Lately I've been hearing a lot about writing contests. They're everywhere. And while some of them are hidden, sneakily deemed some other name, ultimately it's about making your work stand out over someone else's. I hate to say it, but I was never one to throw myself into a million little contests with the hope of coming out on top in at least one. My theory is, if you want to write something worthwhile, something that will intrigue the reader, you've got to put your whole heart into it. That said, you're free to enter every contest known to man. And sure, people who do probably have a leg up on the publishing front because they have some accreditation. I know when an agent gets back to me on a novel saying he/she's interested, one of the first questions I get asked is, "So what's your online platform and credentials?" As you can see, I'm working my butt off on this online platform. (And I'm actually in the process of making myself a portfolio website on Adobe Dreamweaver, but I'm a bit rusty, so it's slow-going). The credentials, though? Not much outside of my experience as a staff writer on JMU's student newspaper and (starting this fall) the yearbook. Our yearbook is a pretty big accomplishment though. At nearly 400 pages, hardcover, it could do serious damage if you dropped it out a window. Not that I'm planing on doing that.
Anyway, back to the contests. If you have interest, I've got several for you. My goal is to enter the first one, as soon as I choose a novel worth entering. Here they are:
1. The Next Big Writer's The Strongest Start Novel Competition 2010 - With a main category and three sub-genres, you're sure to find a place for your work. And it's forum-style, so while you wait eagerly for a response from the contest's host, you'll get feedback from others in the competition. And, here's the kicker: you don't have to have the manuscript completed. Which for me, is like saying, "Yeah, Kaleigh, pull one of those awesome 25-pagers out of the trash and give me a little more work, a little more dedication, and you're golden." Golden. What's not to love?
2. Writer's Digest always has a Your Story prompt, calling for up to a 750-word submission. It's annual. But this spin-off competition caught my eye. For all your photographers out there, this visual prompt calls for an opening sentence based on the image, using "ten" (10?) in the sentence somewhere. Have at it, kids.
Oh, and another reason I'm a fan of that one? You need one great sentence. First sentences are hit or miss with me. I flip through a book, look at the first sentence, and make a decision to buy/rent/borrow it based on that most of the time.