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Gold Medals and Oscars? Audrey MacCready

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Audrey MacCready

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It seems to be competition season, as several options are on the horizon.

I’ve submitted opening chapters of my novel, ‘37°N 22°E – Unfinished Business,’ to the Lucy Cavendish Award and the Page Turner Award.

Two more competitions to which I will submit are the Debut Dagger Award and the Fiction Factory ‘First Chapter + Synopsis’ Competition. It’s thanks to writing.ie’s competitions page that I know about the latter and about Lucy Cavendish – thank you, Vanessa!

Entering competitions is great for giving us writers a push to perfect and / or finish our books, quite apart from the tantalising prospect of winning something. The entrance fees for my efforts varied from twelve euro to thirty-six euro, with Early Bird offers to entice me in. A reasonable investment, I think. The prizes range from five hundred to one thousand five hundred pounds sterling. In addition, and at least as valuable as cash, are the prizes of mentorships, professional evaluations or editing. And that most sought-after prize – contact with an agent.

Each competition has its own rules. The Fiction Factory requires only the first chapter with a five thousand word limit, Page Turner allows ten pages with a three thousand word limit. For Lucy Cavendish, it was forty to fifty pages, whereas Debut Dagger seeks three thousand words plus a synopsis.

Ah yes, the dreaded synopsis, purportedly nearly as difficult to write as the novel itself. Such a useful exercise, though. There’s nothing like describing your story in one page – or even one thousand words – for revealing the flaws in its structure, story arc or even character arc. Another very useful exercise I discovered in recent times is the film treatment. Again, this template obliges a writer to closely examine the content and structure of their story. Focuses the mind! There are several film treatment models available on the Web.

So, this month I have been working on my book, just not necessarily increasing its word count. I’ve been dusting off that crucial first chapter, writing one short and one longer synopsis, double-checking the rules for four competitions and watching the calendar for those deadlines.

To my fellow scribes who are launching their precious manuscripts into competition world, I wish you the best of luck. Don’t be shy!

(c) Audrey MacCready

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