How To Win A Short Story Contest  - 5 Critical Tips

Posted on: 18th August 2014

Win A Short Story ContestTo win a short story contest you need to keep in mind that you are competing against other proficient writers who want to win just like you. Hence, you have to put in your best efforts if you really want a go at the top prize. Here are a few top tips that will definitely help you:

  1. It should engage the reader from the first line itself – in a short story, the beginning is extremely important. Does it capture the attention of the reader from the first line itself? Does the first paragraph compel the reader to read on, to want to know more, to be intrigued by the plot? This is the first ingredient that makes a winning short story.
  1. Does it play on the emotions of the reader -  does it stir a strong emotion? Does it make the reader angry, sad, curious, happy? Does it provoke laughter? Does it force the mind to think? Your story has to be provocative emotionally. Wit and humor are on the top two winning attractions; but other emotions are good, too.
  1. Does your short story feel whole – the story should leave the reader satisfied that he has read one whole story. An unresolved mystery that allow the reader’s imagination interpret the possible end is good as long as the story hold as a whole. However, if even with the end spelled out the story feels unfinished, the story will not score much.
  1. Vocabulary and language – a writer is supposed to have complete command on language. The language might not be necessarily poetic, but it should be concise, engaging and picturesque. Used right, every word can paint a picture in the mind of the reader; every word can trigger the imagination.

This is the reason that most people prefer reading to seeing a movie – because when you read you use your imagination, while a movie limits it to what is shown. Get away from clichés, clumsy sentences and bombastic words. Keep Reader’s Digest style of writing in mind, if you are yet to find your own. In other words, keep the words simple, language engaging and story free flowing.

  1. Grammar, spelling and punctuation – the presentation of the story is hugely important. Go back after you have completed the story and read it twice. Leave it for a few days, and then again read it with fresh eyes. Correct all grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes. There is no greater put off than encountering these types of errors when reading a story.

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