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Thursday 12 December 2013

Dee's Top 30 Writing Competition Tips

Author, speaker, writing mentor and all-round wonderful writerly gal, Dee White, is launching her first writing competition for adults this summer.

Dream of spending your summery days penning fabulous stories? Well, get penning, then submit your tales to Dee's writing comp for your chance to win some truly sensational prizes including mentoring and publication in an e-anthology. Dee is also offering feedback for every single entry.

Get your creativity flowing with Dee's Top 30 Writing Competition Tips. Happy writing!

  1. Always read the guidelines carefully.
  2. Before you send your entry off, make sure it follows the guidelines set out for the competition.
  3. Stick to the specified word count.
  4. Formatting can vary from competition to competition so make sure you supply your entry in the correct format. This includes the font you use and the layout on the page.
  5. Hook the reader with a strong beginning - they need to know who your main character is, where they are and what's happening to them right from the start.
  6. Try to think of an original story line or a new slant. Challenge stereotypes. For example, make your action hero a woman or a small child.
  7. Use language to paint unique and powerful pictures for the reader.
  8. Develop compelling characters who the reader will care about.
  9. Dialogue must be authentic - it must sound like real people talking. So it should include body language, pauses and interruptions like real conversations.
  10. Look for ways to add depth to your story through sub-plots, tension, imagery, menace and tension.
  11. If the competition has a theme, make this an intrinsic part of your writing.
  12. Use active rather than passive voice.
  13. For short stories, try and stick to one point of view character so you don't confuse the judges.
  14. Use strong verbs rather than adverbs.
  15. Remember that the judge might have to read hundreds of entries so try and make your story stand out for its great writing, compelling characters and unique ideas.
  16. Try and surprise the judges by making your story less predictable (but in a logical and believable way)
  17. Think of new angles on old themes
  18. Choose your words carefully. Every word should earn its place in your story.
  19. Use metaphors and similes but don't overdo them.
  20. Read your work out loud before you send it in. Does it flow? Have you repeated words or phrases?
  21. Show don't tell.  Allow the story to unfold through the actions and reactions of the main characters.
  22. Be original with your ideas and language - don't use clich├ęs.
  23. Make sure your story has a clear central theme that you follow throughout the piece.
  24. Don't overload your story with too many themes or big ideas.
  25. Judges are always looking for a strong voice. Try and inject your own personality into your writing.
  26. Make your story ending, believable, surprising and memorable.
  27. Think about/do some research on who is likely to be reading and judging your story. What do they like to write and read?
  28. Write from the heart and don't be afraid to use humour.
  29. Edit your work until it shines.
  30. Proofread your work. If you're not a strong speller, find a reader who is.

Dee White is the author of 16 fiction and non-fiction titles for children and young adults. She has also had a number of short stories published for both adults and children.

She is a qualified writing teacher and mentor, passionate about encouraging new writers. Her blogs writingclassesforkids.com and deescribewriting.wordpress.com are full of career and writing tips.

Dee has run many writing workshops for adults and students in various states of Australia with sessions focussing on story ideas, plotting and character development.