Word Weaver UPDATE: I have received the rankings from the last judge (Yes, it was Jenny) AND a question about FUTURE writing contests

Jenny sent me her scores! That means I can tally the votes.


Because I’m slammed today and tomorrow. I’m in the middle of publishing 18 books in the next week or so, and it’s a bit hectic. (It’s part of my deal with Great Oak Publishing Florida and the Young Authors Club I do with local grade schools.)


Plus I’m in the middle of an amazing story I’m editing from another author, which you are all gonna wanna read when it’s done. And I’m supposed to be writing that murder mystery for those USA Today bestselling authors that asked me to be in their anthology…

Busy, busy, busy.

But while I have you here…

Is 3 writing contests a year enough?

Should we try for 4 with varied themes, or maybe have one every other month so you can really develop your writing skills? Maybe a best of/stories of the year announcement, too, showcasing the best of the best?

Because writing short stories forces you to work on getting the story up and running, and that’s the goal of a first chapter, too.

After being a judge in a different contest, an author friend noticed how much writers need to work on brevity, and getting to the point, in their stories. Stephen King has offered a similar opinion:

Stephen King, Bazarr of Bad Dreams

Miscues that can be overlooked in a novel will become glaringly obvious in a short story. Strict discipline is necessary. The writer has to rein in his impulse to follow certain entrancing side paths and stick to the main route.

That’s a great way to hone your opening chapter, too.

I usually say we writer types take a while to get our stories up and running.

As an editor, I usually read the start of a novel and recommend: cut, cut, cut.

Get to the good stuff, and get there quickly.

Writing short stories does that. So it’s a skill we all need in our work, and doing it more will force us to get better at it.

It will build your ability to hook your reader with a better first chapter, and hone your pace to make each successive chapter better, too.

Practice makes perfect. But how do you practice writing?

Write short stories.

I know when I worked on a bunch of book covers for my Young Authors, after about twenty or so I was seeing ways to do it and noticing ways it wouldn’t work. When I was in an online critique group, putting up several chapters a week forced me to hone my writing skills. Editing causes me to be more aware of issues in others’ writing so I see it better in mine.

That’s all a way of saying practice will make you better, and writing more short stories will make all of your writing better.

Besides, it takes a while to write a novel. A short story can get completed quickly, you can let it rest a few days, and revise it a few times before the entry deadline. That process builds those writer muscles we all need.

What do you think?

  • Should we move to holding writing contests every other month?

  • Have different, varied themes to force you to challenge yourself?

  • And add new skills that will enhance your other works?



Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

13 thoughts on “Word Weaver UPDATE: I have received the rankings from the last judge (Yes, it was Jenny) AND a question about FUTURE writing contests

  1. Yes,yes and yes to all that. more writing comps, every other month, with varied themes and new skills to push us to the limits so that our writing skill can improve.

  2. 3 or 4 a year seems to be doable considering everything else that you and your judges have going on in your lives. It needs to be fresh and attractive for you guys, too.

    1. Well, not every theme would appeal to every contestant, and I would use different judges. Choosing different genres or topics would keep it fresh to me. Besides, I’m doing this anyway in the critique groups and editing so it’s just putting the focus on letting the readers choose what the next contests might be.

  3. A challenging schedule for everyone, and I love the quote from Stephen King — essentially restating the “less is more” adage — because short stories really do hone your writing skills when you pay attention to what he is saying. Something I experienced in this latest contest, too. Let’s keep the whole works going!

    1. It’s one of those things I’ve been doing without realizing, and then somebody else mentioned it and I was like, oh yeah. Good point.

      Most of The people who enter our contest are pretty good but when you look at other contests, you realize that’s lacking with a lot of riders and there’s no reason not to point it out and work on it.

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