When it comes to entering writing competitions, word count is all important and yet, it is something that seems to be overlooked often. As a writing competition judge, I have to check the word count on each submission before it goes into the file ready for judging. This, as you can imagine, is really time-consuming when you are dealing with many submissions. I’d like nothing more than to have people adhere to the rules so I can work on trust but sadly, people blatantly disregard word count rules, perhaps not with real intent, but through not reading the rules and following them.
It was so bad at one point that I even contemplated creating additional competitions without any word restrictions but, why do this when the whole point of entering a writing competition is to follow the rules, and for the writer to pit their wits against other creative individuals. Rules create a level playing field on which to write and enter. It means you have as good a chance as any other writer when it comes to winning prizes.
Most people struggle with word count because they fail to start their story in the right place. I discussed this yesterday, so click here if you would like to read this post.
When there is a substantial word count, many writers feel that they have plenty of time to build a story. They may not work out a plan prior to writing, instead, letting creativity guide them and so, the result may be that they have a few hundred words on top of the designated word count. You may be surprised at how many submissions are sent without these extra words being eliminated during the editing stage.
If you enjoy writing competitions, don’t resent a limited word count, consider it a challenge. They are designed to test your creativity and to fuel the creative process. Set your mind so that you provide a tightly-written story within these boundaries and this increases your potential to win. If you are not mindful of the set word count, your submission will be deleted from the competition. Harsh perhaps, but fair.
The last thing we want to do is reject submissions. We want to encourage writers and to help them succeed, giving them a platform for success. So, re-read the rules before submitting and make sure your submission is judged on its own merits.