Tips to Making Writing Competitions Work For You
There is a certain feeling of satisfaction that comes with winning a competition, and a certain feeling of dissatisfaction when you don't take home a prize.
Most people who enter writing competitions will secretly read the winning entry and feel cheated; as far as they're concerned, their own entry was better. Don't beat yourself up, though. Judges use their own methods to judge a competition. While you may focus on story, the judge may focus on technical execution: or vice versa.
As a writer it's important to look at each competition as a learning experience, not a personal insult.
When you send a piece into a writing competition, it's always a good idea to look for competitions that have optional critics. These critics will offer valuable insight on ways to improve your work, increasing your odds of winning the next time.
Big name writing competitions are always worth entering. Although these competitions will require a small fee to enter, the payoff can be huge. Not only will your work be placed in front of well respected judges, if your piece wins your work will gain national publicity. Add to this the huge amount of prize money, and it's definitely worth taking a chance.
Winning becomes a lot easier when your work is shortlisted in a local competition. You need to take the next big step by entering bigger contests if you want to become an international writer. If your entry is shortlisted in a large competition you can be sure of significant recognition: plus it’s a great line to include in your bio.
The judges will have the last say on who is the winner, but being shortlisted means your work was good enough to be considered for the winning prize.
Try not to do anything silly to get your work in front of the judges. For example, don't go over the top with fancy decorations: this could cause disqualification. The first thing the judge will look at is your title. Come up with something eye catching. It must have relation to the content and also offer intrigue. This can be done by including mysterious characters, word combinations, a question or a metaphor. Its always good to read other short stories and pay special attention to what the winning titles were.