Posts Tagged Alison Chisholm
This week I’ve been thinking about my entry for the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook Short Story Competition.
As I’m sure most of you know, the first prize is £500 and an Arvon writing course. So it’s a prize worth winning and it’s also free entry – which makes it doubly good! But the closing date is 15th February 2014 – so it’s time to start getting my entry together.
Iain judges a lot of competitions. In the book he gives the following reason for why a lot of stories fail in competitions:
The stories were obviously written for a women’s magazine and failed to find a home. Therefore they often have a domestic setting, a female protagonist, a twist ending and the plot is a variation on a theme. The stories lack an individual voice.
As a judge, Iain wants to be taken somewhere he’s never been before. He doesn’t want to read about office life and how the junior is plotting revenge on the boss who passed her over for promotion.
So, it seems there’s no point in me going through my rejected womag stories to find one that might fit a theme of ‘The Visit’.
Incidentally, Iain suggests that this may be why men might seem to do better in writing competitions. Fewer of them write for women’s magazines and therefore they compose a fresh story for a competition without the restrictions of womag writing.
What does anyone else think? Have you ever won/been shortlisted in a competition with a story originally written for a womag?
And talking of competitions, Nick Daws is running a Guest Post Competition over on his blog. First prize is $50 (or the equivalent in UK pounds). The post must be on a topic of interest to writers and be 500 – 1000 words long. Closing date is 31st January 2014 and entry is free. He ran a similar competition last year and then I was lucky enough to be the winner – this time it could be you!
Finally, the first anniversary of the publication of One Day for Me is almost upon us and next week I will be announcing a special offer …
Chapter 2 deals with targeting the right sort of competitions to increase your chances of success. Iain and Alison advise a few ways of doing this:
- Forget the big internationals and concentrate on small competitions that will attract fewer entrants. Not many of us are likely to get anywhere in something like the Bridport but we might stand a chance of being placed in a local writing competition. I would much rather win a book token in a small competition than see my entry disappear into the black hole of well-publicised literary contest.
- Choose a competition with a difficult theme – this will put many entrants off because it’s too much of a challenge and a previously written story can’t be recycled to fit the subject. Competitions with an open theme attract the most entrants.
- Try competitions where entry is limited by the rules – for example competitions restricted to unpublished writers or to writers of a certain age or to those living in a specified area
Iain and Alison also advise targeting contests where the entry fee is high compared to the prize fund. This is because we are all naturally mean and therefore the number of entrants will be low. I’m afraid my own natural meanness won’t let me endorse this advice but I can see that there is logic in this method of choosing where to send your work. So if you’re not as tight with money as me, you might want to try it.
And speaking of relatively small competitions (& I don’t mean that in a derogatory way), Bev Morley is running a short story competition on the theme of ‘Christmas’ via her blog. First, second and third prizes are £50, £25 and £10 respectively plus publication in a Kindle anthology, up to 12 further stories will also be included in the anthology. The word limit is 3,000 and closing date 30th September. Entry by email only and the fee is £3. Full details are here.
‘Writing Competitions – the way to win’ is worth a read if you want to increase your chances of success in competitions.