A Writer’s Guide on Successfully Applying for Legit Writing Contests (Tips + Tricks + More)
5 mins read

A Writer’s Guide on Successfully Applying for Legit Writing Contests (Tips + Tricks + More)

Applying for writing contests or competitions is a great way to put yourself and your literary work on the map.

Writing contests offers a space for you to showcase your works, as well as explore your strengths and weaknesses. It is also an opportunity for you as a writer to be recognized in the literary world.


How to win a writing competition

However, writing competitions involve more than just sending in your writing and waiting for an approval. There are procedures and precautions that you must take to ensure you’ve done the right things that can guarantee a possible success. This article guides you through that process.


Look for Writing Competitions

There is no preparation without a writing contest. The first thing you should do is position yourself to have access to a range of writing competitions. There are several websites – which you can subscribe to in order to get information on writing competitions. These include: creative writing news, Brittle paper, Inkitt, Reedsy and More!

Carefully go through each writing contests’ requirement

Each writing competition has unique requirements according to their vision, mission and core values. As such it is important for you as an entrant to read these requirements before you apply. Read through the eligibility, know if you are eligible by age, location, nationality, also, know whether or not entry is free or paid.


Carry out research on the Judges of the Writing Competition

Writing perception is unique to people, therefore it is advisable to be familiar with the judges of the contest – visit their workshops if they have any, just to understand what makes them experienced enough to judge and see if you can learn a thing or two from them, so as to help you write a contest worthy story for submission.

Brainstorm and Have a Deep Understanding of the Theme

Before diving into writing for the competition, you should think carefully about the ideas , themes, and concepts for your story of entry. Outline what you want to write, know if it aligns with the theme of the competition and if it expresses it well enough.

If the theme of a contest is Freedom, do this

  • You question what freedom means
  • Know how the organizers of the contest want you to translate freedom
  • How you want to translate freedom
  • What does the story you want to write mean? Consider these before you dive into writing.

Write Exceedingly Well

Writing Contests

The opening of your entry is a window to the rest of your work. Create a compelling hook, whether it’s a strange question, an intriguing statement, an action scene or a vivid description that draws readers in from the beginning. Hook readers at first read.

Develop Strong Characters and Plot

If your competition piece is a narrative, focus on creating well-rounded characters and a great plot to support characterization. Engage your readers with relatable characters and a storyline that keeps them invested from beginning to end.

Stay True to Your Voice

While it is essential to adapt to the competition’s requirements, do not lose your unique voice and style. Your voice can announce you. It can even set you apart from other entrants. So write that story your heart yearns for.


Edit and Revise

Never submit a first draft. Learn how to do a self-edit for writing competitions , or give it out to beta readers to help you. This can help you check for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. More so, ensure your writing is clear and understandable. Do not be ambiguous. Make sure to do this before sending it in.


After editing, proofread. Even the smallest typos can affect the quality of your work and can make it one less problem from a bunch of other entries. Proofread your work multiple times to remove errors, or, use editing applications to make sure you are in the clear.

Take Note of Word Limits

Most writing competitions have word limits. Some require just 2,500 words and nothing more, while some require nothing less than 1000 words.

Adhere to this rule while writing, make sure your work does not exceed the required word count because this can lead to your work being disqualified! Do not gamble your chances.

Meet Up with the given Deadline of the Writing Contest

If the deadline says 1st of May, make sure you submit BEFORE then. It is the safest way to keep your chances. Submissions after deadline are often rejected or the portals might have been shut down.


I hope these tips can help you successfully apply for a writing competition and write for one. Following this guide does not guarantee your position in the contest, but it gives you an edge. So cease the day, go ahead and apply for that writing contest. Do it for you!

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