Fiction writing contests are a great way for me to work under pressure of a deadline and to learn about new fiction publications. While many literary journals and publications will pay writers when their work is accepted, fiction writing contests come with a fee. This fee goes toward the prize money for the winners and frequently to produce a special publication of winning entries.
Some fiction writing contests also offer the opportunity to receive feedback from the judges in the form of a detailed critique. These critiques can require an extra fee but it’s usually not exorbitant. I try to enter a contest each month. I’ve never had any wins, until this year!
Recently, I learned I was a finalist in a contest from Writer Advice for my short fiction story “After Cake.” While I didn’t win an award, it was great to hear from the contest host that my story “stayed with her.”
I’m also pleased to announce that I was awarded an Honorable Mention in poetry from Spark! A Creative Anthology in their second contest. I typically do not write poetry. But my entry, “Protagonist,” was a story that had a very poetic soul. It just would not be forced into a traditional prose format. So I took a risk and told the story in the form of a poem. The gamble paid off and I garnered my first award recognition for fiction writing!
Online Critique Groups
Spark has strong ties to an excellent writing and critique website called Scribophile. I love Scribophile. I have received incredible feedback on work I’ve posted and read some incredible things posted by other writers. If you have stories you want to tell – fiction or not – I highly suggest joining the site. Post something that you might want to enter in a contest and get it proofread and polished.
Even if you only consider yourself a fiction writer as a hobby, take a risk this year and enter a fiction writing contest. But don’t get discouraged if you get tough feedback or no awards. I’ve been entering contests for a long time, several years in fact. And this year I feel I have finally developed the skills to draft, revise, seek feedback, revise again and finally find the right contest for the story I’ve nurtured.
So put your work out there. And don’t forget to come back and tell me if you win!