I have given advice over the years regarding how to write a short story for competitions as there are countless contests to enter for whichever genre or style you write in. Though competitions aren’t only about winning, some techniques and practices will help you improve your writing and consequently increase your chance of winning. Writing competitions can be a good way to improve your writing skills and win exciting prizes.
Crucial points when preparing to enter a writing competition:
- Pay attention to the rules
- Read all past winners
- Proofread, revise, edit, repeat
- Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t rush. This only leads to mistakes
- Make your title interesting
- Your ending needs to satisfy the reader
- Share your story with a few trusted readers
- Most of all… have fun with it
These steps may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised how many contestants fall at the first hurdle. If it states in the rules that your name shouldn’t appear anywhere on the manuscript then make sure it doesn’t.
With the above rules in mind I entered Shooter’s Literary Magazine’s Short Story Competition 2022. My entry was centred around witchcraft. I’m fascinated by the Pendle Witch Trials of sixteen-twelve and how ten innocent souls were hanged as witches.
My story is based around the written account of Jannet Devices, a nine-year-old girl who assisted the authorities to annihilate her entire family and friends. I was shocked how a young girl’s testimony could end in such tragedy and so I delved deeper into the historical facts to find out more.
Jannet not only stated her family were witches but she also basked in the limelight. I guess as a mother myself, I couldn’t quite believe a child would succumb to such treachery. Surely Jannet had been coerced by the authorities at some point? Unable to let it lie and with Jannet haunting my dreams, I decided to write my own version of events and created ‘Malkin Tower’.
Once the story was completed I decided to enter Shooter’s Literary Magazine’s 2022 Short Story Competition. I’d read stories from previous winners and thought ‘Malkin Tower’ would fit well with the magazine.
Months later and out of the blue, I was contacted by Melanie White, editor of Shooter Magazine to say I’d won first prize. Melanie explained how both readers and judges were quickly caught up in the vivid seventeenth-century setting and thought the story was dark and haunting.
I was delighted to hear I had won the competition and subsequently couldn’t wait to share my success with my readers and supporters.
You can enjoy reading the winning entry by clicking here: ‘Malkin Tower.’
I truly hope you enjoy reading ‘Malkin Tower’ as much as I enjoyed writing it and I look forward to reading your comments.
By day, Lynette Creswell is an editor of short story writing, a competition judge and mentor at Hammond House Publishing. By night, she is Lynette E. Creswell, a multi-genre author whose first children’s book Hoglets’ Christmas Magic was published August 2021. The second book in the series, ‘Hoglets’ Birthday Surprise’ is due out October 2022.