How Not to Enter a Writing Contest

Ranting and Raving about Writing

This week, in between work and other obligations, I’ve been judging entries in a writing contest. This is sometimes challenging since it can demand a great deal of tact, not something I possess in great quantity.

The experience inspired me to write a sample of how not to enter a writing contest. In doing so, I’m not implying in any way that my writing is so fabulous it’s beyond criticism. Instead, I’m just poking fun at some common mistakes that most of us have made at one point or another. You know, kind of like that Catherine Aird quote about if you can’t be a good example, you have to serve as a horrible warning? Well, I’ve decided to set aside all personal pride and be that horrible warning.

Purple Prince Crabapple, Malus 'Purple Prince,...

Purple Prince Crabapple, Malus 'Purple Prince, Morton Arboretum acc. 49-93*1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, if your writing sounds even vaguely like that which I’ve written below, and you’re considering entering a contest, don’t do it — at least not until you do some serious polishing.

Alternatively, if you’re thinking of volunteering as a judge, feel free to use the sample to hone your diplomatic skills. Pretend this is an actual entry and figure out how you would tell me, the author, that my writing skills — to put it kindly — need some work.

Sure, scanning and posting my first contest entry and score sheets would have achieved the same result, but that’s a little more humiliation than I’m prepared to share with others.

Ready? (Really? Are you sure?) Ladies and gentleman, I give you the first five (also last five and only) paragraphs of Staci’s Dilemma.

Staci yawned shoiwing even white teeth and opened her azure eyes. She slid her long tan legs from beneath the downy, soft fuschia duvette on her bed and walked to the window. 

“Gosh,” she said. “I hope this rain stops before Great Aunt Matilda’s birthday party this afternoon. The wet weather would ruin the party and make her fine blond curls frizz too.

“I know,” she surmised, “I’ll go downstairs and ask Nate. He’s the weatherman on channel 7. He’ll be able to tell me if the rain is going to continue.” 

She smiled to herself as she picked out her cutest pair of capris and a short top that bared her flat stomach, and then slipped her feet into a pair of Jimmy Choos. She wanted to look her best if she was going to see Nate.

Nate had moved in a few weeks ago and ever since they had been flirting. He was a real stud-muffin with emerald green eyes, a ripped body and a smile that made Staci’s heart beat faster. She had been in his apartment downstairs only once when he first moved in and she took him some of her specially baked brownies. He wasn’t anything like her ex-boyfriend Jason who had broken Staci’s heart. She had been brokenhearted for at least a month after that. Then there had been Jim. He had been nice but just not cute enough for Staci. She knew that when a girl as pretty as she was went out with a guy who was merely sort of cute the girl lost some of her cuteness by osmosis. Staci had decided she just couldn’t continue to take that chance. So in the end Jim had to go. But Greg was nearly as cute as Staci and now she had an excuse to visit. 

Go on. You try it now. Leave a comment with the worst paragraph (or even sentence) that you can write. It’s actually kind of fun.

Oh, and you’re probably wondering what’s up with the picture of the crabapple tree. I included it because we planted one this weekend. Someday I hope it will look as beautiful as the one in the photo.

About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
This entry was posted in Rant, Rave, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to How Not to Enter a Writing Contest

  1. Oh my! That’s awful! How about…

    “John Henson did not like to read book because the sound hurt his feet.”


  2. kymlucas says:

    1 Story A Week — That’s pretty bad too!


  3. Mary Jane Esber says:

    Thanks for making my day, Kym! That is hilarious. (But often not far from the truth sometimes…)


    • kymlucas says:

      The sad part is, every error is one I’ve seen while judging. Of course, what’s sadder is I’ve probably madeall the mistakes too. lol “There’s no problem a library card can’t solve.” — Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown Check out my blog at



  4. Kim Also says:

    That’s good. Allow me to share a first sentence from a writing contest I recently chaired:
    “My vibrator has a death rattle.”
    Is that good or bad? I think a writer gets points for writing something memorable, and I don’t expect to forget that one.


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