James Wheeler, Managing Director, Perito Prize
We all recognise that feeling of our submissions being sucked into the black hole of writing competitions. There are methods which increase a story’s chance of escaping and returning a winner.
A Starter For Ten – It’s essential, when submitting to competitions, especially popular ones, that writers help their story to stand out from the crowd. This doesn’t mean shaking things up with sensuous serifs plonked amongst a fandango of page and dialogue layouts. Go back to your first paragraph, put it back in the writing oven and cook it till you can’t do anymore yourself.
The first few lines of a novel are important, but in a short story competition they are vital. Many writers are still starting with the weather so turn off that rain machine, rake up those Autumn leaves, and take your scene off the front porch. Write from the heart and get your writing style down on the first line– it’ll shine through and make your story different enough to get onto the long list.
A Rushed End – A huge number of stories start with good pacing, and then something happens three quarters of the way through. The writer hits the fast-forward button and suddenly the character who spent the first 1000 words of their childhood dreaming about going to Harvard is now not only there but has finished their degree, become President, solved global conflict and launched it into space all in about two hundred and fifty words. Take the time to consider the entire story you want to create because you might have made it through to the long list on the strength of the opening lines but you’ll be back out in the also-rans if the narrative gets lost in the final third.