For authors, entering a writing contest is a way to test and flex their mental acuity. The Writers Weekly competition is especially exciting because you don’t know what you’ll have to work with…and you’ve only got a limited amount of time to produce a finished piece. It felt like a version of Chopped for writers.
As with the TV show, Chopped, judge commentary educates the audience about the strange basket ingredients and how to best to prepare them. Meanwhile, the competing chefs are thinking and working as fast as possible to come up with something prize-worthy.
Having recently been a participant in the WritersWeekly.com Fall, 2015 24-Hour Short Story Contest, it was interesting to learn about the overall writing trends that emerged as the judges read through the 500 entries. I asked Angela Hoy of WritersWeekly.com if I could repost excerpts from her article about the contest’s common themes.
WritersWeekly.com – is a free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
After registering for the contest, entrants are given the date and time that topic will be posted. The required word count is also given at that time. From that point forward, entrants have 24 hours to craft the story that they will submit.
THE FALL, 2015 TOPIC
The barren, tan corn stalks behind her snapped in the cold evening breeze, the only sound louder than the dry, fiery red leaves swirling around her tiny, shivering bare feet. She’d lost her bearings again and she hoped the dinner bell would ring soon. A gray tree with endless arms and fingers, devoid of any remaining foliage, loomed before her. She gazed at the odd markings on the trunk, which appeared to outline a hand-cut door of sorts. And, as she stared, it opened…
(Stories only needed to touch on that topic in some way to qualify.)
Before you continue reading, take a moment to consider where you would take that story…
The top three winners of this contest are posted HERE.
COMMON THEMES SUBMITTED
Here are our notes about common themes that emerged with this topic:
Many of the stories were dreams and visions of the characters.
There were lots of faeries!
Several stories featured children playing games in the corn fields.
There were numerous stories featuring elderly and other people who are delusional.
Several stories ended with the main character being a dog or other animal.
And, surprisingly, four stories featured the tree being a hiding place for the Underground Railroad!
As with all contests, some common themes come back again and again, no matter what the topic is.
The story is about a writer and/or it’s a writer participating in a writing contest (groan).
Vampires, aliens and other scary creatures. We always see LOTS of those.
We find out at the end that the entire story was just a movie/TV scene/play or we find out the first scene of the story (usually the topic itself) is from a movie or TV show/play or even a book or article one of the characters is reading.
The reader finds out at the very end that the main character is actually dead (is a ghost or spirit of some sort), or that the main character has dementia. We always get several retirement home or other senior citizen stories.
The main character dies at the end, and is met by a loved one or an angel of some sort. We also see lots of dead friends/relatives trying to convince the characters it’s their time to die, too, helping them to cross over, etc.
The story is dramatic but you find out at the end the characters are really children playing make-believe or that the main characters are actually animals, not people.
The main character of the story is a writer or someone in the story (usually the main character) is named Angela (the publisher of WritersWeekly).
A common fairy tale is the basis of the story.
Links to the winning stories of the current contest appear HERE.
PRIZES: 1st prize: $300 2nd prize: $250 3rd prize: $200 20+ honorable mentions + 62 door prizes!
The WINTER CONTEST IS COMING SOON!
Sign up today right HERE: http://24hourshortstorycontest.com