Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How to Win a Fiction Writing Contest

by Molly Noble Bull

Most contests for fiction writers have similar score sheets. One way to help assure that you win or score high in contests is to try to get a copy of the score sheet from previous years and study it well. Next, send a copy of your proposal along with a copy of the score sheet to someone you trust and ask them to tell you if your chapters and synopsis fit the contest guidelines listed on the score sheet.

Below are some typical questions found on score sheets for fiction writers. The first item on many score sheets is the beginning hook. Make sure your beginning hook grabs the reader.

Now for the questions.

Is there an opening line or paragraph that immediately hooks the reader into the story?

Does the story hold your interest to the end of the book?

Does the setting support the story without intruding?

Are the characters kept clear?

Do inspirational elements grow out of character or plot?

Do scenes flow smoothly, giving a sense of movement?

Is there a good balance between narrative and dialogue, showing and telling?

Do sensory details (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) enhance each scene?

Are subplots interwoven seamlessly into the main plot?

If you are unable to get a copy of an actually score sheet, use the information above. The questions should help you prepare a manuscript that will appeal to readers as well as contest judges.



Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull won the
2008 Gayle Wilson Award and tied for first
place in the 2008 Winter Rose contest,
both for published inspirational authors.
Click below to hear and an excerpt
from Sanctuary.
Proverbs 30: 4


Angela Breidenbach said...

Molly, I missed you at ACFW. I hope we'll find each other next year in Denver! Congrats on those great awards.

Molly Noble Bull said...

Dear Angie,
Thanks or writing. I would love to have met all of your at acfw, but as you know, I didn't attend this year. I went to Denver the last time they had it there, and it was great.
We took some side tours north of Denver, and it was so beautiful.