Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor


How To Win Writing Contests

By Suzan L. Wiener
Suzan L. Wiener

Are you tired of not winning writing contests and thinking your writing is better than the winner's? Here's how to make the judges see that too. It will take some time and practice, but you will see that it is doable by the increase in wins you receive.

If you're entering a poetry contest, don't use trite rhymes, such as moon/June or you/too. Remember to use your imagination and let your poem shine. It has to be different enough for that "Wow" factor. Then the judges will sit up and take notice, and yours will be number one. If your poem is merely good, it won't win any awards. It has to be better than all of the other entries.

After you have written your poem, let it sit for a few days and then re-read it out loud. See what changes you can make to improve it. Have it critiqued by others who will give you their honest opinion. Don't only want the person to say, "Wonderful." That won't help you win the contest. If you let someone else critique your work, try to accept what they write to you gracefully. Say thank you even if you don't agree with what they tell you. If you should be impolite, word will get around and no one will want to help you.

Often free verse (non-rhyming poetry) will stand out more than the usual rhyming pattern. It seems to be more popular today. It allows the poet not to be constricted in what they can write and makes for a wider readership, which judges want.

If you are writing a story, make sure to have a beginning, middle and ending. This of course, applies to a poem as well. Make the beginning grab the judge's attention immediately so she will want to continue reading. There must be a problem involved, and the protagonist must solve it without help from someone else.

As basic as this may sound, make sure to follow the contest's guidelines. So many great poems are disqualified because the writer misses the deadline, or doesn't adhere to the rules.

Make sure to proofread your story or poem several times for any obvious grammatical errors or spelling errors, and to make sure it makes sense. That's an important thing to do as it will get the judges to see your entry in a more favorable light.

It's important that your story or poem be about the contest theme. If it is not, it will be disqualified, which would be a shame. Too many could-have-been winning entries are adversely affected this way. Also, if there is more than one theme in the contest, pick the one that is least likely to be picked by the other entrants. It is also a good idea to enter contests that are run within your state. Judges tend to look on local entries more favorably.

Don't forget to mail in the payment with your entry, if there is a fee. If you don't, it won't be counted. If you mail it too late, it will be disqualified. Many entries are disqualified because of these forgotten things, so being careful can give you an edge.

Follow the above points and your chances of winning writing contests should be greatly improved. I know it helped me quite a lot.