Francesca takes a look at how to stand out from the crowd in a themed contest and has a diverse batch of competitions to enter this month.

Depending on what competition you’ve entered, you could be pitted against thirty other people, or thousands. If the competition has a theme, this makes coming up with an original idea, one that the judges aren’t going to groan at because they’ve already read fifty other entries with the same idea, quite difficult. Ideas are all around us, and if you’re like me, you’re forever jotting them down and storing them for future pieces of work. But when having to think of something for a specific subject, the mind can often go blank.

When faced with an empty page, I like to mind map with a spider diagram. I’m sure some of you will already do this. For other, newer writers, hopefully this will help the creative juices flow. The first ideas I have will be obvious, but as the tendrils of the diagram get longer, more obscure thoughts come to the surface, ones that may seem outside the box, but have a better chance of grabbing the judge’s attention. Even if the idea seems ridiculous, don’t dismiss it out of hand. I find the more connections I make, the more an idea starts to materialise and grow. Sometimes several of the ideas can be used together.

It’s too late for Christmas stories now, but it’s a good theme to use as an example:

These are just off the top of my head and would normally be more extensive. Coloured pens are optional! Different things work for different people, but it might be worth giving it a go if you’re stuck.

Hope you’re all inspired by the festive season. Best of luck with the competitions you enter now and in the new year.

Buon Natale / Nadolig Llawen / Happy Christmas!

Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize
Theme: Open, including children’s and YA, by women over 21. First 40-50 pages and synopsis 5-10 pages long.
Prize: All shortlisted receive one to one consultations with a literary agent and opportunity to meet other agents.
Closing date: 12 noon, 9 February 2018
Entry: £12

Writing Magazine Dialogue Only Short Story
Theme: No description, only dialogue. 1,500 – 1,700 words
Prize: £200 and publication in magazine / £50 and publication online
Closing date: 15 February 2018
Entry: £5 / £3 subscriber

Flash 500 Short Story Competition
Theme: Open. 1,000 to 3,000 words
Prize: £500 / £200 / £100
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: £7

The Hate and Coat Award
Theme: Darker side of human nature. Three items mentioned must be included. 999 words max
Prize: Winner 50% of entry fees. Shortlisted remaining 50% shared.
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: $15AUS

Dream Quest One Writing Contest (also poetry)
Theme: Open, five pages max
Prize: $250US / $125 / $50
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: $10US

The SciFan Fire and Ice Competition
Theme: Fire and Ice – dystopian / dark. 2,000 words max
Prize: £100 / £50 / £25. Shortlist offered opportunity to be in anthology.
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: £5

The Debut Dagger Award
Theme: Crime. For unpublished writers. First 3,000 words, 500 – 1,000 word synopsis
Prize: £500 / shortlisted get brief professional assessment and are submitted to agents
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: £36

Crime Writers’ Association Margery Allingham Short Story Award
Theme: Must satisfy Margaret’s definition of a mystery (see site). Up to 3,500 words.
Prize: £500
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: £12

Exeter Writers’ Short Story Competition
Theme: Open (excluding children’s). 3,000 words max
Prize: £500 / £250 / £100 / Devon prize £100
Closing date: 28 February 2018
Entry: £6

Nottingham Writers’ Club Short Story Competition
Theme: Any genre in a chosen season. 2,000 words max
Prize: £200 / £150 / £50
Closing date: After February 1st (see page for details)
Entry: Possibly £5 – To be confirmed

Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Retreat West, Meridian Writing, Wells Festival and Writing Magazine. She’s had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide and in three anthologies, including Diamonds and Pearls and 100 Stories for Haiti. She is a member of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme and the Society for Women Writers and Journalists.
Write Minds Blog

Many thank, Francesca!

This blog was prepared by blog team member, Louisa Heaton.


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