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Writing Competitions

For any writer, writing competitions give them a chance to go head-to-head with their peers and be judged by people that know the writing game and can give objective results.

There are literally dozens of competitions to enter, for both poetry and prose, all over the World and throughout the year - some of the main ones are listed here. But there are some things to watch out for when entering them - I’ll list a few do’s and don’t's below.

Do read the competition rules carefully!

Do check your story is of the required length

Do make sure your story is in before the closure deadline or it won’t get read!

Do double-space your lines and leave a clear, wide border.

Don’t print your story off on gaudy coloured paper - white only!

Don’t use ‘arty’ or florid fonts - it drives judges mad (and won’t get read).

Don’t tie your story up in pink (or any other colour) ribbons.

Don’t have fancy little borders or pictures of mice/rabbits/roses/anything on the page!

Don’t bind your story, staple it (unless told to do so) or make it into ‘a book’.

Don’t justify the text - leave the right-hand margins ‘ragged’

If you follow the above advice, you will be ahead of probably a third of the entries who have done (or not done) what’s listed above. Keep it simple, read the rules and present like a professional. I’m not saying it will win the competition for you but at least it’ll get read!

I don’t pretend to be the last word in writing advice, so why not check out what others have to say? Rachel Plummer gives her own advice on How To Write And Publish Your Novel - and she should know. Why? Click the link and find out!

The next question is, of course - where do I find all these competitions? I’ve listed some website addresses below to get you started, or visit our links page for quick access to  some useful sites. Writing competitions go on year round, they never stop and there are more to enter than you could ever hope to write for. If you’re a new writer, my advice would be to decide on which type of story you want to write and then, in methodical fashion, go through all the lists available marking off the ones in which you wish to compete. This will help you to focus your efforts and hopefully produce results more quickly than if you just adopt a haphazard approach. RSS feeds are available at many of the writing competition websites and I would suggest that you take advantage of them - it just saves time that you can then put towards your writing! Good luck.

A well-respected site, Poets & Writers Magazine is a comprehensive writer’s source - well worth a look!

The Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau (JBWB) is another site that provides a rich resource for writing competition and much more besides. Give it a try.

The National Association of Writer’s Groups (NAWG) is a UK resource group for writers and has a list of UK festivals and competitions.

Askabout lists many competitions within its pages. Updated weekly it is a very good source for writers.