Spare a thought for the dutiful team at Online Writing Tips who’ve been bingeing coffee in a bid to meet their midnight deadline to publish this year’s longlist. With more than 600 entries to debate, selecting our favourite 10% has been fraught and exhausting. But we’ve made it, just.
We’ve picked a longlist of 70, which is actually more like 11%. We could have picked any of several hundred high-quality stories, so commiserations to those who didn’t make the cut this time. These decisions are subjective, and luck plays a big part too; it always seems to me that if the previous story made the list then the next story up for consideration is at a disadvantage. You need a lot of skill to be placed in a writing comp, but you need a bit of luck too. In that way, I guess writing comps are more like poker than chess.
Anyway, congratulations to the following authors, listed in alphabetical order by surname. Next up, we’ll be narrowing this esteemed field down to a shortlist of 12, which we’ll publish on Monday 9th July.
We hope you’ve all had a happy new year and that 2018 is treating you well. 2018 could be a prosperous year, for you have the chance to win the richest literary prize currently offered anywhere on this website.
Yes, the Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize is back for 2018, and the deadline has just been announced as midnight on May 31st (GMT). It’s free to enter and international entrants are welcome. There’s no theme, but to get an idea of what we’re looking for, check out the winning story from 2016 and the winning story from 2017. In 2018, first prize will again be a sumptuous £100, with £50 for second place, and £25 for third. All the submission information is available here – good luck!
We hope you’ve all had a great summer and are ready to do some serious writing. After an unprecedentedly profitable first two quarters of 2016, the OWT team were able to spend our vacation touring Greek islands on the Online Writing Tips yacht. The good news is that you too can live like this, by winning the richest literary prize currently offered anywhere on this website.
Yes, the Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Prize is back for 2017, and the deadline has just been announced as midnight on March 15th (GMT). It’s free to enter and international entrants are welcome. There’s no theme, but to get an idea of what we’re looking for, check out the runner up and winning story from 2016. In 2017, first prize will be a sumptuous £100, with £50 for second place, and £25 for third. All the submission information is available here – good luck!
This week’s featured market is an amazing opportunity all the way from Berlin. Don’t worry – you needn’t write in German. This is strictly for English-language stories of 1500-3500 words. The theme is “A Summer Night” and you have until midnight (CET) on May 31st. Best of all, it’s completely free to enter and there are some amazing prizes: first place wins publication in the summer print edition of EXBERLINER, €100, and a goodie bag. Two runners up will each receive publication on the EXBERLINER website, €50, and a goodie bag. And ten finalists will have their stories featured on The Reader Berlin showcase, and have the opportunity to perform their work live at a Reader Sunday Salon event in autumn. Please see here for full rules and submission details. Good luck!
When we launched the Online Writing Tips Short Fiction Competition, we didn’t think much about how we would judge the entries. We didn’t decide in advance on any particular process, and we didn’t discuss the values that would inform our judgements. We wrote in the submissions guidelines that we wanted the stories that would move us – stories that would make us laugh or cry or both. That seemed to pretty much cover it. Had someone pushed us for a further explanation we would probably have mumbled about fairness and objectivity, without realising how problematic – even impossible – those concepts are.
So we’ve made the process up as we’ve gone along, and we’re still unsure about the values that inform it. We’ve moved to a multi-judge system, employing four judges, two of whom read the stories ‘blind’, without access to the authors’ names or cover letters. The stories should stand on their own merit, right? Reputation and previous success – or, in the case of two of the longlisted authors, knowing the competition organisers – shouldn’t make any difference. And we’ve started using a points system: the judges rank the stories in order of preference, and then we add up the scores and put forward the stories with the lowest totals (no, we won’t reveal the scores). Such a quantitative process gives an impression of objectivity, and it stops me and Phil arguing indefinitely, but what if it’s a process that favours safe and competent stories over high-risk works of art? What if a story wins because everyone thought it was pretty good, while the pieces that most thrilled and excited each judge alienated the others? More…