One of the surest ways of winning a writing competition is adhering to the traditional standards of writing. Even if it is a creative writing contest, there is no need to discard these general rules; especially when the competition is being held by a college or university.
For literature competitions, depth and clever usage of language is required. Special emphasis should be placed on interesting characters and settings instead of the plot. If you are writing a short story, it’s best you do this from a single point of view: no need to confuse the judge.
If the competition is a simple writing competition, judges will choose popular fiction over well written literature. In this case you should place emphasis on plot. Craft an excellent opening line and follow the main character’s conflict. Trials and tribulations are a great way of holding your audience, so give your main character a great challenge with plenty of twists and turns.
If the rules of the competition mention a specific rule then it needs to be intrinsic to the entire story. If the contest asks you to write about a specific topic, don’t write about something else. If the judges are looking for a specific writing style, stick to it.
Use the correct tense when you are entering a competition. The present tense is fashionable, but it may not be the best for the type of story that you are writing. If you are writing a story in which everything takes place right now, then the present tense is correct. If the story takes place in the past, then you should use the past tense.
On that note, always choose an active voice when writing your story; passive voices are not fun.
Your title is much more important than you think. The title is the first thing that the judge will see when they look at your work, and first impressions are important. Quality time must be spent coming up with an appropriate title.
Re-reading and re-working your writing will help you to produce quality work, so be sure to spend a lot of time proofreading your work. One of the best ways to spot mistakes is to read your work out loud. If the judges are having a difficult time deciding between two stories that are both well written, and one has an incorrectly spelt word or a missing comma, it’s a no brainer as to who they will choose.