098: How to Win a Contest

How to Win a Contest

4 Tips to Take You to the Winners' Circle

May 4, 2018


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If you want to know how to win a writing contest, take it from someone who has judged a lot of writing contests. Here are four things that will almost automatically get you past the first few rounds of judging. They seem like simple things, but it is amazing how many folks don't do them.


Honestly. You just cannot win if it doesn't fit the contest parameters.

If it's a picture book contest and you send the first chapter of your novel, you simply cannot win.

If it is a contest for children's mysteries and you send a mystery with an all-adult cast, you're not going to win.

If it is a children's poetry contest and your poem is about the frustrations of retirement or the pain of your divorce, winning is not going to happen.

Even if your work is brilliant, can you imagine the firestorm of protest if the winner of their contest didn't match the theme of the contest? So, save your time (and the judge's) for contests where your entry fits.

For 3 more tips to take your contest entry to the top, listen to the full episode!

Click here to download the show notes with extra resources!


Are you ready to take your entry to the top? Enter one of our contests!

ICL After School Short Story Contest

Write a short story in 350-500 words, suitable for a magazine, that takes place at an after school activity. Story should be aimed at 6-9 year olds. You could win up to $650 for your entry. More details HERE.

Deadline is June 30, 2018.


IFW Personal Essay Contest - A Trip That Didn't Go As Planned

Tell us about your trip that didn't go as planned in a personal essay suitable for a magazine or anthology (think Chicken Soup for the Soul). Your essay could be about a trip of a lifetime, a trip to the grocery store, or anything in between. Use no more than 1,000 words with a target audience of 18-80 year olds. Find all the details HERE.

Deadline July 31, 2018.


Angela Dolan
June 22, 2018

Dear Institute, Your after school activity contest reminded me of a before school activity when I brought cool records and player to school for dancing on school grounds with the students. One day my records were thrown out the school bus by my friend Roberta and I never did know why she did that but I recall they landed on her lawn. Inspired my current work on a different angle.

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