Tips on How to Win Short Story Competitions

Posted on: 2nd July 2014

Are you thinking of joining a short story competition? Do you think you got the right plot and story line to win it? Yes? Awesome! If you have done this before or have done a lot of writing before, well you have less work to do. But if this is your first time or you do not have any experience or practice in writing you must first realize that you are facing a very tough challenge. We understand that your life might have been focused somewhere else and it is only now that you are willing to pursue and develop this passion that is lurking inside you.

We know, carrying around a great story in your head is very exciting but we also know that putting it properly on paper is very difficult. We are not discouraging you, in fact we are trying to set you on the right track, but you must first realize the initial or basic problems that you might face. Well, if you haven’t done any writing before or have not done a lot of reading, you will need to brush up on your grammar, spelling and learning. You also need to read books, especially the award winning books and short stories. You can learn a lot from them, study them, learn how they use the words, and as your experience grows you will begin to develop your own style of writing.

Please do not be daunted by the task ahead of you.  Do not let minor obstacles stop you from reaching and fulfilling your dreams. Really! You don’t have to win a competition or come out on top to have a sense of fulfilment, finishing a nice well made story is an accomplishment enough. A well written, well polished story is a goal that can be reached. Always striving to do your best is the benchmark.   Do not let your spirit be quashed by fears and criticism. Remember that you will never know what you can accomplish if you don’t try.

Win Short Story CompetitionsHere are some tips to win short story competitions:

  • As you begin to develop your story, do all the necessary research needed. Publishers, judges, and critics are very keen and strict about accurate information.
  • Great title is one of the most important parts of your work. Choose it well, take a long time if you need it, and make it appealing, eye catching and exciting. Remember that it creates the first impression of your work.
  • Know what kind of writing competition you are joining. Writing competitions are looking for popular story lines, great plots and absorbing characters and captivating opening lines.  Literary contests are more on the witty use of language, depth and creativity. And other competitions run by academics from universities and colleges are looking for more traditional styles that adhere to correctness and rules.
  • Always know and follow the rules, mail your manuscript early. For online submission, send in the correct file format.
  • Some competitions have themes, and the theme must be incorporated to your story.
  • Like what was mentioned earlier, use proper grammar, spelling and the right tense. Always strive to write a finely crafted story.
  • Use active words than passive, more verb than adverbs avoid using exclamation marks other than on single words. Try to avoid using cliché, avoid using several adjectives.
  • Try to write something fresh and different. Based on the theme imagine what others will write about, then totally avoid those story lines and create something different.
  • If you know who the judges will be, study their works and interest. Also read the works of previous winners, you will get some idea of what the judges or publishers are looking for.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread, keep reading your work and read it aloud so you will know how it sounds, then proofread again and again.
  • Submit early, preferably before deadline, Give the judges time to leisurely read your work, instead of being in a rush. Judges might be in too much of a hurry to appreciate your work.
  • And please do not be disappointed if you do not win nor be angry if you received comments that are painful to accept. It is their job to point out things that you might have missed. Graciously accept their decision and learn from your experience. Do not give up, keep writing even if you encounter setbacks, hone your writing skill, and keep the passion burning in your heart.

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