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Writing in a competition - thoughts, tips, lessons learned Options · View
Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2020 12:10:12 PM
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Joined: 4/23/2014
Posts: 1,057
Location: Somewhere amongst the trees
We just finished a competition not long ago and are now in the throes of one of the most complex competitions I have ever been involved in. It is all great fun here, but can be a serious way to get the creative juices flowing and maybe get some notice for your stories (not to mention some prizes).

Some of us have experience in competitions from here or other sites; Some of us are new to writing for a competition.

What tips do you have for writing in a comp?

What do you want to know about writing for a comp?

What lessons have you learned from writing for comps?

Do you approach a competition entry differently from a regular story?

Let's talk competitions, folks.

My first "Cheers to 10 Years" entry,

Posted: Friday, October 16, 2020 11:36:06 PM
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Joined: 10/12/2010
Posts: 2,424
Location: On the ragged edge of disaster
I’ve been giving this topic a good deal of consideration and will reply as soon as I have a chance to organize my thoughts. Thanks for posing some great questions!

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Posted: Monday, October 19, 2020 11:28:27 AM
Rank: Forum Facilitator

Joined: 4/23/2014
Posts: 1,057
Location: Somewhere amongst the trees
Some of my thoughts as I work through entries for "Cheers for 10 Years."

The biggest challenge I find is word limits, especially in this one where there is a built-in incentive to hit the limit dead on. I edit my stories to death as it is, but now every change I make often requires another change to keep the word count right. Break up a contraction and you gain a word that you have to lose somewhere else and that sort of thing. In more normal comps, the challenge is to rein in my tendency to verbosity. Long sentences and lengthy descriptive or expository passages are a problem when you can only have 500 or 1000 words. Comps have definitely taught me the value of editing and keeping my verbal diarrhea in check.

What I like about comps is that they often inspire writing that I might not otherwise do. I have written for stories for comps elsewhere that I would not have written absent the comp. Sometimes it is because of the theme catching my interest, sometimes it is just the challenge of doing something different.

I do probably edit more carefully on a comp entry, but the deadline forces me to balance that with making sure I finish it in time.


Read the comp description carefully. If there are required words, make sure you use them and maybe CTRL-F (Find in MS Word) for them to make sure they are there.

If it is on a specific theme (the current one is not), look at how you can apply that creatively. I have done a couple for other sites' comps that stretched the theme a bit, hopefully without breaking it (they accept them, so I assume I did not). Obviously, a story about snow and skiing won't work in a summer-themed comp, but maybe a story about someone remembering summer as they are out in the cold will.

My first "Cheers to 10 Years" entry,

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