The ‘Joys’ of Contests

One of the best and also one of the most frustrating parts of being a writer is writing contests. I’m going to speak from both the writer’s standpoint in this entry and from a judge’s standpoint since I’ve participated from both sides.

Writer’s Standpoint
From a writer’s standpoint, I want a contest that clearly lays out the rules. One that gives me a prompt and then either numbers or bullet points the rules so I can follow them.

I am equally willing to enter contests that are short and long term depending on my own schedule and I like clear deadlines, although I am okay with the judge or facilitator changing the deadline due to their own schedule.

I don’t particularly like contests that charge entry fees, but that’s just my personal preference. Depending on the contest, I might still enter it.

I also am really not particular with how long it takes to judge a contest. I understand that real life gets in the way.

Most of the contests I enter are on my writing site so I’m considering the information from there.

Judge’s Standpoint
I am a bit more particular when it comes to contests I am judging. At the moment I am only running on contest, although I have participated in and guest judged others in the past.

I am very careful to empathize and lay out both the rules and the prompt when I am writing up a contest. I also encourage anyone interested in entering to email me or post to the forum. I welcome questions about the contest. I hate to disqualify people because they don’t understand what I wrote.

At the same time, I do my very best not to disqualify people just because they make minor mistakes on the prompt or the rules (giving them chances to re-enter or correct whatever they did wrong. Still I try very hard not to give anyone an unfair advantage over anyone else and I also do get frustrated when someone asks me a question and then seems to still not follow the rules.

My best advice to anyone entering a contest is to read the rules carefully and make sure you follow all of the rules, even if they seem silly. It will save you in the long run and make it more likely that you will place. Also be sure you know what type of contest you are entering before you submit your entry. Finally most contests tend to look for well-written stories (or poems) that rely on good grammar, formatting, and spelling so be sure to read over your entry before submitting it.

What do you look for when entering or judging a contest?

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