Be careful of trying to wedge a theme into, or a word count onto, an already completed story… and some good news!

Many of the short story competitions I come across have an open brief, but this month four of them have themes. These are, ‘Hope’, ‘Neighbours’, ‘Here we go again’ and an adult fairy story.

I’ve been guilty in my competition life of occasionally doing something you should avoid with themed competitions: shoehorning the topic into a story you’ve already written. Unless the story was written with this theme in mind, or you’ve had sufficient time to change the structure of the story, you’re in danger of your action sticking out like a sore thumb.

Similarly, it’s often tempting to drastically shorten a story just to fit a lesser word count. Again, this will often show, and it’s not worth wasting the entry fee. If you like the idea behind your story, it might be a better idea to rewrite the whole thing with the word count in mind.

Another mistake it’s easy to make is to rush to finish a story before the deadline. One of the pieces of advice that is often given by writers with many years of experience is to leave your work for several days, if not longer, before you edit it, in order to look at it with fresh eyes. This is no less true of competition entries.

My own good competition-related news is that I was shortlisted in the Words with JAM First Page Competition. I didn’t even realise until somebody pointed it out to me. So, another piece of advice is to keep an eye on the web sites of the competitions you’ve entered, as they don’t always let you know if you’re only shortlisted.

Good luck with your own submissions, whatever competitions you choose to enter.

 

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Closing Soon:

 

Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition

Theme: Open. 500 words max

Prize: £300 / £200 / £100

Closing date:  Next deadline 30 September 2018

Entry: £5

Details

 

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October competitions:

 

Writing Magazine Adult Fairy Tale Competition

Theme: Bring classic fairytale up to date or create own. 1,500 – 1,700 words

Prize: £200 plus publication in magazine / £50 plus publication online

Closing date: 15 October 2018

Entry: £6

Details

 

Flash 500 Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competition

Theme: Open. 3,000 opening words plus one page synopsis

Prize: £500 / £200

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: £10

Details

 

The McKitterick Prize 2019

Theme: First novel by an author over 40, published or unpublished

Prize: £4,000 / £1,000

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: Free

Details

 

NAWG 2018 Open Writing Competitions

Theme: Short story – open, 500 – 2,000 words. (Also poetry)

Prize: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: £5

Details

 

Writing Magazine Picture Book Prize 2018

Theme: Text only required. 800 words max

Prize: £200 plus consultation with top children’s fiction agent, Julia Churchill / £50 plus picture book critique through a Writing Magazine course. Year’s WM subscription for both

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: £5

Details

 

NAWG 2018 Novella Competition

Theme: First 5,000 words of novella (17,500 – 40,000 long)

Prize: £300 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: £10

Details

 

SWC Annual Short Story Competition

Theme: Open. 2,000 words max

Prize: £150 / £80 / £30

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: £3

Details

 

The Tom-Gallon Trust Award

Theme: Short story, published or unpublished. 5,000 words max. Entrants must had had at least one short story published.

Prize: £1,000 / £500

Closing date: 31 October 2018

Entry: Free

Details

 

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November competitions:

 

Annual Arkbound Competition

Theme:  ‘Hope’. 1,000 words max

Prize: £100 / £50 / £25 / 3 x £10

Closing date: 1 November 2018

Entry: £3

Details

 

The Caledonia Novel Award

Theme: Adult or YA novels at least 50,000 words long by unpublished or self published authors and also unagented.

Prize: £1,000

Closing date: 1 November 2018

Entry: £25

Details

 

Commonwealth Short Story Prize

Theme: Open. 2,000 – 5,000 words. Entrants must be citizens of a Commonwealth country.

Prize: £2,500 for each regional winner. £5,000 for the overall winner.

Closing date: 1 November 2018

Entry: Free

Details

 

The Scribble Annual Short Story Competition

Theme: ‘Neighbours’. 3,000 words max

Prize: £100 / £50 / £25

Closing date: 1 November 2018

Entry: £4

Details

 

The Paul Torday Memorial Prize (for debut authors over 60)

Theme: A novel first published in the UK or Republic of Ireland between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2018.

Prize: £1,000

Closing date: 15 November 2018

Entry: Free

Details

 

1,000 Word Challenge

Theme: ‘Here we go again’. 750 – 1,000 words

Prize: £150 / £75 / £50

Closing date: 30 November 2018

Entry: £5

Details

 

Ink Tears Short Story Contest

Theme: Open. 1,000 – 3,500 words

Prize: £1,000 / £100 / 6 x £25

Closing date: 30 November 2018

Entry: £7.50

Details

 

Everything With Words Urban YA Competition

Theme: Urban YA set in a real city. 40,000 – 70,000 words

Prize: £1,000 plus publication

Closing date: 30 November 2018

Entry: Free

Details

 

Fish Short Story Prize

Theme: Open. 5,000 words max

Prize: €3,000 / Retreat plus €300 expenses / €300 / 7 x €200. All ten published in anthology.

Closing date: 30 November 2018

Entry: €20

Details

 

Betty Trask Prize for Under 35s

Theme: Novel, traditional or romantic, either published in 2018 or unpublished.

Prize: Total prize money £20,000, to be used for travel.

Closing date: 30 November 2018

Entry: Free

Details

 

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Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Twyford Writers, Chorley & District Writer’s Circle, Retreat West, Cordelia.net, Meridian Writing, Flash a Famous Phrase, Wells Festival, and Writing Magazine. She’s had stories and a serial published in magazines worldwide. Her first book, Christmas Mystery at Sealfarne Island, is due to be published by My Weekly Pocket Novels in December. Apart from the RNA, she’s also a member of the Society for Women Writers and Journalists. Francesca runs a writing blog along with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.

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