14 Tips For Entering Short Story Competitions


If you want to do well when you write a short story, consider these tips for entering writing competitions.

Admin stuff:

  1. Spend some time on the competition website. Every competition has a tone and a mood. Spend some time on the site reading the stories and take note of their writing advice.
  2. Follow the instructions. Some competitions have more rules than others. If there is a word count, a prompt or any instructions follow them exactly. In the rush to meet the deadline we often miss the important bits. Don’t get disqualified.
  3. Check Terms and Conditions and eligibility. Make sure that you understand and agree with the terms and conditions. Are you eligible to enter the competition? Are you able to submit in time for the deadline?
  4. Play to your strengths. Submit your best writing. Duh, right? All have writers have strengths and weaknesses, make sure you are showcasing your strengths.
  5. Spell check and proofread. Again, and again. Don’t let a typo steal your thunder.

Writing stuff:

  1. Write in one sitting. Unlike a novel, you can write a whole short story all at once. That immediacy will help you.
  2. Forget the rules. When you are writing the first draft, forget about every single writing ‘rule’ you have ever heard. Simply write the crap out of it.
  3. Pack a punch. Don’t hold back on the story. Go for the jugular, take your reader’s breath away.
  4. Let it breathe. If you are happy with your story let it breathe for a moment. Come back to it a day or so later.
  5. Rewrite. Save a new draft and rewrite. Consider all the ‘rules’ you ignored previously and decide which of those rules will work with your story.
  6. Patience. Give it another day or so if you have the time and then reconsider your story.
  7. Repeat, if needed.  Rework the story if it is necessary.
  8. Format, proofread and spellcheck. Tidy it up and make it look good.
  9. Submit. Check and double check the fine print and submit your story.

If you want to learn how to write a short story, join us for Short Cuts in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

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