Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Step by Step Guide for Submitting to a Writing Contest

I'm privileged to have Renee Cheung on my blog today to give us pointers on submitting to a writing contest. As one of the authors whose story was chosen to be included in the Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology, Hero Lost, I suspect she might just know a thing or two about the subject.

Take it away, Renee!


A Step by Step Guide for Submitting to a Writing Contest
by Renee Cheung

(Also known as dealing with demons and whispers.)

Today I’d like to share with you all my personal process that I went through to submit to the IWSG writing contest that resulted in the Lost Hero Anthology. It may not be your shtick but maybe you’ll find a helpful tip or two here. That or I will be coming off as certifiable insane. Well, at least you don’t know exactly where I live.

(1)  Think of a story
Without this first step, there wouldn’t be much to submit right? So without further ado, let's begin. Start by letting the theme of the contest expand in your mind. Look at your surroundings, look inwards, look outwards. Think about it while you are chewing. Think about it while you are sitting on the can (or in my case, while showering). But whatever you do, don’t let it stop percolating in your mind. If you ignore the whispers, they will go away eventually and as an author, you don’t really want that, right? (Unless you’re truly insane, in which case, carry on.)

(2)  Let worry convince you it’s not good enough then do it anyways
Ah, the demons of doubt. The insidious, bad kinds of whispers that always beats down the story before it even has a chance to form. Sometimes there’s just no helping the nagging that goes on and on. So what to do but accept that the story is not good enough but stick with it anyways. Just to spite those demons. Because it’s fun to be spiteful.

(3)  Write like all of hell is on your heels
Whoever said revenge is best served cold obviously knows nothing about the pleasures of instant gratification. So in the spirit of being spiteful, write, write and write. Race headlong and let the words pour out, no matter how nonsensical. Afterall, if you are hearing whispers, you’re crazy anyways so you are just living true to your nature. Also if you are too busy listening to the whispers, you are too busy to give the demons much attention. See, another way to be spiteful!

(4)  Rip it apart
Okay, so you’re done and inevitably those demons have caught up to you. This is the hard part but maybe also the most fun. Listen to those demons, let them rip your writing apart. But then what do you do? You fix your story bit by bit. It’s kind of like pottery. In the previous step, you have shaped the blob of clay into some semblance of a thing and now it is time to actually give it definition and details, so let those demons, unwitting as they are, help. Actually it’s a lot of like that creepy stalker pottery scene from Ghost.

(5)  Don’t expect much (but let your loved ones and friends convince you that you are awesome)
Your expectation is probably the an all-time low at this point so good job, you’ve completed the first half of this step with no effort! As for part 2, you’re planning to share the story anyways so you might as well share early and get a cheerleading squad behind you. At least your loved ones have to have some compliment for your story, even if it is a critique sandwich.  This way, you can try and gather some shred of your confidence back from the brutal time you had in the last stel. Also wine and ice cream. Sometimes ice cream in the wine.

(6)  Send it to your writing buddies and brace for the worst
Okay, so now is the time for real feedback. Your demons have gorged themselves so hardcore on your doubts that they are pretty useless to you at this point. Time to turn to better help and brace for impact. All good things that are good for you hurt or taste bad in some way, like cough medicine, right? But hey, there are bound to be more critique sandwiches. Mmmm... sandwiches.

(7)  Close your eyes and hit the send button
Okay, so you have revised and revised and at some point you are going to have to stop. The demons are cackling by now because they think you have given in and are stuck in revision land. So what better way to go “BAM! IN YOUR FACE!” then hitting the send button? I know it has been a few steps but we are trying to go for spiteful here, remember? In the words of the great Nike advertising campaign slogan: Just Do It.

(8)  Move on (or try at least)
That’s it! The demons are probably on the defense now, telling you that you will never win but hey, that’s just them trying unsuccessfully to be spiteful. Afterall, it's done and out of your hands. Go have some pie, or some wine, or more ice cream, or all the above! You have appeased the whispers of inspiration so go celebrate. Also stop dwelling. Yes I am talking to you. Oh you will dwell but that’s why you go back to step 1. Now go, feed the inner crazy.

And that’s how Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight became what it is. As authors I think we are all a little neurotic at times with our craft. What are your quirks in your writing process? 

Renee uses her years of experience as a developer to write about the what-ifs of magic and technology. When she is not suspiciously peering at her computer in between her writing, she can be found roaming the streets with her family or gaming (whether it’s video games, board games or table-top RPGs) with her similar-minded friends. 



Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight

Long ago, before the Unseen migrated into servers and networks, a hedge-knight sought to save a village from a dragon. But being a hero always has its price.



Hero Lost
Mysteries of Death and Life
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Can a lost hero find redemption?

What if Death himself wanted to die? Can deliverance be found on a bloody battlefield? Could the gift of silvering become a prison for those who possessed it? Will an ancient warrior be forever the caretaker of a house of mystery?

Delving into the depths of the tortured hero, twelve authors explore the realms of fantasy in this enthralling and thought-provoking collection. Featuring the talents of Jen Chandler, L. Nahay, Renee Cheung, Roland Yeomans, Elizabeth Seckman, Olga Godim, Yvonne Ventresca, Ellen Jacobson, Sean McLachlan, Erika Beebe, Tyrean Martinson, and Sarah Foster.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these twelve tales will take you into the heart of heroes who have fallen from grace. Join the journey and discover a hero’s redemption!


24 comments:

  1. I'm glad my writing demons aren't quite that bad or I really would be nuts at this point. Glad you fought yours off and hit send, Renee.

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  2. LOL! No wonder we are all bonkers. What sane person would go through all of that?

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  3. Thanks Alex and Diane. I wrote this in half jest but yeah, the inner crazies are strong. It's a miracle we can function in normal society as is! :P

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  4. This sounds exactly like how I write most of my fiction - except I don't always get enough feedback and I have a super-editor in my household (there is nothing like a teen who doesn't want her mom to embarass her with bad writing to edit the heck out of any draft - however, she always nails it and she catches 90% of my problems and gives me small compliments afterwards - whew). Love this post, Renee!

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    1. Thanks Tyrea! Lucky you have an in-house editor! Hahaha maybe I can train my son up the same way though I have a few more years to go for that!

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  5. Write like all of hell is on your heels!! LOL
    This wild and feverish writing mode sounds like one I'd like to engage in...sometime...

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    1. I only half jest! Sometimes words just kind of tumble out like a stream of consciousness. Not that I am saying they necessarily compose into good writing, not without a lot of wrangling afterwards. It can be a lot of fun though!

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  6. LOL! I think the whispers just come with the territory for writers.

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    1. So true! I once read that musicians hears music in the background and that they just have to pay attention to draw a tune out. I feel like writers are the same way.

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  7. Loved this article! I know those demons. Sometimes I snuggle with them.

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    1. Thanks and what a great idea! I should give that a try lol

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  8. I think you just described my process too! :) Great guide.

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    1. Lol I figuredaby authors take similar steps.

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  9. I'm really good at Steps 5 and 8. I'll have to work on the rest.

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    1. Cheering you on! Some steps are definitely harder than others.

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  10. I love the line, "go feed the inner crazy," because it's so true!

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  11. Great advice. The only thing I'd add to it is to make sure you follow the guidelines. You'd be amazed at how many people make their own guidelines and thinks that's ok. lol.

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    1. Oh very good point! Thanks for the addition!

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  12. Excellent tips. I adored Renee's story.

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  13. great advice! my biggest problem is forcing a story to meet the theme. i have a stock pile of stories started, looking for the right contest =)

    and heroes lost looks awesome!

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    1. Thanks! In the case of this story, I wrote specifically with the theme in mind.

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  14. Thanks again for stopping by, Renee. The readers obviously liked your post. Good luck with your story.

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  15. This gave me a laugh. Love the language used.

    I really should submit to writing contests. I never do. :/

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