Why enter writing competitions? by Ray Stone

The first thing we should ask ourselves is – Why competitions, what is their point, and why are they so important? It was not until serious writing competitions came about at the turn of the nineteenth century in 1901 when the first Nobel Literary prize was awarded. The age of modern fiction was born, and so were writing competitions. Since the 1901 Nobel prize for literature, other important writing competitions have been created. 1954 in Australia – The Miles Franklin award, 1969 The Booker award, the richest of them all, and 1993 The David Cohen Award in the UK. There are many more.

So why are they important, and why should we enter competitions, especially short stories?

Competitiveness helps you to challenge yourself and produce work within a time scale. Important judges, some from the publishing industry, are going to be reading your work. One of our members is a literary agent. You may not win or reach the long list, but you haven’t lost anything, just that one competition. Losing will be all the better for you as the challenge to win gets stronger. The personal challenge also means awareness in learning what the market is looking for when participating in contests. One piece of advice we hear all the time is – write every day, even if it’s one paragraph. Entering competitions, we are doing just that as well as improving all aspects of our writing skills. The more we enter, the more proficient we become. Remember that the majority of well-known authors and literary award winners all started by writing short stories or essays.

Some writers will benefit from competitions where there is no entry fee. Other competitions attract fees between $10 and $25. In defence of fees - Our non-profit organization has to charge a fee for competitions to pay development costs and the building of prize money if we expand our membership and increase prize money incentive. Membership comes first, but that goes hand in hand with incentives to join. There are many writers and many writing organizations, and we need to attract new members. We are offering them services, advice and attractive competitions. It allows them to hone their skills and take a diversion through competition to discover genres other than their first choice – and win a prize.

We all know how wonderful it would be to run an ad in a magazine or a local paper for World Writers Collective. Unfortunately, that costs money. Apart from social media and a variety of ingenious ideas some writers have thought up in the past, there is one way that all organizations go for support when they show signs of good growth – Sponsorship.

We are lucky that Red Bubble, an Australian online store, is supporting us in name only. We would normally find it hard to get sponsorship, but by showing them that we are offering cash prizes, including the Red Bubble product, they agreed to use their name. I am certain that if we can increase prizes by next year, they will be contributing something – or else I will be banging on their door. The company attracts artists and photographers worldwide who have their work imprinted on the products the artists choose. For a start, $1 per item sold to members through the address on the competition page will be paid into the competition fund.

At the moment we have three competitions that I hope all members will find attractive. A Flash competition that I think is unique in as much as the prize is concerned. Fifty per cent of the entry fees will be given to the winner. No second or third places, and everyone, including members, pay $5 entry. Submissions should be in by the end of this month, and the new Flash will start again next month and so on. Details will always be on the appropriate competition page.

The second competition is a Fantasy short story, something I love – 2,500 words and you make up the plot and characters. The great thing about Fantasy is that you are building a new world and letting your imagination run wild. The first prize is a $30 gift card for Red Bubble,

Then the Big One – The Golden Pen Award - this year’s special competition of 5,000 words. The idea for the plot is given, and you produce the story that follows that idea. First prize, and the biggest so far -  $250 plus much more - and second and third – details on the competition pages. If we can increase the membership and competition entrants this coming year, then maybe next year we could see a $500 first prize or more. Imagine it could be you with bragging rights for a year.

This is a remarkable group with a team of experts to guide it, but membership is the key to future success, and competitions are part of that success. I hope that as a group, we can surge forward in the coming year despite lockdown and make sure we are ready now to breakout.