Entering competitions takes time and energy, not least the mental energy to focus on the entry T&Cs which will be very nearly the same as the last comp you entered …. but NOT THE SAME. NOT THE SAME AT ALL.
Some comps want three chapters. Some want 10k words. NOT THE SAME. And you MUST include your details on each page… unless they want everything anonymised. Formatting generally must be standard: 12pt Times New Roman for prose, Courier for Screenplay. You knew that right, loser? But don’t assume they have the same policy on paragraph indents. Oh no. And you might have to zhush up a PDF while you’re at it. Or Word might be OK.
Then there’s the SYNOPSIS! You know that massive thing you wrote? Maybe it’s 100,000 carefully crafted words over 200 pages. Well can you just… y’know give us the gist? In 100 words. No. 300 words. Make it 1000 words. Actually make it a one page synopsis. Actually you’ve probably got those summaries already. Um… can we have, um, a poem that summarises your main theme. A poem in 200 words. You’ve already got that on file? Damn. 200 CHARACTERS we meant. Heh heh heh…
The more well-respected the prize, the less cuddly the conditions. They’ll have words like VITAL, NO EXCEPTIONS and tight-lipped pleadings to remember that they get around seven billion entries so, you know, as Ru Paul would say Don’t F*ck It UP. And don’t click on that link unless you want to hear swearing. (That’s a suggestion from me, not a competition condition. Obviously).
I appreciate clear direction, really I do but it does leave you in no doubt as to your chances, their importance and your own insignificance in an infinite cold cold universe.
And the virtually inevitable losses ARE heartbreaking…
But I still think it is worth it. Just. Your work won’t win you anything sitting idle on your hard drive will it? If the work is done, and you’re proud of your stories, then you’re no worse off whatever happens*.
*Unless there’s an entry fee. Please refer to the Terms & Conditions.