Monday 14 September 2015

Competition Entries
This week, I have been working on a few short stories ready to submit to competitions before I leave on my holidays next week. I've re-worked, edited, changed word order, then changed it back again in some cases and generally polished the writing to make it the best I possibly can. I've read the stories out loud and spotted words left out, checked the rules and noted who the judges are. At last came the moment when the stories and cover sheets went into the respective envelopes along with the cheques for the appropriate entry fees and I dropped them into the post box. Others I submitted on-line with fees paid via PayPal. I can now forget about them and wait. 

Here is another reminder that there is still time to enter The Alfie Dog Fiction International Short Story Competition. The closing date is 30th September and there two great prizes: 

1st Prize:

£200 AND Publication of a short story collection of 35,000 – 40,000 words with editorial support for completion

2nd Prize:

full critique of stories to a total maximum word count of 10,000 words

Entry fees are the download of 5 short stories (different authors) so it has the added benefit of generating royalties for other authors. Stories are submitted online. Please click here for full details, Competition rules and entry form.

For those of you who still haven't entered, this is what Editor, Rosemary Kind, said in her review of last year's competition which you may find helpful:

'In the initial stages every story was assessed looking for how well they met key points. These included in no particular order: the title, opening, story arc, ending, the depth of the characters, speech, layout, emotion, originality, grammar etc, readability and reader satisfaction. Each story was scored in all of these areas.
While scoring them makes it sound like an objective process, clearly what constitutes a good opening is a subjective matter. You may also think there are some obvious things missing, such as whether the story was written from the right point of view and whether the writer had handled things such as point of view effectively, but the consideration of these came within the heading of reader satisfaction.
In later rounds stories were reread with more emphasis on originality, reader satisfaction and emotion and less on the basic components, which by this stage had been established. In purely statistical terms, endings were the weakest area and one many writers would benefit from looking at this aspect more closely. This was followed by the depth of characters and perhaps unsurprisingly openings. In contrast the mechanics of layout and grammar, punctuation, spelling etc were handled very well in almost all entries.
What set the better stories apart, more than anything, was the originality of their story ideas and the high level of reader satisfaction. Ideas were not contrived, but enabled the reader to suspend reality for a few minutes and enter a different world. Their characters were convincing and believable with a greater depth of emotion that touched the reader.'

Good luck to everyone!

Have you judged any writing competitions? Perhaps you'd like to tell us what you think makes a winning story.

Thank you for reading my blog. You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and on my Jan Baynham Writer Facebook page.


  1. You highly organised woman you. :-) I could do with you in my subs group. We are just restarting the group after a two month break. In fact I sent out the reminder email earlier.
    I've judged one or two competitions, and for me the story has to have a beginning, middle and end, something has to have changed by the end of the story, and I prefer an upbeat story. Far too many are about death and dying.

    1. I'm not usually organised, Maria, and tend to leave things until the last minute but I'm away over the dead line dates for some of the competitions. The main reason though is to concentrate on finishing the novel once I get back. No short story distractions! Thank you for commenting. I like upbeat, too.

  2. When we get to the point of changing things and changing them back I think it's time to send the thing out!

    Yes, I have judged a few competitions. Sticking to the rules helps - no matter how good a story is, it won't win if the organisers have to disqualify it. In one case half the entries broke at least one rule, which meant those who'd followed them all had doubled their chances.

    1. Good advice, Patsy. I've noticed that the rules vary so as you say, it's so important to read them carefully and stick to them. Thanks for your comments.