Writing Competitions

This week sees the launch of the 2014 Festival Competitions on the Competitions page. The competitions are a vital part of the Festival; they open doors for emerging writers and enable us to celebrate entrants’ creativity.

The competitions have some valuable prizes attached, including publication in The Best of 2014 and elsewhere, consultations with literary agents, short writing courses and, naturally, books – all designed to support and encourage excellence.

Indeed, winning a writing competition is a significant endorsement for any writer and agents and publishers take note.  The winner of last year’s Children’s Funny Fiction prize, Jane Howard, is now represented by Polly Nolan of the Greenhouse Literary Agency. Many other winners have reported publishing successes over the years.

As for what to submit, some writers may already have the ‘perfect’ short story or poem tucked away in their desk drawer or on their laptop.  If this is the case for you then take it out, dust it off, brush it up and send it in.

On the other hand, one of the most important objectives of any writing competition is to inspire writers to develop new work. Do consider writing something fresh, something that feels just right for the theme suggested, or simply because this is 2014 and you’ve developed as a writer since you wrote that previous piece.

Our new Flash Fiction competition is perfect for this.  All you need is single moment, briefly realised; a snippet of dialogue, overheard and re-imagined; a feeling – transient, mercurial.  With flash fiction, every word counts; there’s no room for padding. Offer a glimpse of the situation, a sly insight. Aim to leave the reader wondering, changed in some small way by what has occurred on the page.

Or perhaps the Memoir competition interests you?  Memoir is a much more fluid, creative form than purely fact-based autobiography. It pursues the writer’s truth through story-telling techniques and presents an unashamedly subjective viewpoint.

At the wise suggestion of our sponsors at Age Concern, the Retirement Competition has also been reconfigured to welcome stories from younger people as well as more mature writers.  After all, ageing is something that affects us all.

So, a few points to bear in mind as you prepare your submission:

  • Read the competition description carefully to make sure your entry matches the brief.
  • Sometimes new work is better than ‘old’ writing re-worked to fit.
  • Try reading your work out loud before submitting, to catch any repetitions or dissonances that have slipped through at the proof-reading stage.
  • Ensure work is presented to a professional standard.
  • Give your work an interesting title.

Good luck!