Key Elements in a Writing Contest … by Kathryn Mattingly

2016_Kathryn-MattinglyI feel honored to be the coordinator for the Northern Colorado Writers Top of the Mountain writing contest associated with the annual conference which will be open to submissions in September. It’s a pleasure working with the wonderful, expert judges and the inspiring entrants who never cease to amaze with their interesting and well-penned manuscripts.

Getting high marks on the following elements is what will land you in the finalist’s circle of any contest and possibly win you the first place award, beginning with Viewpoint. Did you use a consistent, identifiable, and appropriate POV for the scene, and without any author intrusion? If point of view is confusing or unclear to you, be sure to study up on it because, like tense, it is the glue that holds your book together.

Next, scrutinize those characters. Have you developed your protagonist and antagonist effectively? Are they believable? Are we sympathetic to your hero or heroine? This means regardless of the mistakes they are making we understand their motives and are rooting for them to eventually figure it out. We want them to succeed, or otherwise accomplish what they have set out to do. If we don’t care, then you haven’t endeared us to them, which means we are going to close the book somewhere before page 25. Not coincidentally, this is the same number of pages you submit to the contest.