September Writing Competition

 In Tips for Writers, Writing Competitions, Writing Exercises

Image courtesy tantek

Imagine you are in your twilight years and you want to tell a grandchild a story to inspire them to overcome some difficulty they are dealing with. Don’t allow your narrator to launch into a lecture; it should be a story.

Remember to have a beginning, middle and end. And remember suspense. Remember to set things up properly in order to pay them off satisfactorily.

If you don’t set up your story properly, your climax won’t yield the emotional pay off you desire. For example, give us reason to love or admire your hero if you want us to care about her ultimate achievement. Allow us to see how badly she wants to achieve what she does, what the stakes and obstacles are, so that we don’t simply think “So what?” Set up our expectations by not telling us everything at once, if you want to pack an emotional punch.

Write no more that 250 words. Paste your entry into the body of an email and send it to by midnight 30 September.

The stories are judged blind and the shortlisted and winning entries will be posted on The winner will receive a R300 voucher for the independent book shop of their choice.

And finally, to help you with your entry, here are five writing tips to writing a strong story:

  1. Begin with a dramatic or a suspenseful introduction, not explanation about your character.
  1. Build your story arounda problem and your character’s attempts to find its solution.
  1. Createinteresting characters. Know them as well as you know yourself and allow them to have flaws and complexities.
  1. Let your characters struggle withemotional challenges. This will make your readers identify with them and engage with the story.
  1. Make sure the outcome of your story is not obvious or predictable. Readers like to be surprised.


Click here to read the winning entries for the August writing challenge.

2016 Course Dates

Cape Town Creative Saturday – 1 October, 3 December
Creative Writing Course in Johannesburg and Online – 10 October
McGregor Short Story Weekend – 18 to 20 November
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