Sunday, 29 May 2016

Five reasons to enter the Bridport

The deadline is looming  for the Bridport Prize. So stop whatever you are doing right now, find a short story, polish it up and enter it.  Because you might win if you enter, and definitely won't win if you don't.

Of course it's true that any competition is a lottery to some degree. And how can you judge one story against another when each one is unique? But this can work both for you and against you. Two of my frankly not-all-that short stories were shortlisted for major prizes early in my writing career (for the Ian St James and the Cosmopolitan prizes) and frankly far better ones have done nothing since. The boost - both emotional and professional - when you win or are placed in a major competition far outweighs the mild disappointment of being overlooked.

Photo by Photo by rahego, via Flickr Creative Commons /

Here are five reasons for entering:

1. If you don't enter you won't win. (Recycling the content from above for reasons of emphasis and thrift.)

2. Even getting shortlisted for a big prize can get you noticed. I got my first agent from being short-listed for the Cosmo prize - although the actual story never got published.

3. It's a deadline. Writers need deadlines, otherwise we sink into the Slough of Despond wearing faded pyjamas.

4. Entering competitions forces you to think about the current market for short fiction - at least, it should do. (Or current context, if you think the word 'market' is a little harsh and vulgar and you are producing Art.)

5. Professional writers are Submitting Machines. Everything that you have written that is halfway decent should be submitted somewhere. If it gets turned down for one outlet or competition, enter another, submit again. Don't be emotional about it, don't feel let down if nothing happens - submit, submit and submit again.

So get those words sorted now. And if you want more information about other competitions, here is Paul McVeigh's excellent blog which lists upcoming opportunities.

And here is another useful list from Christopher Fielden.