Last year at around this time, I entered a unique writing contest hosted by D.L. Hammons. It’s called WRiTE CLUB, and requires participants to submit 500-word pieces under a pen name. These submissions were screened by a panel of judges, and the top 32 chosen for sixteen head-to-head bouts. Victory was determined by votes, left as comments by the reading public. Given the anonymity, the voters only had the writing to go on.
Writing a 500-word piece wasn’t terribly difficult. To win NaNoWriMO, you need to write more than three times that every day for 30 days, and I’ve never lost. The challenge was making it a piece of writing that people might actually vote for. I went back and read some of the entries that had won bouts in the previous years. Humor played well, as did voicey first-person narrators.
Long story short, I went on to become the reigning WRiTE CLUB champion. If you’re up for it, you can read the complete chronicle of my WRiTE CLUB experience that I posted last year. Alas, my time with the title is nearing an end, because a new year of WRiTE CLUB is rapidly approaching. You should enter! Here’s why.
Why to Enter WRiTE CLUB
This contest is open to everyone. There’s no requirement (or cost) for entering. Here are a few reasons that you should:
- It’s easy to enter. All it takes is a pen name and a 500-word piece of fiction. Note, that piece can’t have been published before, even on the web.
- It’s a writing challenge. 500 words makes this a flash assignment. Many writers never tackle something that short, and it truly teaches an economy of words.
- You’ll have fun. It’s hard to get excited about a contest you haven’t entered, and this one is always a lot of fun. Once the bouts begin, you’ll get to vote for at least 2 and sometimes as many as 5 matchups per week. It’s a blast.
- The prizes are awesome. The champion gets free admission to the famed DFW Conference in Dallas in 2016. Both finalists get a $75 Amazon gift card.
A Few WRiTE CLUB Tips
Writing contests like these aren’t won by accident. Here are some tips that helped me do well last year, and might do the same for you:
- Start writing yesterday. It’s quite possible to bang out 500 words in half an hour, but you’ll want to polish it for a long time before sending in your submission. Trust me, at this length, every word counts.
- Study what works. You can read every bout from last year, including the comments where voters often explained what worked (or didn’t work) for them. Go back and learn from this.
- Choose a pen name carefully. First of all, it should hold up to scrutiny. Don’t use a nickname or the title for one of your characters or WIPs, because people will find that. I identified two of my opponents’ true identities without even trying.
- Don’t out yourself. Definitely don’t encourage people to vote for certain entries (especially yours). This is up to each voter.
- Make sure to vote. Anonymity works both ways: you can vote in any bout, including your own. In the later rounds, one vote can make a big difference.
- Offer a few words. Votes are done in the comments section, and the writers would sure appreciate hearing constructive criticism, or encouragement.
When you’re ready, go to the Write Club 2015 page for entry instructions. Just make sure you enter by the deadline, which April 30th.
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