Monday, 9 May 2011

Choosing Which Short Story Competitions to Enter

I've been asked to be the final judge for a creative writing competition next year. It's got lots of different categories - short story, monologue, essay, age groups etc - so the organisers helpfully sent me a breakdown of last year's entries so I could see how much work was involved. Overall there were about 350 entries, but in the adult short story category there were....16.

Yes. 16.

I checked with the organisers, and the number is accurate. Most short story competitions that I've been final judge for have had a short list of 15-20 so that means if you entered this competition you would be automatically on the short list.

It has to be said that this competition isn't as prestigious as, say, winning the Bridport Prize and I'm not sure if there's a cash prize, but if there is, it won't be much. But then, if you were entering competitions for the money then I think you'd be better off going in for the lottery. On the other hand, if you were entering competitions for the warm glow of success, or clocking up credits then this would be a great competition to go in for.

Decide what you're looking for - money, prestige, credits - then go for most appropriate competition you can find. If it's credits, then look locally. My first short story success was in a competition run by a local firm of solicitors together with the local paper. I don't know how many entries there were, but I came 2nd and the thrill has kept me going all this time.


Liz Fielding said...

I can still feel the warm glow of winning an Easter Egg in a hymn writing competition at school, Sarah.

Sarah Duncan said...

Can you remember the hymn you wrote?

Liz Fielding said...

Er, no. My abiding memory is the way everyone took a large step back when a sixth form prefect summoned me to Reverend Mother's office. (No one ever saw her - she only spoke French.) The awed "What have you done!"

I had no idea, but was convinced I was going to be expelled.

My knees were knocking. My class mates were all waiting - not wanting to miss my disgrace - when I returned clutching the Easter Egg. For a day I was a bit of a hero - not for winning the comp, but for having been in RM's study. :)