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Between the Pages, Past
A Mystery Column
By Dennis Collins

Writing Contests: pathway to a career

Many aspiring writers never blossom because they're simply intimidated by the process. How do I get my work in front of publishers? Would anybody take my writing seriously? Too many talented writers allow their manuscripts to wither and die because of basic questions like these. But the answer is really simple… enter a writing contest.

Writing contests are a proven way to get noticed and they offer something for every style and genre, even poetry and they're everywhere. The variety is endless, there are internet sites like that are virtual catalogues, who cover things like grants for writers, and there’s with its tutorials and advice columns. Actually, any search engine will yield scores if not hundreds of opportunities for submission. You will find genre specific contests, short story contests, novellas, etc. You can also search for contests that do or do not charge an entry fee. The prizes may range from one time publication to cash to full blown publishing contracts. Choose your level of competition and go for it.

My personal experience with writing contests has been overwhelmingly positive. The first short story I ever submitted became a finalist and led to a publishing offer. I've never finished in first place but have made the final cut a few times. And some have even drawn helpful and constructive critiques from the judges as well as connections to publishers and agents.

One of the intangible benefits is that you can enter several contests at a time and that activity helps you avoid one of the writer’s worst enemies and that is the feeling of stagnation. There are so many contests out there, it makes it easy to constantly keep your writing and more importantly, your name in front of dozens of industry professionals.

Whether you're a rookie or a veteran, writing contests make sense to keep you fresh and keep you moving.

2015 Past Columns