by Jeanette O'Hagan
Have you ever though of entering a writing competition? Does it sound scary?
Not all writing competitions are the same. Some major prizes are for published fiction, others are for unpublished works or writers. Omega Writers CALEB prize alternates between published and unpublished each year. But by far the most competitions are for short stories, flash fiction and/or poetry. The Australian Writers Centre has a monthly writing competition with a maximum of 500 words while Faith Writers challenges are 750 words. Poetica Christi have annual poetry competition and publishes an anthology of the best entries.
How can you tell a story in just 500 words or less? A poignant story in six words story (attributed to classic novelist Ernest Hemmingway) goes, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
If you haven't tackled short fiction before, I discuss it in more depth here.
My first serious sometimes in the lull times between patients. Writing long fiction felt natural to me and ideas for short stories seemed naturally to turn into novels.
But there's more to writing a novel (or a memoir or a biography) than writing down one word after another. Especially if we want other people to read it (not just family and friends). Yet the journey to publication can be long and frustrating. I discovered that writing short stories and submitting them to anthologies and writing competitions helped me towards my bigger goal of finishing and publishing my novels. To be honest, I struggled (and still struggle) with keeping my stories close to the word count. But I kept at it and now I enjoy writing short fiction and poetry.
So why enter a writing competitions?
1. Often there's the a prize awarded to place getters. The bigger the prize, usually the greater number of entrants and application fees may be higher too.
2. Winning a competition can add kudos and make a writer more visible to publishers and readers.
3. You can add the win to your bio or C.V. 'Award-winning author (or writer, or poet)' sounds great - though sometimes, like best-selling author, a little overdone these days.
4. Some competitions offer the possibility of publication (in print and/or on the website) for the place getters or those on the long list.
But there are other benefits even if you don't place in the competition.
5. Some competitions, like CALEB, offer feedback either to the individual writer or as a general comments on all the entries.
6. Competitions often give a theme or writing prompt to work to and offer a deadline which can provide extra motivation to write.
7. The discipline of writing to a word limit and making every word count helps hone writing skills that can be transferred to other, longer forms of writing. This is true of poetry too, were each word and sometime each syllable has an impact.
8. Your short story or flash fiction can become the basis for a longer work.
9. You can have a satisfaction of finishing something.
10. And you could win! One things for sure, you need 'to be in it, to win it.'
What have you got to lose?
So check that the organisation is credible, that entry fees are commensurate with the prize offered, and, if your work might be published, what rights are requested.
So, now you're all fired up - where to enter. Writing groups (like QWC, AWC) often list contests. Stories of Life, Faithwriters, Genesis, Poetica Christi, CALEB, Stringybark, state and regional literary prizes etc. There are many and various competitions to enter. And one more - the OWBF2021 Writing Competition.
OWBF2021 Inaugural Writing Competition
And it just so happens that the Omega Writers Book Fair (Brisbane) is running a writing contest this year - for a short story (up to 1000 words) or poem (up to 50 lines) on the theme of Hope.
There's a small entry fee ($7 with a discount for Omega Writers members, with the code on the Omega Writers Facebook member group) and prize $50 plus a certificate for the winners of each category. Entrants must be residents of Australia or New Zeland.
Winners will be announced at the Omega Writers Book Fair on 31 July 2021. The deadline for entries is the 1st July 2021
To find out more check out the instructions here and for ongoing information check out the OWBF's Facebook page or email firstname.lastname@example.org
and receive a free short story.