Open Poetry Competition

1st Prize: £100.00

2nd Prize: £75.00

3rd Prize: £50.00

Closing date: August 21st 2012

Entry fee: £2.00 or FREE to Creative Competitor Premier1 Members

Fancy winning £100 cash in our open poetry competition? It’s easy. Simply submit your poem with a maximum of 40 lines to info@creative-competitor.co.uk and mark Open Poetry Competition in the subject line.

Your poem can be on any subject but must be previously unpublished. Entries are welcome from writers worldwide.

Please double-check your submission prior to sending and ensure that it is received on or by the closing date. Note it can take some time to review all of the submissions so entry implies acceptance to this rule.

Multiple submissions are welcome, simply change the quantity in the PayPal field. Alternatively, you can enter this and all of our competitions for free if you become a Creative Competitor Premier1 Member.



500 Word Fiction Competition Winner

 

1st Prize; £100.00 Sarah Shaw

2nd Prize: £75.00 Oliver Davidson

3rd Prize: £50.00  Nick Heyes

What a Con!

by Sarah Shaw

“‘Ere Darling, take a look at the quality of this” He thrust a torn brochure into her hands. “We can transform your ‘ouse” He sniffed, wiping his nose on his sleeve. “You can trust our ‘igh quality workmanship”

Margaret shuddered at the thought of Ray and his two shifty looking mates from doing anything in her garden. Now living alone, she had worked hard over the years investing in her home improvements and loved her house. She looked at Ray’s dirty bitten fingernails and tried to stop showing her distaste on her face.

As if sensing her reluctance, Ray snapped his fingers and Joey and Cliff swaggered over stepping closer to her.

“We’re not unreasonable, tell us what you can afford and we will do it as a favour ‘cos of your age. “ Joey said, looking her up and down, making Margaret wince.

“’’Ow much you got Luv?” Cliff said grinning as he revealed two broken front teeth. “£2000 cash would do us and you get your dream driveway” He stank of beer “We’re not taking no for an answer darling”

Shrinking back into the safety of her porch, Margaret agreed. “I have the cash” and she pointed to the purse that lay on the hall table “But, you only get paid if you do a good job.”  Stepping back quickly, she slammed the door in their faces. She knew they would be back again and again. You heard about these things on the news, dodgy men preying on the elderly? Margaret hated the fact that they thought that she was weak but, as she caught her reflection in the hall mirror, her grey hair told her that she really was.

At two am, strange noises at the bottom of the stairs awoke Margaret and her hearth thudded erratically. She was frozen to the core, her legs like jelly. What was happening downstairs? There was no stealth or moving quietly, only purposeful movements. Suddenly the lights blazed on throughout the house and she sat up quickly, rushing out to the landing.

“It’s ok Margaret, you can come down love” Three burly police officers stood grinning from ear to ear and had easily apprehended the dodgy threesome from earlier. They stood sulkily clutching her £2000 pound cash distributed between them.

“We will need you to make a statement Margaret but you can do that tomorrow. In the meanwhile, this dodgy trio are getting booked into our cells.” The policemen waved cheerily as they left and Margaret breathed a sigh of relief. Setting herself up as a guinea pig for these crooks had taken its toll and that was with her former police training. She hadn’t been able to refuse the request from the local nick of course. They knew she yearned for the old life and she had willingly offered to help but with the neighbourhood now safe, she realised that her retirement years were suddenly looking more and more attractive.  Time for a cuppa.

 

Current Writing Competitions

Want an up-to-date list of our new writing contests? Well here it is. We have added lots of exciting writing contests guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing and more will follow.

All you need to do is to click on the link below and then choose to open or save the document.

We look forward to receiving your submissions in due course and wish you the very best of luck.

current writing competitions

Fed up with paying for writing competitions? Why  not choose our Membership Package and enter any or all of our writing competitions for free? Details are here.

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Witness to Murder Writing Competition

1st Prize: £200.00

2nd Prize: £150.00

3rd Prize: £100.00

4th Prize: £50.00

Closing date: 10th August 2012

Entry Fee: £4.00

Imagine that you have witnessed a crime and your life may be in danger. This competition is all about your story-telling abilities writing the story in the first person as the crime and any potential risks unravel for the reader.

You have a maximum of 2000 words excluding the title.  Entries must be original and previously unpublished. All submissions must be written in English.We prefer submissions by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk please mark the title of the competition in the subject line.

It can take some time to judge competition submissions and entry into this competition implies acceptance to this condition.

Pay now and submit later:

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

500 Word Writing Competition

1st Prize: £150.00

2nd Prize: £100.00

3rd Prize: £75.00

Closing date: 25th July 2012

Entry fee: £3.00 or FREE to Premier1 Members

To win this fabulous writing competition, all you  have to do is to complete the story in 500 words or less. The title of the story is called ‘ Late’ and you have been given the opening sentence to start you off.

Late again! Vicky knew she was in real trouble this time….

The word count excludes the story title and the opening sentence. Your story must be written in English, be original and previously unpublished.

Competitors must be aged 18 and over to enter.

It can take some time for us to complete the judging process so entry into this competition implies acceptance to this condition.

Please email your entry to us on or by the closing date. Add the story title to the subject line and paste your 500 word or less submission into the body of the email.

Want to get started now? Pay now and submit later:

 

 

Family Secrets Writing Competition

1st Prize: £150.00

2nd Prize: £100.00

3rd Prize: £75.00

Closing date: 10th July 2012

Entry Fee: £3.00 or FREE to Premier1 Members

Using the photo for inspiration, write a story around the couple and create a family secret. You have only 1200 words excluding the title  in which to wow us with your creativity so don’t waste a word.  All entries must be in English and be unique and previously unpublished.

We would prefer to receive your entries by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk

Please add the title of the competition to the subject line and paste your entry into the body of the email.

It can take some while to judge all of the entries that we receive so entry into this competition implies acceptance to this condition.

 

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Text Message Writing Competition

 1st Prize: £75.00

2nd Prize: £50.00

3rd Prize: 3  Months Premier1 Membership

Closing date: June 30th 2012

Entry fee: £2.00 or FREE to Premier1 Members

To win any of our great prizes, all you have to do is to interpret the photo and create a text message in less than fifty words. You can be as creative as you like. Surprise us, shock us or simply impress us.

Please do not use ‘text speak’.

Your entry must be unique and previously unpublished. All submissions must be written in English.

We prefer entries to be made by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk. Please paste within the body of the email and ensure that you put the competition title in the subject line.

All submissions must be supported by the correct entry fee, Premier1 members can enter any or all of our writing competitions for free.

Please note: It can take some time for us to complete the judging process so entry implies acceptance to this rule.

You must be 18 years of age or older to enter this writing competition.

Keen to get started? Pay your entry fee here:

 

 

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Young Adult Fiction Contest

1st Prize:£200.00

2nd Prize:£150.00

3rd Prize: £100.00

Closing date: June 12th 2012

Entry Fee: £3.50 Free to Creative Competitor Premier1 Members

To win any one of our three fantastic prizes, simply create the opening page to  a young adult fiction story and send to us. There is no set word count but please note that your entry must fit onto one A4 page including the title.

Now remember that this story is aimed at the young adult market, so consider your terminology and style.

Your entry must be unique and previously unpublished. All submissions must be written in English.

We prefer entries to be made by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk. Please paste within the body of the email and ensure that you put the competition title in the subject line.

All submissions must be supported by the correct entry fee, Premier1 members can enter any or all of our writing competitions for free.

Please note: It can take some time for us to complete the judging process so entry implies acceptance to this rule.

Must be 18+ to enter this competition.

Cheque payments can be made in euros to Annette Young but we prefer payment via PayPal where possible by using the PAYPAL buttons or by sending the correct fee via PayPal to the email address: info@creative-competitor.co.uk

Writing Competitions- The Judging Process

Part Two

By Annette Young

Last week I wrote that it may be much easier to win a writing competition than you might think and I wanted to follow on this week to clarify just what happens once you have submitted your entry.

All submissions get filed into a specific electronic folder the moment that they arrive in the in-box and this way, we know that we have all of the entries safe and secure for when judging begins. There is general admin work such as spending time to ensure that correct entry fees have been made and also checking the Premier membership entries are valid ones plus once reviewing starts we check that all submissions do adhere to the word count rule.

Volumes received can vary and if you are keen to enter a writing competition, you do have more chance of winning a smaller competition than one of the  big ones simply because less people enter the smaller competitions- for obvious reasons, there is less prize money to tempt people.

The judging process is time-consuming, we read each and every submission, looking for tightly written entries, good characterization, a compelling opening, a strong plot and a good pace throughout. Obviously the criteria may change depending on the type of competition and the rules and one of our main preferences is that entries take any given theme and provide an imaginative response.

Some submissions are disqualified quickly, others are then rejected due to the quality of writing after they have been reviewed several times. This process continues until a short list of the best entries can be created. We tend to leave these to one side for a while so that when we return to the submissions, we review them with fresh eyes and can judge more fairly.

The process from start to finish can be a lengthy one but we do our utmost to ensure that the best entry wins. From a writing perspective, it is never easy to sit back and wait for the results but as someone who has entered many writing competitions, I would say, don’t sit back and wait. Get on with the process of writing and developing your skills. Keep entering new competitions, keep writing short stories and articles or get started on your novel project.

Whilst you should always keep a note of which competitions have been entered, there is no point sitting back with nail-biting nerves hoping and praying that your entry is going to win, instead utilize that time wisely, get as many of your writing projects out there as is possible and you never know you might have lots of competition wins under your belt.

500 Word Fiction Writing Contest

1st Prize; £100.00

2nd Prize: £75.00

3rd Prize: £50.00

Closing date; March 15th 2012

Entry fee: £3.00 or free if you are a Creative Competitor Premier1 member

Using the photo for inspiration, create a compelling story that make us hang onto every word.

You can be completely creative with your interpretation  but you must include all three characters in some way. Entries must be completely original and previously unpublished.

You have a maximum of 500 words including the title so make sure that you use each word wisely.

We prefer submissions by email to info@creative-competitor.co.uk

We publish the winning story only allowing the other prize winners to re-use their entry if they so wish.

Note: It can take us some time to judge our writing contests as we read and review each and every one, so we appreciate your patience  in this matter. Entry into this competition implies acceptance to these terms.

 

Character Profile Writing Competition

1st Prize: £100

2nd Prize:£75

3rd Prize: £50

4th Prize: 3 months Creative Competitor Premier1  Membership

Closing date: 21st February 2012

Entry fee: £2.50 or free to Creative Competitor Premier1 members

Write a detailed character profile using the photo published on this page for inspiration. We want to know everything there is to know about your character. Bring him to life by adding rich layers of detail to the profile.

Note: We do not want a story but a detailed summary depicting relevant information about the character. (Name, age, occupation, hobbies, likes and dislikes, experiences etc).

There is no set word count.

We will publish the winning submission only.

It can take some time to choose the winning entry so we thank you in advance for your patience.

Image:© Elena Milevska | Dreamstime.com

One Week Fiction Challenge

Thank you for your interest in participating in our One Week Fiction Challenge. We are only allowing 75 entrants into this competition so if you wish to take part, reserve your place now and you could win any one of these great prizes. If the Add to Cart button is not visible, you know that the competition is now full.

 

1st Prize: £200.00
2nd Prize: £150.00

3rd Prize: £100.00
4th Prize: £75.00

5th Prize: The Busy Writer Course
6th Prize: Premier1 Membership  x 3 months

7th Prize: Personal Coaching Session
8th Prize: £10.00 CC Gift Voucher

We do anticipate places filling up fast however so don’t miss out.

The competition starts on 14th January and you will receive full details of your challenge on that date which then gives you one week to complete the challenge to the best of your ability. Your submission must be returned on or before 21st January.

To confirm your place, simply pay your £5.00 entry fee (Premier1 Members-Free-please email us and we will add your name to the competition) and you will then be directed to a sign-up box. Please add your name and your email address (the email address where you would like your Fiction Challenge details to be sent to). This then reserves your place in the competition and makes the process of mailing out the competition details much more efficient.

Want to participate?

Free Writing Competition March

We asked you to write the next line of dialogue using this photo for inspiration. You had just 50 words. Congratulations go to Pauline Leech with her winning entry below:

Pizza Express? That’s a joke! What do you mean you can’t deliver until I’m back home? I’m having a picnic and I want pizza….now!

Pauline wins 3 months membership to the Creative Competitor Premier1 Membership.

First Chapter Writing Competition

1st Prize: £300
2nd Prize:£200
3rd Prize:£100
4th Prize:£50

Entry fee: £4.00

Closing date: October 21st 2011

A first chapter has to be convincing, compelling and tightly written to capture the reader’s attention and to plunge them straight into the heart of the plot so this competition requires you to think carefully about your opening and to lead the reader (i.e. us) into a plot that ensnares us immediately.

Hook us and you could win a fantastic cash prize and publication. (Winning Submission only). Your first chapter can be in any style or genre and must be written in 5000 words or less.
Submissions must be previously unpublished and original.

Open to writers worldwide but please note you must be over 18 years of age to win a cash prize.

Please send your submission by email to: info@creative-competitor.co.uk
Write First Chapter Competition in the subject line.

Submissions can be sent by post-address details here:

Please note: It can take some time (months on occasion)to judge writing competitions as we ensure that we read each and every submission and work on a short-list process. By entering this competition, you are implying acceptance to the rules.

Winter Ghost Story Competition Winner

1st Prize: £500.00 – Jane Booth
2nd Prize: £200.00 – Clyde West
3rd Prize: £150.00 – C.Gordon
4th Prize: Flash Fiction Writing Course – Sarah Edwards

House of Marianne

by Jane Booth

The cottage was dark and depressive but it was exactly what Calvin needed, even so, shivers ran down his spine at the thought of staying too long in these tainted shadows. Looking around the room he could imagine the murder that took place here only too well, blood splattered walls and the dismembered body. He wondered what her last thoughts would have been before she lost consciousness.

The house, famous for its murderous past had long stood empty, the current owner had inherited the property and had tried to sell it for years, ensuring that the essentials of the house were cared for during those viewing times, but he had long since given up on trying to sell it as its reputation was too grisly and even the locals tried to avoid the house. Calvin imagined that in its former glory, it would have looked beautiful. It was large for a typical cottage and some of the rooms had fairly high ceilings avoiding the claustrophobic feel of other cottages he had been to but the doorways were low and he had already managed to bang his head when he had struggled in with his cases. As the sun emerged from behind the clouds, shafts of golden light filtered into the gloom and when he looked out the window, the unloved garden showed glimpses of its former beauty.

Calvin stepped back out of the cottage into the sunlight and breathed a sigh of relief. He didn’t believe in ghosts and the fact that the cottage was reported to be haunted didn’t faze him but he had to admit, it was good to get out of the murky gloom. He followed the jagged pathway around to the back of the house, noting how the weeds were choking the life from the remaining plants. He surveyed his accommodation and surrounding garden with curiosity, if the right person bought the place, they could do so much to it, he mused. The garden was big, densely planted, overgrown but it had that typical country garden feel to it and it could be a restful place, charming even.

A large oak tree sprawled impressively to one side, its branches reaching towards him like a giant claw. An old wooden swing hung from one of the branches and he wondered if anyone used it now. The swing was moving gently and Calvin furrowed his brow wondering if the breeze was strong enough to cause the movements, but then he shrugged and turned his attention elsewhere. Drawn to the thicket clumps on his right, he began pulling away large quantities of  choke weed, feeling a sense of satisfaction as the taught vines gave way under the pressure. As he continued to clear some of the undergrowth, the sun emerged, golden rays warming his back and chasing away the shadows. The light glinted on a small object half buried in the soil. Prizing it from its resting place, he straightened up, holding it up to the light, a small golden pendant faded with age and covered with dirt, it was elegantly designed but he couldn’t make out any details without cleaning it up first.

Calvin stepped back suddenly from the borders; as a wave of giddiness threatened overwhelm him.
For a second or two, he swayed, fighting the roaring noise in his ears and the trembling in his legs. ‘Must have stood up too quickly’ he thought, steadying himself as the waves of dizziness dissipated. The pendant felt warm in his hands, unnaturally so and yet suddenly Calvin felt cold. A shiver ran eerily down his spine as if being watched and he turned quickly, looking back at the house. Scanning the garden, he noticed the swing moving eerily but there was no one watching him. As the sun disappeared behind a series of grey clouds, Calvin left the pile of weeds and raced back to the cottage as the first drops of rain splattered to the ground.

As darkness enveloped and the rain splattered against the windows, Calvin typed away on his battered old laptop, inspired by his surroundings as he continued with his series of commissioned articles on ghost watching. As a non-believer, he hadn’t wanted to turn down the writing commission as money was short but trying to write as a ghost hunter enthusiast hadn’t been easy. Talking about his frustrations in his local pub over a few beers had led to the suggestion of him staying in a haunted house overnight to experience the thrill for himself, and then someone had mentioned this cottage, speaking of the young woman who had been murdered and the blood ravaged body that had been found some weeks later.

The rest was history, Calvin mused as he tried to focus on the tasks at hand, he was here and he was still struggling to conjure up his enthusiasm for the articles. He had to admit though that it was far easier to succumb to the creepy atmosphere now that he was here and he could at least see why people reacted in the way that they did. Shadows danced around the room from the four large candles and only the light from the laptop pierced the gloom convincingly. But even so, he wasn’t scared, merely enjoying the sensation of becoming more ‘aware’ and touching base with an inner sensitivity. Not the flickering flames in the sudden cool breeze, or the creaking floorboards on the stairs could make his heart race dramatically. He just simply didn’t believe. The house was old, floorboards were unstable and wood contracted in the coolness of night, there was always a scientific explanation.

The murder had been real though. The young woman’s remains had been found in the house and the murderer never caught. He felt sorry for her, could imagine the fear of facing your last moments so brutally. He wondered who had been so evil to end the life of an innocent woman so casually and why. Calvin yawned, moving his laptop to one side, it was time for bed. Maybe inspiration would strike in the morning. Taking one candle up the old staircase and refusing to turn on the lights, he bent his head to avoid the low beams and walked into the largest room at the tops of the stairs. At least the owner had taken the time to make the bed fairly comfortable for him; he was so tired that he couldn’t wait for sleep to overtake him. Leaving his clothes in a discarded heap on the floor, Calvin collapsed on the bed, his eyes shutting instantly and consciousness slipped away.

His dreams were torrid. He watched as the young woman was held down and gagged, he felt each and every blow as she gradually regained consciousness and was beaten again and again. He felt his limbs being pulled apart, the searing pain as a heavy bladed saw cut through skin, and felt the jagged edge as the saw connected with the hardness of bone; he sat upright in bed screaming, clutching his arm.

It took Calvin a while to realize he had just been dreaming. His skin was drenched with sweat and he checked his body relieved to see that he was intact, the vividness of the dream refusing to ebb away.. without a doubt sleep had deserted him and he clambered out of bed to put on the light. Relief flooded through him as the shadows disappeared and he saw he was unscathed and still alone.
He didn’t remember the last time he had experienced a nightmare of those proportions but this had been truly terrifying.

With lights blazing, he made his way downstairs to his laptop, thinking that a practical approach to his article writing might clear his head of cobwebs. He felt drugged, head foggy and he still ached. Surely a nightmare couldn’t actually inflict physical pain. As he leaned over his laptop, clicking to his article page, he stepped back in sudden horror….the name ‘Marianne’ was typed all over the page. Mouth dry, skin pricking, Calvin shivered, how the hell had this happened? Who could have done this?

Common sense reasserted. It had to have been his friends, after all, weren’t they the ones who had suggested this house to him?  It was likely that they were just trying to scare him, prove that he wasn’t as tough as he seemed. Taking a deep breath, he checked the front and back door. They were securely bolted. Doubts filled him mind again, Marianne, who was she? The girl who was murdered? Damn it, he didn’t believe in ghosts. The locket glinted in the electric light compelling him to pick it up, and as before, the gold burned into his skin and the room started spinning. He knew without a doubt that the locket had belonged to her and held on to the desk until the dizziness passed. Just what had happened here all those years ago? Was it the trauma of her violent death keeping her bound to this house?

He remembered the swing moving in the garden, hadn’t it looked as if someone was sat on it, moving it gently? Was that Marianne? Or had other things occurred here? Calvin suddenly felt an overpowering urge to know, his fear ebbed and his determination rose. Was it too late to uncover the truth and put Marianne’s spirit to rest? Suddenly Calvin knew that he had a mission, it would be the investigative journalism assignment of the year, hell no, of the century and he had the opportunity to do something worthwhile and of course, complete his ghost watching series with relative ease.

As he dressed, Calvin made his plans. Go and see the owner, extend the rental period to a few weeks at least and then start his research in earnest. He just needed to pick up a few more things from his apartment if he was going to stay longer. As Calvin walked down the path, he welcomed the new day as a hazy sun emerged and began its trail through the sky. Calvin stopped at the gate and looked back towards the house, and breathed in sharply, it might have been a trick of the light but he could have sworn the shape of a woman was standing in the doorway watching him leave.

‘Don’t worry’, he whispered, ‘I’m coming back and I will find out what happened to you Marianne’.

When he blinked, the figure had gone and he wondered if tiredness was affecting his judgment, but as he turned towards the wrought iron gate, it swung open in front of him, guided by an unseen hand and as he walked through slowly and with shock, it closed gently behind him clicking back into place. A shiver went through him but also, a sense of anticipation for the tasks ahead.

He smiled at thin air, wondering if she knew he was trying to help her and then made his way back to the car, it was six am and he had a lot to do if he was going to unravel a mystery that had laid dormant for almost a hundred years and finally reveal the truth about the house of Marianne

Memory Loss Fiction Competition Winner

 

1st Prize:  £150.00 Eve Green

 2nd Prize: £ 100.00 S. Denby

3rd Prize:  £   75.00 Chris Foster

The Ravages of Time

 

“Are you the Doctor? “ The voice was wobbly and laden with confusion.

I handed her the cup of tea, carefully making sure that her trembling fingers had gripped the cup firmly. “No, are you expecting one?”

She shook her head as confusion swept over her, “I don’t think I’m ill”

“I don’t either,” I agreed “You look in good health to me”

She leaned forward in a clandestine manner, “It’s just my flamin’ memory dear. So annoying, for example, I can’t find my glasses today and I need them if I’m going to do my knitting.”

“They are on your head, here….” I took them from her silken grey curls and handed them to her and she whooped in delight.

“Well now, fancy that, I looked everywhere…or, at least I think I did”

“What are you knitting?” I asked looking at the beautiful green wool in the basket by her wrinkled stocking legs.

“It’s a surprise, a jumper for my daughter”

I glanced at the cover of the pattern and saw the image of a young girl “How old is your daughter?”

She hesitated for a moment, brow furrowed as she dug deep for the answer, “I am terrible, I can’t remember exactly….I think she is ten or twelve. My dear, time does pass so quickly and children are never children for long. Do you have any?”

I shook my head, with a recent divorce and approaching my fortieth birthday, the likelihood for the patter of tiny feet weren’t good. I had never worried about it before but now, the years, empty and alone stretched ahead of me. I swallowed as a wave of emotion rose from the depths of my belly. “No children” I whispered.

We sat in comfortable silence for a bit and I watched the buzz of activities around the room. Nurses busied themselves pouring out drinks, administering drugs and getting their patients to stand for a few moments so as to keep the blood circulating to prevent sore areas developing and I admired their care and consideration. As a solicitor, our jobs could not have been further apart and yet for all of my lack of care, I was paid so much more. It didn’t seem fair.

 As I broke off my reverie, I noticed how peaceful she looked now that she was asleep. Her glasses were at an angle across her nose and her chest rose and fell with shallow breaths. She looked so tiny that it broke my heart.

Today wasn’t a good day for her. The Alzheimer’s had claimed a little more of her and there was no point staying, plus I had an overwhelming urge to escape and feel the fresh air on my skin. I don’t know if it was hot in the room or just that emotion was ripping me apart but I needed to get out of the care home. I stood up quietly, trying not to wake her up and walked away.

“There you are dear, hope you weren’t sneaking off? I was only having a little nap”

I turned to look at her quizzically.

She yawned as she struggled to sit up straight and straightened her glasses“Well come and give  your mother a kiss for goodness sake, I’ve been waiting ages, although a very nice lady kept me company for a while…or did I dream that?”

She held out her arms and I bent down and hugged her, struggling to hold back the tears. She was back, who knew for how long, but time was precious with her and I was only too glad to have my mum back with me because I missed her. I really missed her.

First Line Competition Winner

 

1st Prize: £100  Kelly Spreadbury

2nd Prize: £50 Peter Hudson

3rd Prize: £25 Olivia Hunter

 

Alone

By Kelly Spreadbury

The mist was rolling down the hills around her and soon she was enveloped in an eerie, unfamiliar cloak ….the shroud seemed to muffle her calls, stifle the fear in her throat until she felt hoarse with trying to make herself heard. Where was she? How could a three year old move so fast? It was dangerous out here on the moors, the mist was thick and it disorientated even the most competent of locals. It was also cold and she shivered.

Two minutes that’s all she had left Jessica for, two stupid minutes. What would Frank think when he got back home? His only daughter missing out on the moors, lost, lonely, hungry and frightened. Hannah looked around in desperation, she was losing her own bearings, which way was the house now? The mist was becoming denser by the second and she tried to think how far she had come from the safety of the garden. One wrong step and she could easily take a tumble. Hannah felt tears prick at her eyes and she struggled to blink them back. Cry baby she thought. First sign of trouble and you put on the waterworks. Hadn’t her mother consistently chided her for that when she was young? She almost smiled but then with a cold jolt, remembered Jessica, all blonde curls and big blue eyes, out here alone. Oh god. What if she died out here? She would never forgive herself ever and neither would Frank. The thought chilled her and spurred her to search further. Swallowing hard, she carefully pushed forward out in the direction of the open moors, one steady step at a time.

“Jessica” she bellowed, straining her ears to listen for signs of crying, but only a cold silence greeted her. At first there was nothing but then, a faint sound, a cry from out of the mist. “Jessica,” Hannah breathed a sigh of relief. She was out there and alive and now she just had to follow the sounds.

“I’m coming pet, don’t you worry. Stay where you are!” Jessica’s faint sobs could still be heard through the gloom, Hannah hoped she sounded calm and had managed to quell the desperation from ringing out in her voice. She had to stay calm. The ground felt slippery underfoot and her tension rose yet further. She still sounded so far away. The ground was uneven and dipped ahead, where was she?  She felt the ground give way in front of her and jolted her back as she lurched forward stumbling a little. She didn’t have time to stop and feel sorry for herself, the muscles in her lower back were starting to throb but Hannah knew she didn’t dare give up. Jessica’s cries were getting fainter but the mist had wrapped its icy fingers around her and she was starting to feel paralysed with fear. Was she near the old mine? Had she walked so far? Sure enough the slope was heading down before her and it felt steep in places and uneven, but if so, Jessica had fallen into the disused mine shaft. Oh god, please don’t let that have happened she prayed desperately.

“Jessica pet, can you hear me?” A slight sound, stifled in the mist and Hannah eased forward, her heart lodged in her rib cage, stress levels escalating as she strained to identify the direction. Hannah felt disorientated, the mist seemed to be affecting her hearing too and suppressing her instinct. Worse, fear threatened to rip through her as she agonised over the prospect that Hannah could be seriously injured. Guilt weighed heavily and she realized that she had been keeping her feelings for Jessica in check, holding back, feeling resentful that Frank had loved Jessica’s mother and fear had led to her stifling her emotions, unwilling to bond with his beautiful daughter. Fear, jealousy, guilt, powerful negative emotions that had led them to this moment and her having been distracted enough to have let Jessica wander off alone. She had to save her, had to.

From out of the depths, Frank’s voice sounded, desperately calling her name, she could hear the fear in his voice, he was home and he had realised that Jessica was missing. An overwhelming urgency to find Jessica swept through her so that she could reunite them all and she stepped forward, a loose boulder sliding underfoot and she fell awkwardly, her head hitting the ground and the hazy mist suddenly went dark.

She was cocooned in strong arms and it felt good. Masculine scent evaded her nostrils and she turned instinctively towards the source, head nestling into the warmth.

“Hannah, are you ok? Can you hear me?”

Frank, the realization swept through her like a wave of pleasure, diminishing in a second as she remembered Jessica and her plight. “Jessica..is she?” Her lips felt swollen and the words too big for her mouth but she needed to warn Frank, tell him how careless she had been.

“Sssh,” he said, “she is fine, absolutely fine, I was worried about you, you took a nasty fall”

Hannah struggled to sit up, waiting for the room to stop spinning before attempting to open her eyes again. “The mine? Did I fall down the mine?”

Frank threw his head back and laughed “No, pet, you slipped on a lump of coal in the back yard and fell down into the bunker.

 “No, that can’t be right, I walked miles”.

“You must have walked around in a big circle” he laughed, relief warming the sound “the mist does that here, it’s so thick, it’s disorientating. I was so worried about you especially when I found Jessica alone in the house”

“In the house?” Hannah shook her head, “I was searching for her, she had disappeared, I’m so sorry Frank, I only turned my back for a moment. I heard her outside calling for help.”

“No, you didn’t, the mist disorientates everything including noises, Jessica was hiding from you, but in the house, she never left, it was a lovely game of hide and seek until she got bored of waiting to be found”

Hannah nestled into Frank’s arms, all was safe, and suddenly life had changed for her. In those desperate moments that she thought Jessica was missing, she had realised just how much her new family meant to her and an overwhelming feeling of relief swept over her. It was time to shrug off her past relationship fears and embrace the new life that was hers for the taking and she had the unforgiving mist to thank for bringing her finally to her senses.

Writing Competitions – Behind the Scenes

If you enter any of our writing competitions, I can appreciate the anticipation, nerves and frustration as you wait anxiously for news of how your submission has done. After all, you have poured heart and soul(hopefully) into your entry, edited profusely and finally, sent your ‘baby’ in for assessment but lots happen behind the scenes once you have sent us your work and I thought I would share this with you all, so that you understand the process.

Firstly, the process is not a quick one and some of you may know that already. Unfortunately it can take some weeks, even months for us to be able to complete the process and make careful and considered decisions about the winners. We pride ourselves on choosing the best entry for that particular competition and to do that we have to read each and every entry, carefully. There are no shortcuts when judging writing competitions, each have to be scrutinised carefully and often read and re-read several times.

So what do we look for when judging writing competitions? Well, that’s fairly easy.

A well –written submission in the first instance will earn an additional review but what we are looking for ideally, is a strong storyline (fiction) and one that holds our attention. A unique interpretation of the theme if provided, will also enable us to give more consideration to the submission. Even those that are well-written however will not probably have much chance of going further if we receive pretty much the same storylines throughout, check out our competition writing experiment on how to avoid this. If a theme is provided, the chances are that some submissions will be similar but for you to do well to do well when entering writing competitions, it’s important to make your idea unique.

We also are unlikely to shortlist those submissions that have not been spell-checked and contain a mass of grammatical errors as it is a distracting read and why should someone win with a poorly prepared entry in comparison to someone who has taken time and care with their work? This doesn’t mean of course that the odd spelling mistake will make us discard the entry, but sometimes the amount of errors are unbelievable. We want submissions that grab our attention, and seek out highly original submissions either as an idea or in its interpretation. We want submissions that stick to the word count, are believable and compelling. Once we have found those submissions, they go into the short listed pile and then they are reviewed again, usually after a period of time, where we can consider them with fresh eyes.

The short listed pile may be quite substantial so we eliminate more following sometimes intense discussions and then systematically (again over a designated time frame) will keep reducing the numbers. As you can imagine, this process is timely but it is fair and gives every writer, previously published or not, a fair chance at winning one of the prizes. Sometimes we dispute between ourselves which writer should win the top prize and again, the selection process can be delayed in those circumstances until we manage to come up with the winner unanimously.

Some competitions receive hundreds of submissions, but many submissions are disqualified immediately due to arriving after the closing date (yes really) or not having paid the entry fee (yep, we get those too) or by sending us a submission that is way over the designated word count! We also receive those that have nothing to do with the given theme or who have sent a covering letter to say that although their entry doesn’t stick to the rules, they just had to send it.

We love our role in being able to tell a writer that their submission has won them a prize, it’s a great feeling but sometimes judging is difficult, and by the very nature of our website, with at least two competitions a month, we have set ourselves quite a task and a continuous process which takes time to follow through and as a small team, well, we can only take our time and try to get it right.

Writing competitions offer writers a fantastic opportunity to earn some extra cash and some writing kudos, it looks great on a writers C.V. for example and shows- imagination, ability, creativity, focus and an ability to follow the rules. But spare a thought for the poor judges who desperately try to award the best entry against hundreds of others in any of one of our writing competitions.

How to Win Creative Writing Competitions

Even the most accomplished writer is unable to win every competition they enter but a little forward planning and inspired creativity can boost the chances of winning creative writing competitions more regularly. I became addicted to writing competitions many years ago and had a few modest successes in the early days and then through increased focus and commitment, started winning more. Am I a better writer than everyone else? No, but I am very determined to succeed and writing is my life so I also put 100% into every creative project. If you want to win  creative writing competitions, then don’t play at it half-heartedly, as the editor of the Creative Competitor I see thousands of submissions each year and whilst sometimes the standard is excellent, other submissions can be unappealing and even badly written.

Self motivation and commitment are key factors for every successful writer, there is no doubt in my mind that you can learn the relevant techniques and skill-set to become successful. What you lack for in qualifications, you can more than make up for with imagination and determination through trial and error. You also need to utilise every ounce of imagination at your disposal and this can mean growing that creative muscle until it expands and works at will. Once you get into the habit of entering writing competitions regularly, your imagination will kick-start quickly. I would always suggest sourcing your own list of writing competitions and checking out the rules carefully before entering. You also need to think your idea through thoroughly before submitting to  make sure your idea is powerful and that it will stand out from other entries.

Its hard trying to acquire the mindset of a competition judge but to a certain degree, you do need to be fairly analytical as regards your submission.

I have put together the following tips to help you increase your chances of winning the creative writing competitions of your choice:

  1. Have you checked all of the rules including word count and closing date?
  2. Does the competition theme inspire you?
  3. Have you planned your story sufficiently before writing?
  4. Is your idea fresh and most of all, compelling?
  5. Are your characters(if any) larger than life?
  6. Are you sure that your storyline hasn’t meandered unnecessarily?
  7. Does the storyline flow?
  8. Will the reader be able to relate to the storyline? (Depending on competition theme)
  9. Have you checked out previous competition winners to get a feel for why they may have won?
  10. Have you spell-checked?

There is always a certain amount of luck involved with winning creative writing competitions but if you put your heart and soul into your entry, then you increase your chances of securing a fantastic prize and obtaining publication.

Free To Enter Writing Competitions

I’m often asked why I don’t publish free to enter writing competitions, when in actual fact I do.  There may not be as many but the reality is that writing competitions have to be funded in one way or another and it’s not reasonable to expect this to come out of the Creative Competitor coffers continuously.

On a personal level, I would love to be able to fund more free to enter writing competitions but in a business sense, it’s just not viable.  The entry fees are there to cover the competition prizes and so are essential. When planning a free competition, I often try to provide prizes that I can willingly give away and where my own time is impacted more than digging into the bank account. A free coaching session or writing course is a nice prize to be awarded and it also helps to increase future publishing potential as these prizes are geared towards the individual. Of course there are sometimes the opportunities to source sponsorship and this can provide some interesting prizes as a result.

The Premier1 members do receive cash prizes and they also have designated monthly free to enter writing competitions in their Write to be Published magazine, this is just our way of saying thank you for being loyal subscribers.  In the main, I try to provide writing competitions with generous cash prizes and often minimal entry fees, it may be surprising but my goal with the Creative Competitor is about helping writers to achieve their potential and giving them a creative boost. Whilst free to enter writing competitions offer that same benefit to those who participate, the Creative Competitor wouldn’t be around long if business sense went out of the window.