One of the biggest challenges for any of us, in today’s highly competitive writing world, is to be recognised. We are encouraged, as emerging writers, to create, and then optimise, an author’s platform. I talked about this before but one approach I was somewhat remissive about, in that I didn’t mention it at all, is one of the more traditional ways of making ourselves known to the writing and publishing world. Writing competitions.
Competitiveness is a fairly deep-rooted instinct in most of us and, as much as we churn out that old adage ‘It’s-not-the-winning -it’s-the-taking-part-that-counts’ to our children, competition is actually a very effective method of making us yearn to do better, to maximise our own potential.
And writing competition is no different – it gives us some external pressure to be the best writer we can be. It’s also a good way to gauge, in realistic terms, the quality of our writing – an alternative to our own self-critical or over-generous standards.
Entering writing competitions is also the most approachable way to show the world that we are a writing force to be reckoned with. ‘But,’ I hear you holler, ‘surely I have to win these damn things to get noticed.’ Not necessarily. Of course being the overall winner does help but, in a lot of cases, just being short-listed will be enough to elevate you over the heads of your kin. This is especially true if the competition is well known and/or revered.
Irrespective of what you write, there is a competition out there for you, but a short story competition might be the one to most effectively put you on the map. The James Plunkett Memorial Short Story Competition sets out to commemorate the infamous 1913 Dublin Lockout, the most severe industrial dispute in Ireland’s history. With the first of three closing dates fast approaching , this is a great opportunity to be part this important tribute.
This is one of many that feature on our very own competitions page here on writing.ie, which also includes The Cornerstone and the Doolin Short Story competitions.
I talked a few weeks back about the BBC being the holy grail of radio drama. But it’s also a go-to place for short stories and, in partnership with Booktrust, the Beeb are currently looking for submissions to their National Short Story Award.
I’ll be talking about poetry-writing in more detail in a few weeks’ time. In the meantime, I can tell you about a few ongoing and upcoming poetry competitions.
Poetry Ireland always have a range of competitions happening at any given time. Most imminent is the Comórtas Filíochta an Choirnéil Eoghain Uí Néill, their annual bilingual award, where poets can submit entries as Gaeilge, in Scottish Gaelic or English. And, in partnership with Trocaire, they’re also inviting entries for their all-Ireland poetry competition, with ‘Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s World’ being this year’s theme. Closing date for both of these contests is pretty close, 1st March 2013, but if you have a look at the Poetry Ireland website, you can see what other competitions, with a bit more time to submit, are coming up.
Poeticrepublic.com is a one-stop-shop for all thing poetry and they’re currently running their annual contest at the moment, with some fantastic prizes on offer (top prize two grand).
Listowel Writers’ Week is happening once again this summer and, as always, there are a number of competitions for poetry, as well as short stories and stageplays. The Writers’ Week website lists all the contests associated with the festival.
For novelists, and as mentioned recently on TV3’s Morning Show, Poolbeg Press are running their second ‘Write A Bestseller’ competition. This is a contest for unpublished novels, of any genre, and is a fantastic way of getting your talent noticed by one of the country’s leading publishers.
Writing competitions aren’t just limited to unpublished writers. The International Rubery Book award is a competition for published novels. This might be of particular interest to self-published writers as the winning book will be read by a top UK literary agent, i’d like to think with a mind to representing the author.
Flash-fiction seems to be growing in popularity and power on a daily basis. The point of flash-fiction is brevity and, although there is no definitive length of a piece of flash fiction, most publications/competitions look for submissions of between 300 and 1000 words. A good example is Flash500.com, where the length is in name – they run four competitions a year for stories no longer than 500 words.
In addition to all of these, there are a number of contests out there that cater to multiple disciplines of writing. One of the most prestigious of these is the Bridport prize, which is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary in 2013 and which prides itself in celebrating emerging writing talent and literary excellence. The Bridport includes contests for short stories, flash fiction and poetry. With it closing date in early May, now would be a good time to get cracking on a new piece or perfecting one of your already-written masterpieces.
I couldn’t, of course, forget about all the budding screenwriters out there, for whom there is no shortage of competitions around the world. The highly acclaimed (both by writers and the industry) PAGE International Screenwriting Awards is enjoying its tenth year and, once again, has $50,000 in the prize-fund, including a twenty-five-grand Grand Prize.
Closer to home, the London Independent Film Festival is now accepting submissions for its 2013 Screenplay Contest. With categories including ‘Best International Screenplay’, ‘Best Short Screenplay’ and ‘Best Screenplay Pitch’, this renowned competition is definitely one to look at.
The best way of finding out about upcoming and ongoing competitions (besides the rudimentary Google search) is writing magazines, such as Writers’ Forum. As well as their own contests, they give a detailed outline of competitions in the UK, Ireland and further afield, for stories and poetry, but also for novels, flash fiction and, on occasion, scripts for film, TV and radio. For example, in this month’s copy, in addition to some of what’s mentioned above, they have a competition for the chocolate-obsessed, a music-themed short-story contest and, my personal favourite, the Wergler Flomp humour Poetry Contest.
So maybe now is the time to dust off what you have in the treasure-chest or get cracking on something new. Who knows, there might be a few quid, an agent or publication on offer…
‘Competition is good, as long as it’s healthy. It’s what makes one strive to be better.’ – Christine Lahti
A Century Later…
In honour of the 1913 Dublin Lock-out, comes the James Plunkett Memorial Short Story Competition.
“A founder member of the Irish Writers’ Union, James Plunkett’s seminal work, Strumpet City, still stands as one of the great Irish works of the 20th century.”
In Book, we Trust.
In partnership with the BBC, Booktrust are running their National Short Story Award.
“After a year spanning the globe for the finest international talent, the BBC National Short Story Award returns for 2013 to celebrate the best in homegrown short fiction.”
Pick A Language – English, Irish…Scottish?
Poetry Ireland’s annual bilingual award, Comórtas Filíochta an Choirnéil Eoghain Uí Néill.
“This is a bilingual competition, where applicants can submit poems written in English, Irish or Scottish Gaelic.”
Poetry in Motion.
PoeticRepublic.com’s lucrative poetry contest.
“The Poetic Republic Poetry Prize is a rigorous process where participants read each other’s work in isolation unaware of other participants’ opinions, comments or identity. It is a neutral space.”
Listowel Writers’ Week
As part of the festival, the Writers’ Week run a series of competitions for short stories, poetry and scripts.
Do You Have A Book In You?
Poolbeg (in association with TV3 ‘The Morning Show’) is currently looking for submissions for their ‘Write a Bestseller’ contest.
“Do you dream of writing a novel? Then now is the time to put down the coffee mug and brave the computer.”
Already Published? You Can Play Too.
The Rubery award is a competition for published novels.
“Rubery Book Award is the longest established book award based in the UK for independent and self published books. The key to our success is having a keen eye for quality from distinguished and reputable judges.”
Who Likes Short Shorts?
Flash500.com runs four competitions a year for 500-word stories.
“When it comes to prizes, it often seems as though flash fiction is the poor relation of writing competitions. We have increased our first prize to £300, making this a flash fiction competition where the prize money truly reflects the skill required.”
Poetry? Short story? Flash-Fiction? How about All-Of-The-Above?
The renowned Bridport Prize is now open for submissions.
“Mention the Bridport Prize and the eyes of writers everywhere light up. It’s not just the money, it’s a prize really worth fighting for in terms of prestige and genuine literary accomplishment.”
It’s All On The PAGE.
Written a screenplay? The prestigious Page Screenwriting Awards might just be looking for you.
“Each year dozens of top producers, agents, and development execs ask to read our winning screenplays. As a result, many of our winning writers land professional writing assignments, secure representation, and sign option agreements on their work.”
The Bright Side of LIFF
The London Independent Film Festival runs a contest for feature and short film screenplays.
“With multiple prizes and screenwriter events at the festival, LIFF is your best chance to get your writing discovered.”
But Don’t Stray Too Far.
There’s no shortage of competitions featured right here on writing.ie.
…And The Rest.
Writing Magazines, such as Writers’ Forum and Writers Online are an invaluable resource for finding out what competitions are happening or coming up.
“Each issue Writers’ Forum awards cash prizes and publishes the winners of our short story and poetry contests.”
“Our competitions have prizes of £200 and £50 for short stories, and £100 and £50 for poetry. They are open to all writers.”