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Short Story Competition

March 26th, 2014

If you don’t know already – our Short Story Competition has just opened and accepting entries, which makes this an opportune time for me to give you some advice on how to make your competition entry the very best it can be. Well, when I say I’ll give you the advice, what I really mean is I’m going to climb inside an expert’s head, pull out all the really good stuff and pass it on to you.

And, I have the perfect expert’s head to climb inside – competition judge Simon Whaley! He’s been a judge lots of times, so he knows what he’s talking about. But, the advice he gives is not just for entering our competition, it translates to all competitions you may choose to have a go at.

So, what does Simon say about competition entries? Well, he tells us that you should take care with spelling, grammar, submission guidelines and format – I think that much is obvious. But he also tells us that it is wise to do a bit of research on the judges’ preferences. He, for example, does not like science-fiction or fantasy, so if you submit a sci-fi story to an open competition that he’s judging, it’s not likely to do that well. Hmm… that’s not something I’d thought of. I assumed your entry would be judged purely on the merits of the writing, not the preferences of the judge – you learn something every day!

Anyway, here are the rest of Simon’s tips:

1. “Write something new specifically for each competition. I can spot a rejected magazine short story submission a mile off. If a magazine editor didn’t think it was up to scratch, then chances are I won’t either.”

2. “Ditch the clip art. This is a writing competition, not a painting competition. I want to read words not browse the entire catalogue of clip art on your computer.”

3. “Don’t write any comments for the judges. I once saw an entry that had the following handwritten note on the top – “I know the word count is 2000 words. This is 9000 but the quality of my writing is excellent.” Er… it wasn’t. Rules are rules no matter what the quality.”

4. “Put the right postage on your submission. The Royal Mail charges the addressee the difference and then applies a £1 surcharge for underpaid entries. No competition pays for the writer’s mistakes.”

5. “Treat your competition submission like any other submission. Grip the judge with an exciting opening paragraph and then deliver a confident resolution.”

Good luck!

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