noisy .Whatever trick you choose, go for judge’s emotional chord.
You might think this tip goes without saying but we are saying it again to STRESS the importance of the proof reading.
Follow the submission guidelines
This tip should be quiet easy to understand . But because writing contests tend to have submission guidelines that are specific on many items, some writers unintentionally overlook the “little things” when it comes to following the rules.
Keep in mind: Submissions that DON’T follow the guidelines are usually disqualified right from the start. If your writing contest submission meets the guidelines, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. The odds are in your favor!
Participate in multiple writing contests
While it would really be great to win a “big ” writing contest, smart writers know not to ignore contests that are new and not as popular as the big established names.
Winning a small contest could be of great value for your writing career exposure, connections, prize money,self confidence . Submitting to a range of contests maximizes the likelihood that you’ll win one of them.
Submit your writing that is appropriate for the contest
While there are many free writing contests most contests require writers to pay an entry fee. So it doesn’t make sense to enter a contest that is not fit for your submission. But there is a catch to avoiding contests that don’t seem like a “perfect” for you . If you’re on the fence, submit anyway (after all, you can’t intimately know the judges’ judgement skills !). Just be realistic: Don’t submit a poem about cats to a writing contest about constitution.
Surprise your readers
Take risks. Do something which is beyond regular and refreshing. When it comes to creative writing submissions, editors have “seen it all.” Show them something surprising ,new and you will be ahead in the race
Remember: Submissions Are a Numbers Game
If you initially don’t win writing contests that you submit to, don’t lose hope. Judges take their decisions based on subjective responses—so keep submitting your writing pieces. The only way to win a creative writing contest is to enter. And if you follow our tips, you’ll be ahead of the game.
How to win Story writing Contests
i have judged few writing contests Few critical mistakes appear again and again and it’s these mistakes the judges consider as they make the toughest decisions.
Target the theme
If the contest has a theme, make sure you adhere to it. You might be a great story teller—but if you ignore the theme, skip part of it, or in any way disobey the contest guidelines, that’s a quick way to get your story disqualified.
Focus on a right sized story
Choose a story idea whose scope fits within the word count requirements.
Structure your story with clarity in mind
When you’re working within a word count, overcomplicating your story can quickly confuse your readers. Make sure that transitions are clear and each new element in your story—a new scene, a new character, a new plot twist—moves the story forward rather than confusing
It can be hard to judge what’s confusing in your own writing, so have someone read your story before you submit.
Make your readers interested with a brilliant first line
The first sentence of your story is your chance to make an amazing first impression. A powerful, surprising, and impressing first line will capture the judges’ interest at the begining and make them look forward to reading the rest.
Writing contest judges read hundreds of stories in a short amount of time. Make sure your first line gets them excited to give attention to your piece.
Get straight to the point
In a 1,500 word story, you don’t have leverage to write long backstories Don’t open the story with paragraphs setting the scene. Instead, start your story at the moment when “unnecessary” ends.
Give your characters a goal
Everyone wants something. It might be as walk to nearby sea beach or as profound as one more day with their terminally ill grandfather.
Whatever it is, their want that drive the story.
Make sure your character has a goal they’re pursuing. Stories about characters without goals wander, leaving readers confused about why they are reading at all. Stories about characters who have clear goals and take decisions to pursue them keep us interested enough to continue reading
Cut excess words to focus on the story
Are you 700 words over the limit and stuck at what to cut? Look for:
your readers dont need to know the complete past of your character. It’s tempting to include every minute details of their history that led them to this moment, but that will burden readers with unnecessary information.
Get everything you want to tell on the page in the first draft. Then, as you edit, challenge yourself to cut as much backstory as possible.
Pro tip: if there’s an important information readers (and characters) need to know, use it as a surprising revelation to fuel the plot.
Does a detail move the story forward? Does it reveal something about the character or the plot that we need to know? If so, great! If not, cut it.
Cut them without emotions. “The road to hell is paved with adverbs” is famous line by Stephen king. Always keep in mind and especially true when you’re limited to just 1,500 words.
Make your characters choose
This is the the crucial moment to focus on. At some point in the story, your character must make a decision. During the story, tension builds up,plot thicken, stakes rise, and risks become greater.
As the climax of your story , bring your character to a critical dilemma where they must choose how they will respond.
If your character moves without making a choice, or if they let the people around them choose for them, the story will feel not be too satisfying.
But as they choose something and then face the consequences of their decision, we’ll be riveted, wondering, how will they handle what happens next?
Make sure something changes
Something must be different as a result of your characters choice.
Remember, stories are about change. If your character finishes the story in the same place they began, your readers will wonder why they bothered to read it in the first place.
Nail the ending
The first 1,400 words of your 1,500-word story are mind blowing . You don’t have much space to wrap it up, can you do it ? NO
It’s really hard to write the perfect ending to a short story, the conclusion that will tie up the loose ends neatly and still leaving the story mysterious .
Judges know that and still look for the perfect ending.
A short story is complete in and of itself. It’s not the first chapter of a novel, or a teaser into something larger. Make sure your story stands alone.
An otherwise excellent story that fails to nail the ending won’t Win. Take the time to get your ending right.
What not to do for story writing contests
Never start with daily chores
The weather was good ,bright and the sun was at its might . I looked at the sun and it looked back. Is it interesting enough ? NO. So, dont offer ususal chores of life .Start with one of two things, and preferably both: People and conflict.
Those two things are the essence of any story. . People and conflict will drive your story forward, will be the essence of everything you write. So start with people and conflict.
Dont make your first paragraph lengthy
Readers are smart but impatient. It is all rigth to directly land straight into your story without explaining – straight into the conflict
It’s amazing how many stories are instantly improved by simply covering up the first paragraph. Try it. Your first paragraph is cant be a regular bright sunny day.
So once you think you are done with your story, go back and see what happens in your first paragraph. You might not have realised it was the perfect opening line when you wrote it, but you can find it now and cut everything that comes before it.
Don’t write a “supernatural story”
Spooky stories are wonderful. But for a writing competition they give you a lot of problems. First, everybody thinks they can write them. But you want to stand out and win the story contest . Second, it’s very hard to come up with anything supernatural that hasn’t already been written a earlier . So how can you make your story unpredictable?
Dont use celebrities or characters that already exist
Using celebs is pretty typical. And it’s understandable too: it’s easy to use a celebrity or existing character to your story.You don’t have to do any of the work of creating a character from scratch.Fan fiction is great but it’s not going to win a creative writing competition.
Make Character your own. Change the name. Change the situation. Try exaggerating an aspect of the personality to make your point bolder.
Dont panic and bombard with fancy words
Pretend you’re still a young kid who just wants to hear a story. Focus on that.
Count your adjectives. Try to limit yourself to a couple per page.Count your adverbs. cut all of them. Nobody wants you to break the English language into a new dimension. Readers just want to hear a story.
Dont leave any word of your story unchallenged.
The best stories are the most re-written stories. And the more you re-write, the more you’ll stand out from every other entry in a creative writing competition.
Make every line count for the story, not for its own beauty.
Having come this far, why dont you try to test yourself in one of the ongoing creative writing contest. You get a chance to win a certificate from Chetan Bhagat and prizes worth 3000 USD.