I’m in the process of judging a couple of competitions at the moment, and there’s one observation that’s really standing out to me: Entries way under the maximum word count.
All competitions set a maximum word count. Entries that exceed this are disqualified. I’ve seen a few competitions that also have a minimum word count: but not many. I don’t feel comfortable setting a minimum word count, because if you’ve got something to say, and you can say it successfully in far fewer words than the maximum, I don’t believe an entrant should be forced to ‘pad’ just to make it meet a minimum word count threshold.
I was recently interviewed by Helen Walters for her competition column in Writers’ Forum, and the piece has just been published in the July 2016 issue, out now. I thought I’d repeat some of the tips here, but if you can, do go out and buy the magazine for the full interview, and also because it’s packed full of other useful articles for writers too.
What do you look for, when judging a short story competition?
A student recently queried with me the value of entering competitions. What’s the point, because, in her opinion, she didn’t think her entry was of a good enough quality.
Well, let’s just hang on a minute there, shall we? There’s part of me that wants to remind entrants to ‘know their place’. You are the entrant. You do the writing and entering, and leave the judge to the judging!