I took a bit of suggestion and decided to join my brother in a writing contest group. I wanted to share the beginnings of my experience as well as give the basic rules for anyone wishing to start an easy and friendly contest of their own.
The rules are simple. It is a contest among a group of friends or even extended friends if you want a more diverse group of individuals. The first writing prompt is selected by compiling ideas from each participant and choosing one at random. The rules for each prompt are decided by the person whose prompt idea was chosen. Prompt rules include freedoms and constraints to deadline, setting, time period, point of view- first, second and third- as well as maximum/minimum word or page length. Other possible limitations to enhance creativity for writing topics could include the following:
- A list of vocabulary that must be used
- Use of only words that begin with certain letters of the alphabet (I.E. Write this prompt only using words that begin with letters C-S of the alphabet)
- Story must contain the phrase… “<insert phrase of choice here>”
After a prompt is selected at random, each participant writes according to prompt rules and submits their story before the given deadline. Our contests begin at midnight, the night of the topic selection, and generally lasts one week. All submissions are emailed to my brother- the host of our writing contest- where each story is compiled into one email and sent back to each contestant for review. In the review process, every individual grades each submission based on five categories.
- Entertainment value
- Writing Quality
- Appeal to prompt
On a scale of 1-10, how was the piece as far as entertainment goes?
On a scale of 1-10, was the piece original?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the writing quality?
On a scale of 1-10, did the story appeal to the prompt?
On a scale of 1-10, how plausible is the piece?
After each category is scored on a scale of 1-10, they are added together. If done correctly, each submission will have a grade anywhere from 5-50. When you have reviewed and graded all submissions, they are sent to the host address to be added with the rest of the groups scores. The highest score is declared the winner of that prompt. If you cannot afford prizes and just enjoy the friendly competition and writing aspects, you will probably enjoy the novelty reward of bragging rights and future prompt selection. However, if your group wants to offer real prizes for the winning contestant and can afford to, that would be a great incentive to keep participants interested in giving it their best. In our group, all future prompts and rules are selected by the winner of the previous contest.
In a group of strangers some of these guidelines might prove problematic, so instead of having a host to collect and deliver submissions and also record scores, you could also send your submissions and scores via forum or any program that will allow all contestants to view each submission as well as tally scores in a table or counter.
After my writing contest group has gone through a handful or more prompts I will share some of the ideas we came up with as a new prompt suggestion post.