Short story competitions are the way to go once you finish a draft of your writing. But (first!) why write short stories? Have you heard the great writing advice for new writers from George R.R. Martin on this topic? Here you go:
I would also suggest that any aspiring writer begin with short stories. These days, I meet far too many young writers who try to start off with a novel right off, or a trilogy, or even a nine-book series. That’s like starting in at rock climbing by tackling Mt. Everest.
Now that’s just one perspective, but a pretty-freaking-realistic one. I know we all have those epic ideas for, well, epics. But, when learning a craft as in-depth and multifaceted as writing, it’s nice to take it a little slow—it’s nice to set achievable writing goals and focus on developing our style before we overwhelm ourselves with a seven-book-series. Alternatively, jumping into a seven part series from the get-go worked for soooome people. Moral of the story: do what feels right for you.
Let’s assume you took Martin’s advice, and started your writing journey working on short stories. Let’s imagine a scenario: your draft has cycled through several peer-review editing sessions. With each passing cycle between your writing buddies, the amount of red-inked corrections diminishes in your draft. All of your writing buddies agree: It’s time for you to take the next step.
It’s time to look for ways to get published.
One way to get your name and work out there is to submit it to short story competitions. Now, there’s tons of short story competitions out there. Some are good, some are scammy-bad, and some fall in the middle. Most have entry fees. Duuuuude. Can we talk about this for a minute? I know, that the costs of publication and promoting a publication are expensive, but man, I’m not made of money.Most new writers aren’t.
So, what do you do if you have writing ready for submitting, but don’t want to dole out cash?
Fortunately for you and your killer-awesome-fantastic short story, there are plenty of short story competitions that do not require an entry fee. I got you. Here’s three competitions you can submit to this year.
Short story competitions that are free to enter
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: March 31, 2017 (but it looks like it’s a quarterly contest, so bookmark this and check back for the next deadline if you don’t have something to submit right this second).
The Nitty-Gritty: Entrants must be amateur and unpublished writers. Accepted genres: new (never before published) short stories and science fiction or fantasy novelettes. Up to 17,000 words in length.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: The competition for 2017 hasn’t been updated yet, but historically, this contest ends October 31 at midnight. Winners announced in December.
The Nitty-Gritty: Submissions must be up to 4,000 words.
Entry Fee: Free
Deadline: The deadline for 2017 isn’t posted yet, but there’s a tentative submission date between September and December 2017. You’ll want to bookmark this contest and check back for more information.
The Nitty-Gritty: You can enter up to two short stories a month. Entries must be between 400-1,500 words. International submissions excepted, but must be in English.
Hopefully, having an deadline and purpose for writing sets you in motion. I, personally, find that I do my best when there’s deadlines outside of my own head. It can be hard to write when there’s no deadline or due date. There are days when I miss my teachers breathing down my neck forcing me to finish my writing and essays and everything. Sort of.
Just getting started on drafting up your short story? Here’s some resources that will get you on a roll:
RELATED: Brainstorm a Novel Idea that Readers Love in 10 Minutes I know we’re working on short stories, but this post is a good one to get your ideas and creativity flowing. Check it out!
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