5 Strategies You Need to Win Any Writing Contest

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Welcome back, my inklings.  I hope you’re all doing well.  It’s Good Friday already and the contest deadlines we discussed last week are fast approaching.  There’s quite a lot of strategies you can employ to get a better chance of winning a writing contest, many of which are only applicable to certain types of competitions.

I was considering this while I narrowed down for you the five best strategies that have helped me win in the past.  I wanted to provide you with tips that should work for absolutely any writing competition you come across, strategies that without which you’re almost guaranteed to lose.  I can’t promise you victory, but I can certainly put you on the path that leads to it. Continue reading

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Fighting with a Project? Don’t Give Up!

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I’ll be absolutely honest.  I’ve been having a difficult time with my time travel piece.  It’s in part because I haven’t made the time to sit down with it, and also because the rest of my life has been running me down like I’m a tunnel digging prison escapee.

At the moment I’m hiding in a metaphorical ditch while life shines its spotlights across the marsh from only a few feet away.  The slightest breath and I might have to go be an adult and do life things.  So let’s make the most of this time together before life finds me and throws me back in the clink.
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Why I Avoid Time Travel Stories and Why We Should All Try Writing One

When I told my wife I was going to do a writing prompt for the blog about time travel her response was less than enthusiastic.  She’s not a fan of time travel stories, and neither am I and for a lot of the same reasons.  She explained to me that she didn’t think she could be much help in reviewing whatever story I came up with from the prompt because of her feelings about time travel stories in general.  The word hate came up.  Several times. Continue reading

The Octopus Garden: Your Creative Zone

Good Friday to you, my Inklings, thank you for stopping by.  Now, you may have guessed from the tentacles on my banner and the fact that I call myself “The Octopus” that I take a great deal of inspiration from nature.  In particular, I view the octopus as a marvelous mascot for wordsmiths everywhere and not just because they can squirt ink (but that’s totally part of it).

Octopuses (that’s right, the preferred plural is octopuses!  Not octopi, octopodes, or even octopeople) like to collect things.  They’ve been seen piling stones into protective fences before they go to sleep and amassing all sorts of crustacean shells and coral bits and anything they find interesting or useful.  Some researchers have called this collecting and arranging behavior “fortress building”.  Others, due to the eclectic nature of the collections, call these mysterious museums “octopus gardens”.

Now, as writers, we really shouldn’t surround our workspace with the discarded remnants of our food (white cheddar cheetos bags go in the trash!) so a literal application of this habit may be less than helpful.  However, I have noticed that I have more than a few near-requirements and writing rituals that serve as my own octopus’ garden.  Continue reading

8 Ways of Grabbing Your Reader from the First Sentence, Pt. 3 of 3

In which the Octopus provides tips 6 through 8 and a concluding statement.

Our final installment will feature the last three ways of grabbing your reader from the first sentence.  Of course there are probably many more in the world worth using but I sincerely hope that these articles have given you some new tools to try when starting a new project.  Without further ado, my inklings, I give you the last of our list.
6.  Blunt Force Introduction:

“The Landon sisters looked as stately as ever in their matching coffins.”

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8 Ways of Grabbing Your Reader from the First Sentence, Pt. 2 of 3

In which the Octopus offers Tips 3 through 5

Welcome back, my inklings.  On March 26th, we started a discussion about how to grab your reader from the first sentence of your story.  Today we’ll continue with a few more methods designed to intrigue and excite your reader.

Note: If not otherwise attributed, any example “first sentence” is my own creation provided only to prove concept.  I may eventually revisit these sample first sentences and turn them into full stories.

3. The Contradiction:

“It was only after my grandfather died that he really began to talk to me.”

Often a contradictory statement, the reader is propositioned with an intriguing juxtaposition of concepts that they can only make sense of if they keep reading.  Continue reading

8 Ways of Grabbing Your Reader from the First Sentence, Pt. 1 of 3

In which the Octopus provides an Introduction and Tips 1 and 2

The mythical first sentence; for your book, it is the phrase that launches one hundred thousand words.  For your reader, it’s almost like your book’s pick up line.  You’re trying to inspire the reader into getting into a serious relationship with your story.  This is about more than just making a good first impression.

The first sentence is sometimes your only chance to snatch up a potential reader’s interest and propel them headlong into your story.  Write a great one and your reader will dive in and not look back.  Write a bad one and, well…take a look at this: Continue reading