Is A Writing Contest A Competition Or Just A Chance To Criticize?

I get lots of notices about all things writing. Just the other day a contest was announced, which is really an opportunity for a writing site to gain more prospects. No problem there as that’s just some good marketing.

As my curious nature usually leads me to investigate, I perused the contest rules, especially as it pertained to the stated benefit that all entrants would get published, “if they want.” If they want! That had an odd sound to it in my head. What writer doesn’t want to get published? So I read some more.

The long and short of it has to do with having one’s work of 1000 words or less reviewed, to see if it measures up to someone’s idea of what readers want to read. If not then there will be adequate critique to let you know that someone supposedly more capable than you will fill you in on why you are lacking in writing skills.

I say that in 3rd person simply because I am way past caring what some editor thinks of my “skill.” It really seems like the same old thing we say about someone trying to justify their existence in a particular category. In today’s vernacular…whatever!

It was said by one more famous than I, “What? Me worry!”

Prize money is offered along with the carrot of getting published and reviewed by some magazine I’ve never heard of or read. The thought comes to mind that I’m as likely to get read right here in my blog as in that magazine. Those odds are more to my liking.

Getting paid to write is absolutely not what motivates me. The opportunity to have someone tell me why they don’t think my writing is up to par doesn’t excite me in a positive way at all. In fact it would take a great deal to remember what they think is none of my business.

There were some writing prompts related to this contest, and not one of them was in the non-fiction category. That struck me as interesting, and will likely become a “writing prompt” for me at some future date.

As I read some of the “tips” for writing that 1000 words or less story, creating the plot, character, the evil or problem and painful situation, the hero, I thought to myself what’s wrong with the real stuff? There are enough everyday stories that lack none of those things and don’t have to be fiction.

Supposedly real drama must seem tame compared to the fertile imagination of a writer who creates the bigger than life story. When I consider the real experiences compared to the impossible challenges the hero of the story overcomes, impossible physical feats, human endurance that goes beyond reality, well it just can’t compare to the real thing.

On top of all that are those who feel justified to critique someone else’s imagination. Does that even sound right? Stories are just that, and most writers have a “voice” which is not likely to be that of the one doing the critiquing. So the phrases, verbs and adverbs chosen by the original writer expressing their way of communicating, are now challenged. Been there, had that, that’s why I write free of the rules!

So writing contests are just opportunities for writers to go through the anguish of hearing that their efforts don’t measure up to some standard another has determined. Somehow those so called “experts” are not consulting the readers they pretend to represent. Slowly but surely the readers are speaking back. Are you one of them? Here’s your chance to sound of, in the comments section below!

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Alan Written by:

Alan is retired and resides in Quito, Ecuador. Writing is a passion which has resulted in two eBooks thus far, with more in the works. Married 47 years with four sons and 13 grandchildren, provides potential grist for the mill! Alan is a charter "Boomer", a Viet Nam veteran, committed to roasting his own coffee and writes about whatever pops into his mind. He loves to build and ride recumbent bikes, play racquetball, writes almost daily, travels Ecuador, and talks to anything that does not move fast enough! The twinkle in his eye is a combination of the sun, and an active sense of humor. His desire to encourage others to write is being answered through his articles on the Internet.