Ever entered a writing contest?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by GGardner, Nov 8, 2019 at 11:42 AM.

  1. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    Years ago, I woke up and knocked out my first and only short story. 14,880 words. I just re-read it and don't hate it.

    It's all plot. No meaningful character development to speak of. In other words, it has the makings of a completely forgettable movie. I'd love to sell it and buy some gear.

    But how to get there? Someone suggested entering it in a writing contest and seeing where it goes. But there's so many and who knows what's valid and what's a scam.

    Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing? Thanks.
     
  2. FMA

    FMA Poster Extraordinaire

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    I can't offer any advice on contests. But as a person who makes a living stringing words together, I can tell you that the market for short fiction is beyond tough. Many of the outlets for short fiction have disappeared. Others may not pay much of anything so you may have to lower your expectation of buying some gear to buying some strings. I write mostly non-fiction/journalism, but a few years back, I had a novel published, a comic crime caper. It took a long time to sell it and when I did, the return wasn't all that great. But hey, it was on Amazon and in book stores and libraries, which was nice.

    I would start by checking out Writer's Digest's Writer's Markets and other similar publications. Look for magazines that have published stories of a similar genre.

    That said, first step would be to get some editing. It doesn't have to be professional editing. Ask someone you know, someone who's a reader and who will be honest with you, to read it and tell you what's wrong with it. Do not fear editing or criticism; it's how you grow as a writer.

    So, now that I've been as discouraging as possible, what's the story about?
     
  3. esseff

    esseff Tele-Holic

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    I've had some experience and the first thing I'd say is that there's very little - if any - money to be made. Secondly, there's virtually no chance of a 15000-word story being read. For example, the magazine competitions I've entered have a strict 1500 - 1700 word limit. The judges don't have time to read anything higher than that. Also, if the opening paragraphs don't grab their attention, the manuscript will be discarded. Some magazines have formatting rules that submissions must comply with. Ignore them at your peril. Lastly, a good story should be a balance of exposition and narrative coupled with strong characters and the grammar/spelling needs careful attention.
    Other than that, it's easy!
    There's often an entry fee, which is normal, but some competitions are a scam. It's generally best to stick with recognised publications or organisations.
    Other opinions may differ.
     
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  4. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for the advice. Congrats on selling your story! As far as editing/criticism go, I have absolutely no pride of authorship. It's completely a mercenary exercise. And I'd use a pseudonym. I just want to buy a Martin 000-18. Let me know if you want to see any of it and you can give me your candid feedback.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 5:00 PM
  5. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    1500 - 1700 word limit?! I can't even order a donut w/ under 600 words. I appreciate the need to stick to recognized publications or organizations. But I don't know how to identify them. Any names you could provide would be great. I'd be happy to send you the opening paragraph for your brutally honest feedback.
     
  6. 440mhz

    440mhz TDPRI Member

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    eversinceitooktheeveylynnecourseofspeedreadingitalkinonesentnce
     
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  7. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    I like it.
     
  8. esseff

    esseff Tele-Holic

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    The word limit for competitions is a good exercise in self-editing. I've cut around a thousand words to conform to a certain 1700-word requirement and the story still turned out OK. FMA's advice is spot-on.
    Check this page for some writing links

    https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&r...-for-writers&usg=AOvVaw2pHL5QNIZDT-p3QGiZ4Cbt

    or maybe Google for American writing sites to get a feel for the art.
    Sure, PM me the opening paragraph and I'll get back to you. :cool:
     
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  9. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    14,880 word? My eyes, like my doughnut ... glazed.
     
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  10. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    :lol:

    I regard TDPRI as sort of a writing contest.

    But if you want to enter a writing contest, I'd suggest that you pick one of the established magazines for writers, and watch them for contests they sponsor or endorse. I'd avoid any contest that requires an entry fee.

    I studied writing in college, I've written a few short things over the years, I've done a long stint teaching English (reading, writing, and speaking) in high school, and I've thought all my life I might want to "be a writer" someday. I actually have a book-length project underway now that I'm retired; it remains to be seen whether I'll ever finish it. If Dr. Phil is right, that future performance is best predicted by past performance. . . .

    Anyway, rather than entering contests, I'd recommend using a current copy of Writer's Market (buy it or find it in any library) to learn submission guidelines, then I'd shop my writing around to whichever publishers are most likely to like it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2019 at 5:03 PM
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  11. GGardner

    GGardner Tele-Afflicted

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    Here's the beginning.

    "The Not So Glorious Kona Warrior"

    The Kona Warrior used to scare the crap out of the audience. He wore a white skeleton mask. Ferocious tattoos covered his arms and legs. He was one of the first to wear a cape. He was one of the first to ask the venue to lower its lights for his entrance. He would carefully—ceremoniously—prepare for each bout. It was always frightening. He would slowly remove his red and white orchard lei. Then the black lei. Then the fearsome skull and crossbones necklace. Then the snake, which he would hold over his head (careful not to wake it from its voodoo-induced trance) while pointing menacingly at his opponent. It was clear that he was drawing from some demonic source. In some matches, he would throw voodoo dust on his opponents. It would temporarily disorient them while the crowd lustfully booed. His reliance on the dark arts was unfair.

    There were wrestling heroes like Henry “Jet” Mason, George “Doc” Travis, Blonde Billy Marks, Sgt. Walter Trueblood and, of course, the earnest young buck known simply as the Bridgewater Kid. There were others who were technically bad guys, but usually exhibited some redeeming quality—sportsmanship for instance—when their opponents were the most vulnerable (known in our house as “good baddies”). There was the usual cast of villains like Peter “Woz” Wozniak, Tommy “Killer” Cavanaugh, and Mad Monty LeDux. But the Kona Warrior was pure evil. And his farewell was something.

    October 20, 1958. The night that the Kona Warrior battled the Bridgewater Kid. It was the biggest wrestling event of the season with lots of undercards. It drew thousands of TV viewers. People paid as much as $11 a seat to be there in person at the Hollywood Regional Ring. It was the ultimate showdown between good and evil. Christianity v. Paganism. American Virtue v. Jungle Cannibalism.

    The Kona Warrior placed a smoking casket next to the ring. Drawing from his prior profession as a witch doctor, he rigged the casket with poison and other dark magic. Throughout the match, the Kona Warrior attempted to push the Bridgewater Kid into the casket. Many times, it looked as if he would succeed.

    At one point, the Kid punched the Kona Warrior clear out of the ring. The crowd roared. The gallant Kid extended his hand to help the Kona Warrior back into the ring. But the Kona Warrior used the opportunity to pull out some voodoo dust from his back pocket. He tried to throw it on the Kid. But the Kid unexpectedly sneezed, causing the voodoo dust to hit the Kona Warrior squarely in the face. The Kona Warrior, temporarily stunned, lost his balance and fell into the casket. The coffin door closed by itself and smoke emanated around it. Everyone was confused. No one dared touch the casket. The arena lights suddenly went out. When they turned the lights back on and lifted the lid, they discovered that it was empty. The Kona Warrior had been devoured by his own black magic. Good had triumphed over evil.

    That was the last anyone saw of the Kona Warrior. Until June 12, 1977, when he showed up outside Carmella’s Pastries & Italian Water Ice in Warren, New Jersey, to sign some memorabilia. Now well into his 50's, balding and with a pronounced beer gut, he nonetheless drew a somewhat respectable crowd. Some people remembered. He was even featured on a local newscast.

    “So why did you disappear?” asks the smiling television reporter in the screaming plaid sport coat. Simple, he replies. It was the height of the cold war and we as a country had lost our way. I had fought in Korea. I lost brothers in Korea. I remember thinking that I needed to do something to remind the country that good always beats evil. I wanted to wake up America. If it meant giving up my silly career, well, let’s just say it was a fair trade-off. The response catches the usually-glib reporter off guard. He fumbles slightly. Then it happens. The reporter appears to be overcome by emotion and says something barely audible about his older brother and Vietnam, and asks his subject, on-air, if they can shake hands. A genuine moment captured on camera. The story is rebroadcast across the country. The Kona Warrior was back.

    Franz Heidelman was still a lifetime away from retirement after spending eighteen years at the Chrysler Newark Assembly Plant in Newark, Delaware, making Dodge Spirits, Chrysler LeBarons, and Reliants. He was sitting in his armchair when he saw the story on TV. What was happening? It took him a split second to process. Some idiot was claiming to be him?
     
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  12. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Well, I want to read more!
     
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  13. esseff

    esseff Tele-Holic

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    I'll get back to you tomorrow on this one, GG. There's a spark of something there. :cool:
     
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  14. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    To continue ... it reads like something from another era, in a good way. You have nothing but manly tropes: wraslin', wars, patriotism, autoworker... Are you setting us up to pull the rug? Is Franz trans?
     
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  15. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Nicely done.
     
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  16. tintag27

    tintag27 Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, I did enter a writing contest... it was a very long time ago, when I was in primary school, but I won!
    It was sponsored by Cadbury's, the UK's favourite chocolate maker, and they wanted stories about, er - chocolate...! I just ignored all the background material on chocolate manufacture they supplied, and made up a story about a little boy in a family of cocoa farmers. After a few weeks the teacher announced to the class that I had a won first prize and was presented with a box containing 144 Cadbury's Creme Eggs (a 'gross' it was called in those long ago pre-decimal days)...
    the teacher also insisted that I had to share my winnings among the rest of the class, so I was pretty popular for a week or so...
     
  17. esseff

    esseff Tele-Holic

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    I think I'd open up with something like this, GG:

    Lemme tell you about wrestling, if you don't know anything about it, that is. There were the true heroes like Jet Mason, Doc Travis, Blonde Billy Marks, Sgt. Walter Trueblood and The Bridgewater Kid of course. There were others who were – on the face of it – bad guys, but always showed sportsmanship when their opponents were down but not quite out. Then there was a cast of villains like Woz Wozniak, Killer Cavanaugh and Mad Monty LeDux. But the Kona Warrior… well, he was as evil as they make them. And his farewell was something to see.

    October 20, 1958. The night that the Kona Warrior battled the Bridgewater Kid. It was advertised as the biggest wrestling event of the season. It drew millions of TV viewers. People paid eleven bucks a seat to be there at the Hollywood Regional Ring. The ultimate showdown between good and evil. Christianity v. Paganism. American Virtue v. Jungle Cannibalism you might say. And this is the way it went…


    Something punchy to begin with, something that will draw the reader in and make them want to read more. You might be surprised at the amount of word redundancy you can make without detracting from the story. It will often improve it. Decide from which viewpoint you want the story to be. Read up on viewpoints by the way, they can affect the whole colour of the story. Avoid the passive voice (which you pretty much have, so far :)) and steer clear of cliches. You've got an original style from what I've seen. If I were you, I'd join a writers' site and put your story up for peer critique. Comment on their work too and you'll get a lot more feedback.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2019 at 11:59 AM
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  18. Dreadnut

    Dreadnut TDPRI Member

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    I've had articles published in several magazines and technical journals, but not fiction.

    This year I entered the Saturday Evening Post Fiction Writer's Contest - my story is 1485 words. It's a good story but I don't have my hopes too high as I'm sure the competition is brutal. Still waiting...
     
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  19. Pixie-Bob

    Pixie-Bob Tele-Meister

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    I won a national (Ireland) essay competition sponsored by the Milk Board in 1974 and then again in 1975. My prizes were: a camera (1974) and a fishing rod (1975).
     
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  20. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I had a short story published in a local press in 1992. A whole lot later, I spent about two and a half years after I retired researching and writing a book about a famous serial killer. I will tell you that there are lots of traps set out there for amateur writers. one I came close to falling into involved hiring a "professional" editor. she tried hard to get me to sign a contract that would have cost me several thousand bucks - this was without seeing any examples of her work at all. I offered to pay her to edit one chapter just so I could see how she could help me, but she pretended she couldn't understand what I was saying - it was all about the contract.

    another rip off that's out there involves a "poetry anthology". you send them some poems, then once a year or so, they publish an anthology of poetry with your poems. and you send them 40-50 bucks and they will send you a copy. they publish anything anybody sends them as long as the "poet" pays for a copy of the book.

    i'll go so far as to say that anybody who wants money from you is ripping you off, one way or another.

    on the other hand, you can put your short story up for sale on amazon kindle for 2-3 bucks a pop.
     
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