Looking at more competition rules and why it’s important to follow them

To reiterate what I wrote last month, it’s amazing how often competition rules are ignored. Is it because people don’t bother to read them properly or they think it doesn’t matter? Either way, a competition entry will fall at the first hurdle if the rules haven’t been followed. (Last month’s post, the first part on rules, can be found here.)

One rule that’s found on 99% of competitions is the word count. If the competition stipulates a minimum and/or maximum (more often the latter), then make sure your entry complies. A few contests will give a 10% leeway, but if it’s not mentioned, don’t do it. Be careful, particularly with flash fiction, to check whether the word count includes the title. It usually doesn’t, but very occasionally it does (as with the To Hull and Back competition below).

The most common format requested is Word document, either .doc or .docx. Other common ones are Rich Text Format (.rtf) and PDF. This will sometimes depend on whether you send it as an email, or as part of a form. Fonts and sizes aren’t always specified, but nevertheless keep to legible ones, for instance, Ariel or Times New Roman. Using something fancy like Blackadder, or overly bold like Impact, won’t make for easy reading for the poor judge. Although it’s less common, check whether a particular line spacing or margin width is favoured.

For those of us who submit short stories, articles and novels to magazines and publishers, we’re used to putting our details on the document. If a competition asks for the document to be anonymous, and they usually do, make sure you’ve not overlooked the headers and footers. This would incur an instant disqualification. Sometimes separate cover sheets are requested, or your details will go on an online form or on your email.

If a competition has a theme, stick to it. That may sound obvious, but having judged competitions myself, you’d be surprised how often the theme is ignored. Or it’s so subtle the judge doesn’t realise. Like the time I judged a competition with the theme of ‘Ten’. One story I read was about a football team who lost a player because they were subject to a red card. You might already get it – I didn’t until I told my husband and he pointed out they’d only have ten players left! Yes, too subtle for me, I’m afraid.

The best way I’ve found of making sure I follow all the rules of a competition is to print them up. I read them several times then underline them if they’re all in one paragraph. As I’m polishing my entry, I go through and tick each off as I’ve achieved it. That way I can be sure I’ve done all I can to prevent my entry being at a disadvantage.

This is my 64th Competition Monthly, and sadly my last. Happy writing everyone, and I wish all of you entering competitions great success in your comping endeavours.

 

Click April 2021 for posts detailing further competitions closing in June

 

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Rolling Competitions

 

Writers’ Forum

Theme: Open, 1,000 – 3,000 words

Prizes: £300 / £150 / £100

Closing date: Rolling

Entry: £3 subscribers / £6 non

Details

 

 

June Competitions

 

Globe Soup Short Story Competition

Theme: ‘Stories with a sense of place’. 5,000 words max

Prizes: £1,500

Closing date: 15 June 2021

Entry: £12

Details

 

Retreat West Quarterly Themed Flash Competition

Theme: ‘The Uncanny’ for the June comp. 500 words max

Prizes: £200 / 2 x £100, all published online and professional recording made

Closing date: 27 June 2021

Entry: £8

Details

 

Audio Arcadia Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 5,000 max

Prizes: Publication in an anthology (paperback and ebook) plus royalties

Closing date: 30 June 2021

Entry: £6.50

Details

 

Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition

Theme: Open, 500 words max

Prizes: £300 / £200 / £100

Closing date: 30 June 2021

Entry: £5

Details

 

Hastings Writers Room Flash Fiction Competition

Theme: ‘Two halves’: submit two flash fics up to 150 words each relating two sides of a story

Prizes: £75 / £40

Closing date: 30 June 2021

Entry: £5

Details

 

Henshaw Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 2,000 words max

Prizes: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 30 June 2021

Entry: Free

Details

 

 

July Competitions

 

Doris Gooderson Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 1,200 words max

Prizes: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 13 July 2021

Entry: £5

Details

 

Writing Magazine Twist Short Story Competition

Theme: Tale with a twist, 1,500 – 1,700 words

Prizes: £200, publication in magazine / £50 publication online

Closing date: 15 July 2021

Entry: £7.50 / £5 for subscribers

Details

 

Exeter Lit Fest Short Story Competition

Theme: Open, 750 words max

Prizes: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 31 July 2021

Entry: £5

Details

 

To Hull and Back Short Story Competition

Theme: Humorous, 2,500 max, including title

Prizes: £1,200 / £600 / £300 / £150 / 14 x £50 plus publication for all in an anthology

Closing date: 31 July 2021

Entry: £15

Details

 

 

August Competitions

 

The Exeter Story Prize and Trisha Ashley Award

Theme: Open, 5,000 words max. (The judges decide which stories go forward to the Tricia Ashley Award)

Prizes: £500 / £150 / £100 / £200 for the Tricia Ashley Award

Closing date: 31 August 2021

Entry: £12

Details

 

NAWG Open Competitions

Theme: Short story, open theme, 2,000 words max. (Also poetry)

Prizes: £200 / £100 / £50

Closing date: 31 August 2021

Entry: £5

Details

 

 

September Competitions

 

Impress Prize for New Writers

Theme: Entrants must not be traditionally published. Open theme. Book proposal of 1,000 words max, synopsis 1,000 max, sample chapter 6,000 words max

Prizes: £500 and possibility of a publishing contract

Closing date: 13 September 2021

Entry: £25

Details

 

Adventures in Fiction New Voices Competition

Theme: Open. One page synopsis and first page of novel

Prizes: A Start Up mentoring package worth £550.

Closing date: 14 September 2021

Entry: £10

Details

 

Ovacome Writing Competition

Theme: ‘Connected’, 2,000 words max

Prizes: £250 / £50 Waterstones voucher

Closing date: 30 September 2021

Entry: £5

Details

 

 

Open 1st June

A variety of competitions from Mslexia

Details

 

 

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Francesca Capaldi Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a dozen competitions including Winchester Writers’ Conference, Retreat West, Meridian Writing, Wells Festival Book for Children, Writing Magazine and The People’s Friend serial competition. She’s had stories published in magazines worldwide along with several pocket novels. Currently she’s writing the third episode of her World War 1 Valleys series, set in Wales and published by Hera Books. Francesca runs a writing blog with RNA member Elaine Roberts called Write Minds.

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