Writing Competitions: Not for the faint of heart

Boxer  Most of you are probably thinking I’m referring to entering a writing competition. But no, this post is about coordinating a writing competition.

I belong to a writing group, Malice in Memphis, a local mystery writers group, whose number one mission is to foster an environment where writers develop their craft.

My naïve self suggested hosting a writing competition. Not only would we challenge seasoned and aspiring writers to produce their best stuff, but our members would also benefit through judge’s training; we’d give current members a leg up on improving their own individual work.

. . . a little extra cash for the organization would be pretty good too.

Well, the prez thought it was a grand idea and instantly assigned me as coordinator.

Dang! It was just an idea. I didn’t actually mean to take on MORE work.

But hey, I’m a trooper and I agreed. Besides how much extra work could it actually be? I’m not the one submitting.

Oh, famous last words.

Not to discourage anyone from taking on this task in the future, but there were a lot of little details I hadn’t considered when I said ‘yes’.

For example, the paperwork.

Our contest, 2018 Hit Me With Your Best Shot, focuses on the opening of a longer work in progress. We want to challenge writers to produce compelling openings that draw readers into the story and keep them turning pages.

This makes our contest unique and means that, if we expect writers to wow us in less than 500 words, we had better have very specific criteria to base that on. One guess on whose shoulders that responsibility fell??

Not to mention, keeping up with submissions and payments, assignments, bugging a group of busy writers to score and return scoresheets (hopefully, without annoying anyone too badly). Marketing, promoting, marketing, promoting . . . should I say that once more?

No? You got it? You sure?


Despite all that, here’s what I learned and probably why I’m likely to volunteer for this task again if asked:

I believe in Malice’s mission. I personally challenge myself to give back whenever the opportunity presents because countless people gave to me at the beginning of my writer’s journey.

Those people I’ve been hounding to return scoresheets? Not one of them hesitated to answer the call to judge and not one of them have cussed me out or quit . . . yet.

. . . they support Malice’s mission too.

Finally, the quality of the submissions.

I have read the openings of some incredible stories and have been seriously tempted to drop certain authors private emails asking for the rest of the story.

They are just that good.

The 2018 Hit Me With Your Best Shot writing competition is accepting submissions through May 1, 2018. That gives you two more weeks to polish and shine. The entry fee is only $10 and you can submit here.

Good luck!




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