Coming up next: Contest, “Best Excerpt, All Genres”

With frigid winds blowing the snow around outside, it’s time to revive SoWrite’s writing contests.

Pick your best three!We saw an exciting mix of great entries and enthusiastic reader interaction in 2013’s final competition. That contest called for a complete story told, start to finish, in just 3 sentences. That was a tough order, but our writers rose to the challenge in rare form.

We had so much fun, and saw such strong writing, that I’ve decided to continue SoWrite’s contest format in the “3 Sentences” tradition. This will give us all a measure of predictability and consistency for 2014’s upcoming author competitions.

You may ask, what value is there in pitting excerpts of just three sentences against each other?

I propose that this competition holds enormous value for our writers. How many sentences do you read on a book cover’s blurb before you make your purchase decision? If you open a novel, how far do you have to read before you “know” this is a book you’ll buy?

Three sentences can carry great power in their presentation.

In non-fiction, the power of three sentences is legion. Many persuasive NF books include two or three sentences as an appended part of the title itself.

Great blog posts rely on the draw of those first three sentences to convince readers to keep reading. And in a sales letter, long form or short, if the first three sentences suck then little else matters; the letter will fail to deliver.

As we saw in that earlier contest, good writers can convey an entire story arc in just three sentences — and they don’t have to be long ones. Remember, “I came. I saw. I conquered.”? Heavy stuff, huh?

I believe that capable writers like you will enjoy the challenge of choosing exactly the right three sentences to enter into the ring. You’ll need to bring your best shots in that crucial opening salvo. (Sorry about the mixed metaphor there.)

We’ll include a couple of critical tweaks in both the method of entry and the final judging. I want to include our contestants in the process, specifically in helping to choose our finalists. And no, this still won’t be some sort of popularity contest — those have never made sense to me.

There will be no entry fees.

I may ask you to do something, probably some simple social sharing, in exchange for your chance to compete. I will likely ask that anyone who wants to play sign onto SoWrite’s email list, so that I know who you are and have a way to contact you. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

In the absence of entry fees and with no on-site products for sale, the cash value of each contest will be lower than it was in some of our past rounds. I want to see the “social proof” value of winning these contests increase. The top three entries will earn medals that their authors can display on their websites or book covers, as desired.

I did some research among self-published authors, and learned something interesting. Turns out, adding the phrase “award-winning” to your book or author bio influences sales. How much? “At least 20%” was the typical response. I believe that you can do even better than that, if you actually have some talent. (Well, it helps, right?)

What else? The fact is, this should be just plain fun.

Every month there are dozens of great contests that writers can enter. You pick your best piece, fill out the entry form, pay your entry fee, and then … you wait. Maybe you win $1,000. Or maybe you never hear a thing. This isn’t that. (Sorry about the $1,000. Not happening, at least not yet.)

I’ll post our first contest of 2014 very soon — by the coming weekend, at the latest.

What should you do in the meantime? Pick your best three sentences, of course! Our first round will be open to all genres, so almost anything will fly. Future rounds will narrow the field, but I thought it would be fun to start with a wide field right out of the gate.

…Are you still here? What are you waiting for? Go find your best three sentences, and stay tuned!

This contest is now in progress:

questionDo you think this is a terrible idea? Hey, maybe I’m crazy and delusional. If you have any helpful feedback, let’s talk about it in Comments, just below.


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  1. Excellent idea for a competition, Jim! “:)

  2. Love this! It’s like my mind automatically got into gear with, “What shall I write?”

  3. Is the link at the bottom of the article, here, broken? Or is it just me? Thanks!

  4. Cherry Kelly says

    ENTRY >>
    I met a man named Goose,/ Who was heavy and wore a burnoose.
    He went on a diet / Which was quite a riot
    And now his burnoose is too loose.


  1. […] Coming up next: Contest, “Best Excerpt, All Genres” January 26, 2014 […]

  2. […] weekend, I promised you a new contest. Here’s your chance to show off your best writing. To enter, all you need is three dynamite […]

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