Posts Tagged ‘contest’

What are you Writing for?

July 21, 2014

Let me introduce you to Gaia. Gaia is a human clone or more aptly, a human garden. She is a twisted, mutilated version of woman with little conventional beauty to behold. Yet there’s a sense of strength in her structure and: the beat of her HEART, the bright BLOOD pumping through her veins and the light yellow aura that floats above her- are riveting. Gaia struggles, as so many main characters do, to find her place in the world.


She is also the main character of my sci-fi script, GAIA, which took first place in The Indie Gathering’s sci-fi feature script contest, one of a couple dozen contests I entered over the past two months or so. The win is my first and a welcomed reprieve from the repeated thrashes of rejection from others.

Admittedly, the validity and usefulness of screenplay contests continues to be debated, especially for any contests other than the “Top 5.” Indeed, as I searched for contests, and weighed the benefits and costs of each, I struggled not to let the naysayers drag me down.

Site after site, person after person, nay after nay; these sounded much like this:

“contests that charge over $25 aren’t worth it”

“any other than the top 5 are a waste of time”

“contests are a waste of time… they won’t help you sell your screenplay”

“contests are good for the ego, but that’s all.”

Of course, some of these comments were by people who had not yet placed in any contest, but not all of them and some were directly from people working within the film industry. Regardless, the impact varied little.

With each nay, my enthusiasm waned, even after my win. That is, until I realized something so profound that when I told Confucius he said, “Do what?” Not really, actually he rolled his eyes and said, “Uh.. duh.” So what is this not-so profound realization?

In the screenwriting world (and in fact, most any artistic industries), a reverberating factor of success seems to be the ability to find like-minded people.

A win may or may not mean you write well, but it means that someone or several “someones” appreciated your writing. It doesn’t matter if they appreciated it because it was “good” writing, or because it was a “good” story or for some other reason. All that matters is that you made that connection. For that win, you “won” someone over, and each contest you enter increases your chance to connect.

Think of these contests as fishing. They take time, money and can be tiring. Sometimes you’ll get a nibble, sometimes a bite, but you won’t get anything if the fish in the lake don’t like your bait. Even the biggest worm won’t hook a fish if the fish in the lake prefer crickets. Thus, for me, these contests are my pole.

I use them to gauge the interest in my bait. What other route offers you so much direct access to such a large, diverse range of people. Whether the judges are members of the Hollywood elite or not, they are people you can connect with.

There are many reasons why cult followings are popular and movies that have them are ultimately successful. Not every success is based on the size of the catch. Sometimes it’s taste that counts.

And as I consider the value of screenwriting contests, I remind myself also that Indie films and the whole site of Kickstarter are all about funding based upon a connection. Not a network of who you know, but a connection of a shared vision and goal. And isn’t that why we write anyway; to connect with others?

Autumn pic

Autumn Whiltshire earned her Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She writes poetry, short stories and screenplays. Her thesis script, Gaia won first place in The Indie Gathering’s 2014 Sci-Fi Feature category.  You can follow Autumn at:

The 2013 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest

February 13, 2013


The 2013 Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest

Submissions Accepted From February 1st-28th!

The contest is open to all writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Submissions must be 1200 words or fewer. There is no entry fee.

The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short story in the Winter 2014 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2013 Writers Workshop, June 15th-22nd, in Gambier, Ohio. Additional info on the Writers Workshop is available here.

Katharine Weber, critically-acclaimed author of five novels, including Triangle and True Confections, will be the final judge.

Click here for the submission guidelines.

2012 Emerging Writers Getaway Contest

May 9, 2012


The Whidbey Writers MFA Alumni Association presents
Pulitzer Prize winning author William Dietrich

as final judge of their 2012 Emerging Writers Getaway Contest!

Click HERE to submit and for more details.

Contest Category

 2012:   Fiction – Novel Length


Open for submissions: Feb. 15, 2012
Closed for submissions: May 15, 2012
Finalists Notified: June 26, 2012
Finalists’ Provide Full Manuscript: June 29, 2012
Winners Announced: August 5, 2012

Awards and Benefits

Ten finalists’ entries will be read and judged by Pulitzer Prize winner William Dietrich.

Additionally, Andrea Hurst Literary Management is offering the winning entry a full read/critique (as well as possible representation or referral).  The second and third place winners will also receive agent responses (from Andrea Hurst Literary Management) to their synopses, complete with critique/suggestions.

The names and novel titles to the top ten finalists will be posted on the Whidbey Writers MFA Alumni Association website on June 23, 2012.

The top ten entries will receive two critiques of their entry by members of the Whidbey Writers MFA Alumni Association.

Awards will be given as follows:

First Place

Second Place

Third Place


Entries must be RECEIVED BY MAY 15, 2012.

Read all the details and guidelines at

Omnidawn’s Chapbook Poetry Contest

February 29, 2012

It appears the Contest Deadline for Omnidawn’s Chapbook Poetry Prize has been extended!

Open to all writers: no limitations on the amount of poetry a writer has published.  

Omnidawn’s CHAPBOOK Poetry Contest  

Winner receives $1,000, publication, and 100 copies.    

Entry fee: $15.00    

Accepting electronic & postal submissions 

January 1 – February 29, 2012  March 15, 2012.   

Joseph Lease will judge. 

All entrants with a U.S. mailing address who pay an extra $2 to cover shipping costs will be mailed a copy of any Omnidawn chapbook of their choice, or a copy of the winning chapbook when it is published. A complete list of all current Omnidawn chapbook titles is available at      

For full details about all three of Omnidawn’s Poetry Contests (current & future) visit

The Hudson Prize – Early Bird Special

February 22, 2012

Now is a great time to enter your manuscript in The Hudson Prize! Now through the end of the month, save $10 off your submishmash submission (full rate $25, early bird rate $15).

THE GIVING OF PEARS by Abayomi Animashaun, 2008 Hudson Prize Winner

Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an unpublished collection of poems or short stories.

The winner of this contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes awarded on publication. Past winners include Jo Neace Krause, (fiction) Daniel Chacón, (fiction) Abayomi Animashaun, (poetry), Patrick Michael Finn (fiction), Sarah Suzor (poetry), and B. C. Edwards (fiction). 

Entry Period:

February 1 – March 31 

Submission Fee:

Early bird rate $15; Full submission rate $25 

How to Enter:

Visit for contest details and submission instructions.

call for subs: Missouri Review Audio Competition

February 15, 2012
The Missouri Review invites you to submit to our 2012 Audio Competition for a chance to win $1,000 and to have your entry published on The Missouri Review’s website. Send us your recordings of original poetry or prose or your audio documentaries on any subject. All you need is a computer, microphone, software such as GarageBand or Audacity, and a great script.

This year, in an effort to expand the contest, we have opened submissions (previously $20) to a pay-by-donation entry fee. Your contribution of any amount includes a one-year, digital subscription to The Missouri Review, and all of your donation goes to support the production of The Missouri Review and its related programs.

Winners and select runners up will have their work featured on The Missouri Review’s website and as part of our iTunes podcast series. Entries will be judged by TMR’s editors in collaboration with guest judge Julie Shapiro of the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Deadline: March 15th, 2012

Entries and payments are accepted by mail or online. For details, or to submit, please visit our website:

call for subs: Kenyon Review Short Fiction

February 8, 2012

Here’s another great opportunity for students and grads…

The Kenyon Review is now accepting submissions for the fifth annual Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest through February 29, 2012. The contest is open to all writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. Submissions must be 1,200 words or less to qualify for the contest. Nancy Zafris, former KR Fiction Editor and currently editor of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction book series, will be the final judge.

Find the full contest guidelines and read the previous winners’ pieces here.