This month I am entering a contest for short stories. In reality, short stories are not really my thing. I tend to be verbose and detail oriented, and am a better world builder then I am a crafter of plots. Which means that in general, I need lots of words to tell the story I want to tell *just right*.
Which, quite naturally, makes writing short stories an entirely beneficial exercise for my writing muscles. It forces me to leave out most info-dumps, because there is no space. I have to craft a clear, compact plot-line, and leave out the details I tend to get boggled down by. I forces me to work on increasing the speed of my story, which I value greatly.
But the fact that doing it in itself is an educational experience is not entirely why compete in these contests. That’s more of a pleasant side-effect. I compete, because the contests I enter into tend to give you feedback. Feedback written by people that genuinely want you to improve and who get nothing out of it except the honor of saying they judged the contest. People that tend to know their craft, so the feedback they give tends to be very useful.
After I finish the story for this contest, I will work on the next one, although that contest is not one you can ‘win’ in the traditional sense. Also not a contest that provides the marvelous gift of feedback. It’s not even for short stories. I am entering NaNoWriMo. And the contest is writing a lot of words. The reward is having written a lot of words. I hope I’ll manage, and I am greatly looking forward to it.
If you enter contests, what do you get out of it?