Thursday, June 6, 2013

Writing Contests: Helpful or Harmful

   As a new writer, the first thing I thought of was to enter a number of writing contests to get some feedback. Friends and family are usually a little biased. I took several of the short stories I had written, picked out a number of contests from the back of a writer's magazine, sent them off with my money and waited. Every contest entry included a subscription to that particular organization's quarterly or bi-annual publication containing entries from the previous contest winners. After several months went by with no word, I received my first issue of one of the publications, and realized the mistake I had made. None of those contests were genre specific. The publication was filled with grammatically perfect literary fiction. My fantasy stories didn't stand a chance so the next group of contests I choose were genre specific; i.e. fantasy & science fiction. The results were gratifying. I received a top twenty notice from one contest and a Certificate of Honorable Mention from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Also if the contest offers an independent critique for an extra fee, it is a small price to pay for a totally un-biased opinion of your writing.
   If you want to try the contest route, make sure you enter contests that are specific to your genre. The magazine racks are full of fantasy, horror, mystery and detective publications, and they all hold contests. Send them your best work, and you may be pleasantly surprised. Happy writing and good luck.

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