Notes & Suggestions
Our writing contests are pretty straight forward so don’t get all twisted worrying about it.
The number one goal is to try. Why not?
It is important in writing (and in life) to do things that challenge us and stretch us even the tiniest bit out of our comfort zone. This is a safe place to take risks. If you win, YAY! If you don’t, it isn’t the end of life as you know it.
In this life it’s important to stretch, to feel uncomfortable, to try something that challenges you. The Write Contest wants to provide an opportunity for you to shine, not just to win, but to explore your own artistic voice, perspectives, and reactions.
Where will your creativity lead you?
There is room here for all writers, artists, and creatives of every variation.
Relax… and make the contest what it needs to be for you.
If you are thinking, ‘Well that’s all fine and good, but I want to win baby!’ then here are some tips:
- Make sure you follow submission rules and deadlines. Don’t wait to the last minute.
- Title all work (the exception being KISS contests, see specific submission details). Titles don’t count in your word count and they are the judges first contact with your piece. That being said, make sure your title and any uploaded work does NOT include your name or identifying information. (NOTE: there is a ‘Contestant Name’ field during the submission process that is automatically filled with your name. It is hidden from the judges and your entry remains anonymous.)
- If it states a particular theme, then that theme must be intrinsic to your story.
- Get inspired by the structure and deadlines. Remember a complete and amazing story can be told with limited words. Most of our contests are not looking for excerpts of a larger vision, but a short complete piece. Have fun being challenged by the criteria and not limited by it.
- Take the time to read your work out loud. Hear how it sounds and if it catches or doesn’t flow in sections. You will catch a lot of nuances that get overlooked in your initial read throughs.
- Proofread and Don’t be afraid to cut and edit. You may notice your story really gets going in the third paragraph, be willing to ask yourself if you need the first two?
- Be open to multiple ideas. You can even write more than one option and choose your favorite to submit.
- Always be looking to make your writing just a little bit better than it was in your last draft or last contest. The point of contests are not just to win, they are to challenge yourself and help you push your own boundaries.
- Try to write something a little different, interesting, or surprising. There are always common themes and every story is unique, but try to explore your own voice and unique ideas rather than going with the first thing that pops into your head. Although, you may decide to go with your first idea, let it marinate for a bit.
- As we evolve, you will have the opportunity to read previous submissions and you can always read work by our judges, but be true to your own style and voice. There is never one ‘type’ of writing style or winner. Every judge is different. Every reader is different. Every creative individual’s paradigm is different. Always build on your craft and explore new directions. Not everyone will win the contest, but everyone can get something out of it.
- Beware of cliches. They can creep in like a dark and stormy night.
- A single point of view is clear and easy to read. You can write multiple points of view, but be cautious not to make your writing complex for no reason or make it a challenge for the judges to read.
- Strive for more active rather than passive voice. Active voice has the subject act on the verb (ie ‘Murphy chased the ball,’ is a stronger sentence than ‘The ball was chased by Murphy.’) You can use passive voice, just make sure it’s intentional and supports your style and voice.
- Use strong verbs rather than adverbs. Likewise avoid strings of adjectives. Again, you can break these rules, but make sure you are doing it by choice.
- It is a long-standing rule in writing to never use exclamation marks except possibly for a single word exclamation such as ‘No!’ (You may have noticed our website does not adhere to that rule! and I also use a lot of emojis. Sorry, not sorry.)
- Make your writing intentional. Write a draft and leave yourself time to read it and even edit. Proofread for obvious spelling and grammar, then take another pass and see if you need less words or more detail. Take time with your submission. (That being said, DON’T let yourself get stuck trying to find the perfect word or edit every sentence as you go along. Write the story and THEN revisit it.)
- You will receive submission details when you register for the contest. PLEASE follow them. All registrations are online and you can register and pay for a contest and then return later to the Submission tab to upload your work.
- Only use a single font in any submission and ONLY Use Times, Times New Roman, Courier, or New Courier 12-point typeface.
- Please do not personalize your submission, add that nice picture of yourself or add your pet dog (contrary to what you see on our site 😉) Contests are fair and unbiased. The only field that should have your name is the ‘Working Title’ which auto populates during registration. Nothing identifiable should be found in the title or body of your uploaded submission.
- Don’t take it personal. If you don’t win and/or think the story that did win is the worst bag of crap you’ve ever read…take a breath…and then remember that not every piece of your work will resonate with every person who reads it. Keep working on the best version of your unique voice and you will improve.
- Judges have no idea who you are. All submissions are anonymous and are judged solely on their merit. Don’t try to contact judges or question results. Our Judges are wonderful people who are always trying to support and encourage our creative community.
- Most of all, remember you are doing this for YOU. Have fun with it.
Be challenged. Be nervous. Be excited. Let it take you to new creative spaces and explore. And when you get freaked out and no matter what crazy, frustrated, pile of suck you think you created? SUBMIT it anyway.
It never fails that there is a moment when every creative panics and thinks (or absolutely knows without a doubt) that their work is grossly inadequate.
The Write Contest is about getting beyond that. It’s about doing it anyway. It’s about following through despite the crazy mean voices in your head. It’s about pushing yourself to try.
Truly, what’s the harm? You already paid. You can’t get your money back. And your name isn’t even listed (unless you win…*Woot Woot*). There is no bad side to just submitting.
If you win, Yay! If you don’t, Yay for challenging yourself and following through!
You got this.