Flash Fiction Challenge – Should I Host A Writing Contest?

head shot 2
Me, potential writing contest host

I have a few friends who enter writing contests (for examples, click HERE and HERE.) I have other friends who enter contests, too, but if you co-host a video show with me, like Jenny and Allison do, I tend to mention ones you did.

I think I may have entered a contest before, I don’t really know. I do know I entered something… and started a fight… and blew up my Twitter account – but that was different. I blew it up over a freaking Sea World pic I posted, too – of my kid with a dolphin. Twitter. Sheesh.

Anyway, I was thinking…

a real writing contest might be fun.

Also, my friends win money at these things. I think second place was like $25, so maybe first place was $50. Probably third place was, I don’t know – ten bucks?

That’s about $85.

I have that.

And they paid to enter the contest. So if I charged $5 and got, what, 17 people to enter, I could give out prizes and break even. (Or charge ten bucks and get fewer people, or give the leftover money to charity.) That’s not bad, for a $50 prize.

Oh, and it’d be a legit contest. I’d pick a topics and give you a week or two to write an essay showcasing your amazing writing skills. The submissions would actually get read. We do that anyway, with our Flash Fiction Challenges – so why not? The topics would vary. Paranormal one time, Romance the next.

Then you get to say you won the such and such award.

Hmm… we’d need a name. Something cool, too, not “The Dan Award” – although that does have a ring to it.

What else?

A logo? Probably. Maybe Rachael Ritchie can come up with something. But everyone’s invited to make suggestions.

So we need a logo and a name. What about The Sunshine Independent Authors Award For Fine Writing?

That’s… a little long.

The Sunshine Independent Author Award?

We would invite everybody, not just indies… but that could still work.

Okay, so we gotta work on all that.

Here’s where you come in.

  1. Do we do this at all? (You can say No. I can go right back to being lazy.)
  2. We need a name for the award. List you suggestions and LIKE whichever ones you think are best. You can suggest as many as you want.
  3. We need a logo. Artsy folks, feel free to send me something; non-artsy folks, this may not be your game, but tell us what you have in mind.
  4. What should the fee be? I’ll pay out 100% of whatever we take in, so if we make $100 we’ll give it all away. Should we give it to a charity, too? When you entered a contest, where did the money go? I’m not sure a charity getting involved helps. Who’d want to be associated with me anyway? I tend to speak off the cuff and embarrass folks. Charities tend to not like that stuff.
  5. JUDGES. Ha, you though this as gonna be easy, huh? Well I’d like at least 2 other people to sit in and read submissions if we get more than ten. Each of us can read 1/3, select our best ones, and the panel will decide the winner based on an elaborate point system or something. Probably I’ll be able to read them all, but just in case, let me know if you’d like to judge. That doesn’t mean you can’t submit, by the way. You won’t judge your own essay, though. No sneaky stuff.

Okay, that’s it. Once we decide a name and stuff, we’ll decide when to have this soiree and get it rolling! Maybe we’d have one a month, or one every three months, who knows?

Give me your thoughts on all this!


43 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Challenge – Should I Host A Writing Contest?

  1. Aww hell! I’d say test it out. I know a guy who may be able to create a good logo once there’s a name/ And $5 sounds reasonable. I’d pay in but I am tempted to volunteer to be a judge (though I’m not sure if I’m qualified enough haha I’ve only been nominated for awards and been a runner up once, not really won any to boast of yet)


  2. There are a bunch of ways you can do this. I entered one that had no fee and the only prize was publication on the blog (which had a respectable following, as you do). The one you linked to wasn’t a charity, per se, but it was to raise money for a service dog for a little boy. That one did have an entry fee, obviously, as well as prizes provided by sponsors.

    Ideas for your contest: Winners can be guests on the WOTWF show if they want, or maybe they get a featured post (featuring them and/or their book) by you in addition to having the winning story published. Or you can go the money route. I’m not sure there’s a wrong way to do it, except if you steal the money and there are no winners. That’s bad.

    I’ll be a judge if needed. I have an idea for the point system too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Dan, I believe you would be good at hosting almost anything. It’s your face. You could sell almost anything. You could call it, Dan is the Man, award. I love your humor, and your approach to the craft of writing. Just do it Dan. I believe anything you do will succeed. You just have that face of success, and one that other’s will joyfully follow and get involved. You could lead the multitudes Dan. Have a wonderful writer kind of day.

    Sincerely, Brenda Rae Schoolcraft

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think its a “novel” idea to add to your blog Dan..

    The contest name.. hmmmm.. since you’ll be setting the parameters for topics to be made into stories, these will all be off the cuff stories, if I understood your post correctly..

    Giving me the idea for the name,

    Dan’s Dandy Draft Dash


    I like the monetary aspect and to be done monthly..
    A dollar an entry with a prize limit of say $50 1st prize.. 2nd and 3rd prizes, no money just special recognition..

    That’s my thoughts on it.. Keep those wheels turning in that beautiful mind 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s a good idea and I just want to enter, not be a judge ( too scary). I can’t help with the art because I can only draw a stick man. I’ll be happy to have the fee go to a charity or whatever. It sounds like a lot of fun. Other contests I’ve looked at are too intimidating and the parameters are often unclear, but this one sounds fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I can guarantee $85 up front and have the entry fees offset it to pay me back, and the balance go to a charity (I’ve worked with plenty of charities and a friend does work with Alzheimer’s). It’s more the bragging rights I think.

      These are great suggestions!


  6. Could be great, Dan. My brain is shut down for the night since I went whitewater rafting this morning (with my daughter and the youth group) then baked yummy delicious desserts for my parents 40th wedding anniversary party tomorrow. I overcooked the coffee cake, though. Ugh. “Here, dip a cinnamon rock in your coffee.”
    I like Word Weaver Award. That sounds fancy. 🙂 And if people have ideas for logo/award badge type stuff I can whip up 1st draft sorts of ideas to at least get the imagination churning. 🙂 Enjoy your Sunday!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, I was thinking along the same lines, but I was going to start off very small and much less ambitious than you, Dan. Not a contest per se. No money-collecting, but maybe prize issuance at some future point. I think you can look at this several ways, which you appear to be doing. As an author, I like to have the copyright issues clearly spelled out. Newbies who submit might not even think to ask about that, but if their story is published anywhere (including on a blog), that will often count as true publication, so it very well might hinder their story from being submitted in the future (unless their target market allows reprints; in that case, they as authors/writers usually get much less money from reprints). For your sake as judges, I think you have to limit it to microfiction; that protects you and the writers. For the reason I just mentioned (about reprints/has it been published before), a writer can submit, say, a 200-word story to you and later rework it into a 6,000-word short story and might not face the same obstacle of it having been published before. Then, from the administrative standpoint, you’re not having to read 200 twenty-page stories in the space of a week (or whatever timeline you’re looking at). For me, and this is mostly a financial reason, I don’t enter contests that charge. I’ve made exceptions, but it’s for well-known publications (Molotov Cocktail, for example). Some contests offer subscriptions with the entry fee; occasionally they’ll offer a short critique in with your entry fee (or have you pay extra for a critique, of whatever length). There are really many, many directions you could go, Dan. In my humble opinion, it all depends on what you hope to accomplish: reward authors? Drive readers to your space? Create connections among a network of authors? Some combination of all that? And, yes, as one of the very first commenters suggested, a lot of times, ‘winning’ does involve publishing on a blog, magazine, ebook, in an anthology, or some such. Make sure you spell out clearly what each winner (places 1-3, honorable mentions, whatever) ‘gets’ when s/he wins. Make sure you tell all the others who enter what rights they retain (FNASR, for example? or are you going to publish virtually every entry that doesn’t contain no-nos that you might like to spell out: no rape/animal abuse/bestiality/child abuse, etc. Yes, a lot times, that has to be—or at least is—spelled out.) As for me, I’m very selective about where I want my writing to be published (if it wins a contest), and I tend to choose publishers/promoters/editors who have their shtuff together, so to speak. No one wants to lose the copyright on her story! And, when you’ve got it all together, look into getting your contest listed on Duotrope as a new market. Good luck; I can’t wait to see what y’all put together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Were you a lawyer in a past life? That’s waaay too smart for this early in the morning (and yes it’s almost noon here).

      I think the primary goal is going to be to have fun and promote authors who come to my site. A little recognition never hurt anybody. I personally haven’t ever entered a writing contest where there was a fee and thought that was kind of a rule to not do that, but I’m in the minority opinion. Some writer friends who I respect a lot enter contests with fees all the time, so what do I know! Meanwhile, if we can get some talented people a little spotlight time, that sounds good to me!

      Thank you for the support and enthusiasm. People like you will probably help keep me out of trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yeah, that’s a pretty good rule of thumb. Don’t pay to publish, per se, but if you are plugged into the writing community, you’ll develop your tastes and “Spidey-senses”! for when it IS a good idea to pay a fee. I think you find it [having to pay a submission fee] much more often with lit contests, imho, but, then again, many of them have print editions to pay for, and you ‘get’ a subscription or issue out of it.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Nah, it’s legit to me. But there are some bad actors out there—authors and editors—unfortunately. So, you want to protect yourself and your judges from criticism, if you can, and do it in such a way as to be as transparent as possible. Also, try to make it as ‘blind’ as possible, with the authors’ names divorced from the mss. Multiple readers is a great idea, too. I don’t know how involved it is, but you could also explore setting up an account on Submittable as the administrator of a writing contest/publisher.

        Liked by 1 person

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