Get Ready to WOW Judges: Tips for Writing Contest Submissions

How can you ensure your short story is good enough to enter into a writing contest? Here are some tips for crafting a story that stands out among the competition.

Entering a writing contest is an excellent way to challenge oneself and gain recognition for one's work. However, submitting a short story to a contest can be daunting, especially if the writer is unsure whether the story is good enough to stand out among the competition. Here are some tips on how a writer can ensure their short story is ready for a writing contest:

Start with a strong concept

An excellent short story should have a clear and compelling concept that engages the reader from the outset. The writer should spend time brainstorming and developing their concept, ensuring it has enough depth to sustain a complete story.

Pay attention to structure and pacing

Short stories rely on concise storytelling and tight pacing to create a satisfying narrative arc. The writer should pay close attention to their story's structure, ensuring that each scene and element serves a purpose in advancing the plot.

Develop memorable characters

Characters are the heart of any good story, and short stories are no exception. The writer should ensure that their characters are well-developed and memorable, with distinct personalities and motivations.

Use vivid and engaging language

Short stories rely on precise and evocative language to create a sense of atmosphere and mood. The writer should aim to use descriptive and engaging language, avoiding clichés and overused phrases.

Edit and revise

Finally, editing and revising the short story thoroughly before submitting it to a contest is essential. The writer should read their work aloud, seek feedback from other writers or beta readers, and be willing to make changes to improve the story.

By following these tips, writers can ensure that their short story is well-crafted and stands out among the competition.

Once the story is ready to be entered into one or more competitions, first-time contest participants should focus on two types of writing contests:

  1. 1) Those with no fee for entry: If you're unsure about the calibre of your work compared to others, it is best not to begin by spending a great deal of your money until you start seeing some results.

  2. 2) Those that offer critiques on submitted writing: While contests that give feedback on your submissions are almost never free, getting a critique from judges can be well worth your money, as it can lead to improvements in your writing that can bring success in subsequent contests.

With dedication and perseverance, entering a writing contest can be a rewarding experience, whether or not the writer ultimately wins. Find a short fiction writing contest that suits your style at

Wendy Woudstra

Wendy Woudstra is the driving force behind, an ad-supported informational website featuring a comprehensive database of book publishing companies, literary festivals, and literary awards.

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